News Press

Santa Barbara, California

Sunday February 12, 1978

Cross Country

[AP Laserphoto, not shown here, captioned:]

Indian Leaders, from left, Max Bear of South Dakota, Chief Eagle Feather of Rosebud, S.D., and Dennis Banks discuss anti-Indian legislation before the ceremonial peace pipe on Alcatraz Island.

[photo description: Banks is pointing off into the distance standing on grassy knoll, with the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge in background, in front of banner showing image of the sacred pipe overlaid on North and South American continents with words American Indian Coalition being held up by a couple of folks in shade]

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Indians begin protest march

San Francisco (UPI) -- The first day of a six-month American Indian Movement protest march to Washington started yesterday with a peace pipe ceremony on Alcatraz -- the former prison island held by Indian demonstrators for two and a half years.

Under crystal clear skies, 341 Indians, some in tribal dress, most in blue jeans, kicked off their protest of congressional legislation that they contend is anti-Indian.

A peace pipe was passed, a medicine man spoke and drums were beat on the island that a band of Indians occupied from November 1968 until June 1971, when they were evicted by federal marshals.

The former top security prison, abandoned by the federal government in 1963, is now a top tourist attraction.

The actual walk started in Sacramento, following a rally near the state capitol, where Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally and activist Tom Hayden, among others, appeared.

Twenty-four Indians plan to make the 3,000-mile trip from Sacramento to Washington, but they will be joined by supporters along the way.

Fugitive American Indian movement leader Dennis Banks said he can go only as far as the California-Nevada border in the trek dubbed "the longest walk."

Banks is wanted in South Dakota for sentencing on his conviction for assault with a deadly weapon during the 1973 Custer County courthouse riot.

Gov. Brown so far has refused to honor South Dakota's request for Bank's extradition and the case is currently before the Supreme Court.

The Indians' march is designed to draw attention to legislation in Congress they contend will hurt their cause. One of the bills, termed the "Native American Equal Opportunity Act," is authored by Rep. Jack Cunningham, R-Wash.