Indigenous People's Sunrise Ceremony
Location: Alcatraz Island San Francisco
Hours: Every year on "Thanksgiving" morning
I can't even explain all the magic that took place on Alcatraz Island the morning of "Thankstaking" (as my daughter calls it) this year. It was something so beautiful to witness and really only could be felt by being there but I will try to describe it...
This year me and my oldest daughter had the pleasure of joining the Indigenous People's Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz Island. Every year this ceremony takes place on Thanksgiving day to honor the 1969 Occupation of Alcatraz. The ceremony really celebrates the resistance & resilience of Indigenous People's as well on a day that is otherwise meant to rejoice in their slaughter. We took the Alcatraz ferry under the cover of darkness and arrived to the Island around 6 am. The glowing lights of the city made for a magical backdrop. But what we witnessed was even more special. Singing, dancing, prayers all in the name of remembrance & resistance. One woman singing had the most beautiful voice and sang "Red, Black, white, and yellow step into the group as one, begin again in peace and beauty mend and offer what we've done- this is the unification of all Nations..." Her voice was so beautiful and seemed to be calling the sun to rise. There were lots of traditional songs with drumming that could be felt deep down in your heart. At one point overhead all the seagulls were flying and looked like they were gathering for the song. We all put our hands up to the sun in prayer as we prayed for the healing of Mama Earth together as one. That prayer felt powerful to do with hundreds of other people. The sunrise the whole ceremony was indeed something so amazing to witness, the twilight was so many shades of beautiful the whole time. But nothing was more beautiful than praying for the healing of the world together as one with people from all different backgrounds & walks of life. At the end of the ceremony traditional dancers with their colorful clothing and beautiful bead work took center stage for a dance that was their culminating prayer. The sound of their anklets shaking and the motions in which their bodies were dancing to the rhythm and awakening the sun was so touching to witness. A dance of glory, beauty, resistance, and remembrance.
Highlights: The whole morning was spiritually soul shaking. I will never forget it and hope to bring my children every year to the sunrise ceremony for years to come. For more about this special ceremony you can read my full blog post on it by clicking here .
Tips: Get your tickets early this event sells out fast! Bring layers and a snack- it's super early in the morning. Plus arrive early to your boat ride to find parking. That was something we had not counted on and had to walk many blocks to find a decent space.