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Nov. 15: History Department to Present “Alcatraz is not an Island”

Oct 01, 2017


Alcatraz is not an IslandTo commemorate Native American Heritage Month, the Randolph-Macon College Department of History will present the film "Alcatraz is not an Island" on November 15, 2017 at 7 p.m. in SunTrust Theater, Brock Commons (304 Henry St.). The film portrays the dramatic 1969-71 protest that forever changed the face of Indian activism in America. This event is free and open to the public. Map and Directions

Holding Native American Heritage Month during November is significant for several reasons, says History Professor Michael Fischbach.

"First, the Alcatraz occupation began in November 1969. Second, November is also when Thanksgiving occurs, a holiday stemming from the story of the Pilgrims and the beginning of the European colonial presence in New England. For many native peoples in North America, the beginning of the white colonial presence in their lands marks the onset of centuries of dispossession and destruction, hardly something they wish to celebrate. For them, November is a month to mourn and protest. Indians accordingly have gathered on Alcatraz on Thanksgiving every year since 1975 to commemorate the 1969-71 occupation and mark what they call 'Unthanksgiving Day,' just as Indians in New England have commemorated a 'National Day of Mourning' on Thanksgiving since 1970."

Fischbach says that in marking Native American Heritage Month, the Department of History seeks both to educate the R-MC community about the experience of Indians in America and honor the native peoples who lived, hunted, and fished in this part of Hanover County, notably the Pamunkey and Chickahominy tribes of the Powhatan Confederacy.

Fischbach also notes that Professor Mathias Bergmann, chair of the History Department, offers courses on Native American history, and Religious Studies Professor Timothy Brown teaches about Native American religious practices.