50th Anniversary of Attica Prison Uprising – September 9-13, 1971

“With our deepest respects, we dedicate this issue of TML Supplement to all the men, women and youth valiantly fighting to abolish the racist U.S. prison system and those in other countries including Canada.”

On September 9, 1971 a rebellion started at the Attica Maximum Security Prison in upstate New York which ended with the brutal massacre conducted by New York State Troopers sent in by Governor Nelson Rockefeller on September 13, 1971.

TML Monthly has published a special memorial supplement, providing the history as recorded by Attica Is All of Us Coalition, as well as an excerpt from the Memorial delivered by John Steinbach on Attica Brother Dacajeweiah (Splitting the Sky) at his funeral in 2013. Dacajeweiah was put into the U.S. prison system and ended up at Attica where he took part in the rebellion. He was subsequently condemned to life in prison on false charges that he killed a prison guard during the uprising.

“Our thoughts go out to Dacajeweaiah who passed away in 2013 from all the trauma he experienced throughout his life and to all the Attica Brothers on this occasion as well as to all those families, resistance fighters, justice-seeking lawyers and advocates for those incarcerated by the U.S. prison system. They have fought and continue to fight to end this brutal racist and inhuman system of injustice which prevails in the United States. They contribute enormously to the creation of a society which affirms the rights of all without exception. Their experience is proof that Our Security Lies in the Fight for the Rights of All.

“With our deepest respects, we dedicate this issue of TML Supplement to all the men, women and youth valiantly fighting to abolish the racist U.S. prison system and those in other countries including Canada.[1]

“Join the work of Attica Is All of Us! For information click here.”

• Attica Means Fight Back! Close Attica Down Now!
• Prisoners Condemn Slave Labour in the Prisons
• About the Attica Uprising – Attica Is All of Us
• Dacajeweiah: Childhood and Youth
– John Steinbach


1. In the 1970s, the U.S. prison system was crumbling. In Walpole, San Quentin, Soledad, Angola and many other prisons, the prisoners fought to defend their rights. Since the 1970s, the prisoner population has ballooned and technologies of control and confinement have developed into the most sophisticated and repressive in world history. The prisons have become more dependent on slavery and torture to maintain their stability. Many are private, with the judges who send the prisoners to serve time owning the prisons and reaping the profits of monies received from the state for the maintenance of the prisoners which they pocket.

The U.S. calls itself the model of democracy in the world but is the greatest abuser of human rights ever. There were roughly 2.12 million people incarcerated in the United States in 2020 out of a population of 329,064,917 people. By comparison, the estimated prison population in China in 2020, totalled 1.71 million people for a country with a population of 1,433,783,686 people.

In Canada, the system is no less racist and inhumane. In 2017/18, on any given day 38,786 adults and 792 youth (aged 12 to 17 years) were incarcerated in Canada (federal and provincial), for a total of 39, 578 prisoners.

In Canada, compared to all other categories of accused persons, Indigenous people continue to be jailed younger, denied bail more frequently, granted parole less often and hence released later in their sentence, over-represented in segregation, over represented in remand custody, and more likely to be classified as higher risk offenders. They are more likely to have needs in categories like employment, community integration, and family supports. (Parkes 2012; Green 2012)

Although Indigenous adults represent only about three per cent of the adult population in Canada, they are over represented in admissions to provincial and territorial correctional services; in 2015-2016, they accounted for 26 per cent of admissions. (Statistics Canada 2016) Among women, 38 per cent of those admitted to provincial and territorial sentenced custody were Indigenous, while the comparable figure for men was 26 percent of admissions identified as Indigenous. (Ibid.) In the federal correctional services, Indigenous women accounted for 31 per cent of female admissions to sentenced custody, while Indigenous men accounted for 23 per cent of admissions. (Ibid.)

The discrepancies between Indigenous and non-Indigenous incarceration rates are more pronounced in certain jurisdictions than in others. For example, while the proportion of Indigenous persons sentenced to imprisonment is double their representation in the Quebec population, in Saskatchewan the proportion of Indigenous inmates is roughly seven times higher than their representation in the provincial population. Although the problem of over representation of Indigenous adults in corrections is a general problem in most jurisdictions, particularly for remand and sentenced custody, the problem is more pronounced in the Western provinces.

(Photo and illustration: Attica News, Project NIA)

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