In determining the significance of Alcatraz Island, the island’s different values must be taken into account. Alcatraz Island has restitutive, cultural, economic, environmental, historical, social and spiritual values. It represents a pivotal moment for the Native American movement and also has considerable historic value as a former Military Fortress and as a Federal Penitentiary.
The environmental values of Alcatraz include unique geological formations, rare birds, and an abundance of plants. The flora on Alcatraz have significant value because they were introduced to the island and cultivated for decades.
Social, Spiritual and Symbolic Values
Since Alcatraz has a significant amount of history, it also has a significant amount of social, spiritual and symbolic value. For Native Americans the island stands as a symbol of Native American activism and to them it always has been and always will be “Indian Land”. With the advent of the “Unthanksgiving” ceremony, Alcatraz Island has also become a place with spiritual values. The island’s social values pertain to anyone who has had a relationship to the island, for example prisoners, prison guards and their families during the island’s time as a federal penitentiary.
By realizing the overall significance of Alcatraz Island, the National Park Service has created a well thought-out and comprehensive management plan that helps to preserve the island’s values and minimize the threats to the site. The aim of this management plan has been to conserve and protect the island’s significance and to make it available for future generations to appreciate. Nevertheless, the National Park Service should place more emphasis on the period (1969-1971) when it was occupied by Native Americans.
View of SF from Alcatraz
By Julia Frers-Karno