Saturday, December 10, 2011

Who's Island? OUR ISLAND!

Today,the I-YEL team paid a visit to one of our nation's most recognized landmarks, Alcatraz Island. We had the privilege of experiencing the park through a personalized tour by Ranger Benny Batom. A few of the I-YEL interns have never been on the island, so for some of us it was an introduction to a piece of San Francisco's history. Throughout the tour we gained knowledge about the layers of history that have made Alcatraz such an iconic landmark. One of the first things we noticed when the got off the ferry was a sign that read, "Indians Welcome"; Ranger Benny told us the story of the Indian Occupation that started in the late 60's on the island. Part of the purpose of our Alcatraz visit was to learn how Park Rangers interpret stories to be relevant to visitors. The story of the Indian occupation movement spoke to me as a young leader and activist because it reminded me of the Occupy movement that is happening today. I see that type of activism as a tool used by marginalized people to bring mainstream awareness to justice issues. The events on Alcatraz reminded me of the Occupy Wall Street movement because of the similarities in their purposes. I learned that the Indians that protested on Alcatraz wanted to send a message about the poor living conditions on reservations; just like modern Occupiers are trying to bring awareness to the inequities between Americans today.

Parks are important because they hold the nation's history. Just like Alcatraz holds different layers of history, so do places like Crissy Field. The preservation of these areas helps us understand where we came from, and where we're going.

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