Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick came out to support the Indigenous People’s Sunrise Ceremony on Alcatraz on Thursday.
The event, on a day often referred to as “Unthanksgiving Day,” has been a tradition since 1975 and is meant as a commemoration of the American Indians who occupied the island from 1969-71, according to SFGate. The 89 activists involved in the occupation were seeking to turn the former penitentiary and surrounding areas of the island into an American Indian school and cultural center.
Unthanksgiving Day is “about reflecting, remembering and celebrating that we are still here and our culture still survives,” Michael Horse, an American Indian actor who takes part in the ceremony on Alcatraz, told Newsweek.
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Hartman Deetz of the Wampanoag tribe told Newsweek he doesn’t eat on Thanksgiving, calling it the “Day of Mourning.” He said Thanksgiving is just like any other day in which American Indians’ existence is denied, with the addition of more gluttony.
Kaepernick said in a Twitter post with a video that he joined the ceremony Thursday “in solidarity with those celebrating their culture and paying respects to those that participated in the 19-month occupation of Alcatraz.”
“I realize that our fight is the same fight,” Kaepernick said to cheers. “We’re all fighting for our justice, for our freedom and realizing that we are in this fight together makes us all the more powerful.”
After Kaepernick’s speech, the ceremony continued as the sun rose above Alcatraz.