The brilliance behind Alcatraz

Indian Country Today

Professor Robert Warrior is on today's show to discuss the planning of the Alcatraz and the parallels with the attempted coup in Washington D.C. Plus journalist Meghan Sullivan is talking more about a video game that worked with an entire Alaskan Native community to get things right.

The 19th month long protest and occupation of Alcatraz started in 1969 when 89 American Indians and their supporters occupied Alcatraz Island. many familiar with the history know that the group lived on the Island together until it was forcibly ended by the US government. The planning of the recent capital insurrection is said to have taken many months, but what of the pre-planning that went into Alcatraz? Today Osage citizen and professor Robert Warrior joins us to discuss the details behind this pivotal moment In American history. Professor Warrior is a scholar and Hall distinguished professor of American literature and culture at the university of Kansas. He is the coauthor of the book, Like a Hurricane, the Indian Movement from Alcatraz to Wounded Knee.

Meghan Sullivan is a freelance journalist and she recently wrote a story for Indian Country Today titled 'Tlingit artist designs video game artwork'. Meghan joins the newscast to tell us more about how the game came to be and how hard the game developers worked to make sure contemporary Tlingit culture was represented in a respectful way.

News from around Indian Country

We'll tell you which Indigenous Senators did not vote to impeach president Donald Trump and which ones did. And more on why the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma is demanding a refund for it’s donation to the Republican Attorneys General Association. Also the director of the National Museum of the American Indian is making his way to a new position. Plus interest in traditional Indigenous art is making waves on social media. We sit down with one of the 4 Indigenous directors with films showing this year at Sundance. And, correspondent Carina Dominguez has a story on one Indigenous Australian designer whose clothes will soon be seen during Milan's fashion week. You'll find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from todays show

Robert Warrior:

"They're really different events. Although I think that they do have some similarities in terms of spontaneity and the sense you can get of things happening in a really fast timeframe where it's really difficult to, to keep track of everything. Another part of what I would see as a similarity is the sense that anybody could have seen this coming, but they just weren't really choosing to notice." 

"And certainly with Alcatraz, I think that the Bay area was someplace that people knew, but people in the Native world knew but didn't really think of it as being on the beaten track. And so when Alcatraz happened, I think a lot of people were surprised. It was something that seemed that should be happening in Denver or in Minneapolis."

"But the Bay area seemed like a different sort of place a little bit further away from the main action in the late sixties. But for people who knew that area, it was who knew what was going on in urban communities. It was a real center because of Relocation because of there being three communities, Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco that there was a lot going on. And there were a lot of dynamics and there are lots of different groups." 

Meghan Sullivan:

"So this video game is set in a fictional Southeast Alaska town, loosely based on the real life Alaska Native village Hoonah. And it follows a set of twins who were raised in this town as they returned to their home and kind of investigate these events from their past that are still shrouded in mystery. Yeah. So even though the main character twins aren't Tlingit, a lot of the other characters within the video game are Tlingit. So Tlingit culture is actually kind of a huge aspect of this game. 

(Read more: Tlingit artist designs video game artwork)

"So one big feature of it that they really focus on is Tlingit art, Tlingit customs. And even some words Tlingit words as well. I think people really like the game. The locals were really happy with the outcome. They thought that it reflected their culture accurately. The DONTNOD team, which is the game developers who helped Xbox make this game."

"They are actually based in Paris and they traveled all the way to Southeast Alaska in order to get a better sense of the culture and to kind of reflect the culture accurately in the final product. And so they worked with Tlingit artists. They worked with people who were in charge of the heritage center there. And it was really kind of a team effort to make sure that Tlingit culture was accurately represented. And I think in that regard, the game has been a success just from the people I've talked to in the area who thought that they did a good job."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Meghan Fate Sullivan, Koyukon Athabascan, is a former Stanford Rebele Fellow for Indian Country Today. She grew up in Alaska, and is currently reporting on her home state from our Anchorage Bureau.

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