'Life was tough on that island'
Adam Fortunate Eagle Nordwall, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, reflects on the first day of the takeover of Alcatraz Island that started on November 9, 1969, and his experiences with the historic fight for Native American rights.
Besides writing the five-point proposal that eventually turned into a proclamation of Native people using the land, the activist was "on the mainland acting as a quartermaster, raising money to buy food and other supplies for the Island and dealing with the media."
He didn't live on Alcatraz but organized much of the daily routine that made it possible for others to live on the island for 19 months.
Fifty years later, the 90-year-old artist resides on his family compound located on the Paiute Shoshone Indian Reservation, minutes from of Fallon, Nevada.
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Photographs and artwork line the walls of his family home that sits next to a workshop, art gallery and roundhouse made entirely of recycled tires.
His two-room workshop houses a wall of priceless artifacts, including boxes from his time on Alcatraz. He wouldn't let me take a peek but said mail clippings, photos and more filled the boxes labeled "Alcatraz."
Jarrette Werk, A’aniiih and Nakoda, is junior at the University of Nevada Las Vegas studying multimedia journalism. Werk has been a fellow of the Native American Journalists Association since 2017.