Indigenous Peoples’ Sunrise Gathering, Alcatraz
Picked up at 4:06am to go to San Francisco, got ticket to ride ferry to Alcatraz Island and sat, stood, sang, drummed my thigh and danced with my sisters and brothers. Smoke from the fires of Napa and Sonoma gave everything a misty yellowish hue. Standing on the island I listened to each speaker, each prayer for peace, for the earth and for each of us, each song. As the sky began its journey to day it was hard to believe that the smoke was not thick cloud and hope for a clear view of a rising sun faded. There were periodic disruptions by a Guard’s unnecessarily loud and obvious walkie talkie almost deliberately timed to disrupt the quiet contemplation of the morning.
I turned to where I thought the sun might have already risen and there piercing thick smoke were brightly glowing red embers of the beginning of the sun rise. It was red, bright non orange red. It rose majestically but not as always. Its light dimmed in intensity but more than made up for in distortedly enormous size. The smoke around it glowed intense red and the sun continued rising higher, above the layer of smoke, until its intensity was too much for my eyes.
The moon watched on until the sun returned to his normal intensity, colour and size, when she began to fade.
The beautifully plumed headdresses of dancers so carefully brought, so rich, large and regal, tiny ones in tiny replica plumage, in ritual dress so colourful, and then the drums warmed from the central fire placed upright, began to be played. The dancers just visible through crowds of people danced their sacred ceremonial dance.