Civil rights activist and former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was honored Thursday at the "Unthanksgiving Day" event at Alcatraz, also known as the Indigenous People's Sunrise Gathering.
The annual event was started in 1975 in honor of the 1969-71 occupation of Alcatraz by 89 activists. The protest sought to replace the island's prison with a Native American cultural center and school, placing pressure on the United States government to honor The Treaty of Fort Laramie. The event is connected to the National Day of Mourning, a reaction against the accepted pro-settler celebrations of Thanksgiving in the United States.
Kaepernick received sacred eagle feathers at the sunrise ceremony, and expressed gratitude and solidarity in a speech. Read an excerpt below via SFGate:
"I realize that our fight is the same fight. We're all fighting for our justice, for our freedom, and realizing that we're in this fight together makes it all the more powerful.
If there's one thing that I take away from today and seeing the beauty of everybody out here, it's that we're only getting stronger every day, we're only getting larger and larger every day. I see the strength in everybody.
The dancing, the rituals – that is our resistance. We continue to fight. We continue to fight for justice. We fight for our freedom, and we continue on that path."
In January, Kaepernick donated $50,000 to the Mni Wiconi Health Clinic partnership at Standing Rock to help cover medical costs of water protectors at the Dakota Access Pipeline site. He was selected as the 2017 "Citizen of the Year" by GQ Magazine.