Associated Press/Rapid City Journal
This February 7, 2012 photo shows a cross on a grave at the Wounded Knee National Historic landmark in South Dakota.

Eminent Domain and a Horse Slaughterhouse at Wounded Knee?

Vincent Schilling
5/30/13

 

As the sale of the historic Wounded Knee site looms with several offers on the table for owner James Czywczynski, the Oglala Sioux Tribe has moved to seize the land using eminent domain, according to a report by Brandon Ecoffey, the managing editor of Native Sun News.

In addition to this development, a petition on a Care2 website claims that one of the parties interested in purchasing the site wants to build a horse slaughtering plant and has garnered more than 38,000 signatures.

According to Denise Mesteth, Tribal Land Office Director, the tribe is intending to seek recovery of the Wounded Knee site through eminent domain, however the claims that the tribe would allow a horse slaughterhouse to be built on or near Wounded Knee were false.

“That isn't right; it is definitely a misleading petition. It is amazing how rumors get around. This may have been an effort to hinder the eminent domain move,” said Mesteth.

On May 16, the council voted 14-0 to file in federal court to seek the land owned by Czywczynski. While eminent domain is an action where a government utilizes its power to seize the private property of an individual or group of people for use by the state, some tribal law experts say this might be an exercise in futility.

But Mesteth says, “It’s all we’ve got.”

Speaking under the condition of anonymity, a federal Indian law attorney in Washington, D.C. told Ecoffey that the likelihood of eminent domain working for the tribe in the case of Wounded Knee was low.

“It would be very hard for me to see the tribe pull this off,” the source said. “If this was truly a viable option for tribes then it would be extremely easy for tribes to consolidate their land bases. They could simply seize whatever they wanted from non-members within the confines of the reservation, provided they pay just compensation. Who determines what just compensation is?”

Czywczynski told ICTMN he is waiting for a specific buyer to purchase the land for the benefit of the tribe. “There are others that are waiting to buy this property, but I am waiting for this person who is buying it for the benefit of the tribe. I want the tribe to have this property,” he said.

Mesteth did confirm that there is a submitted initiative by tribal members to consider a horse slaughterhouse, but it would not be built on the site of Wounded Knee even if it were approved. She also said any possibility that the tribe would build on Wounded Knee were unfounded and that the tribe was putting measures in place to protect the site.

“There was a move on the council floor this Tuesday [May 28] to create a three-mile radius buffer for all additional development in the area of Wounded Knee,” she said.

Mesteth says the creation of a horse slaughterhouse is only an initiative that was presented to the tribal council and that any such thing would need to be presented to all of the tribal districts and approved before anything moved forward.

“We are not saying any of this will happen, the plan is not to use horses on a reservation and they are not going to just pick them up off the range and take them to the slaughterhouse, they will buy from the sale house,” she said.

Mesteth says, because there are no slaughterhouses in the United States because they have been outlawed since 2007, it would create a revenue opportunity for the tribe.

“There is only one in Mexico and one in Canada. The market is high now because I guess there is a foreign market for horse meat, although I wouldn’t eat it. All this said, it will bring jobs and some kind of revenue to our reservation,” she said.

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Mary Holler's picture
Mary Holler
Submitted by Mary Holler on
It is inhuman to eat horse Really "IF" my family was starving and I had "NO" other choice then I could probly "BUT " American people ARE nowhere near starvation If anything they need to cut back cows were made for their meat and milk but even then they deserve better treatment to the slaughter one shot one kill there was a guy that shot a horse 11 times before the horse died with the so called one shot killer and another guy was laughing when he shot a horse and it didn't die and whinnied and he told it he loved it too shooting it again CRUELITY IS JUST PLAN CRUELITY !!! I am astounded at the means people will take just for a dollar the breeders should have to pay so much for horse maybe they wouldn't over breed

Mary Holler's picture
Mary Holler
Submitted by Mary Holler on
It is inhuman to eat horse Really "IF" my family was starving and I had "NO" other choice then I could probly "BUT " American people ARE nowhere near starvation If anything they need to cut back cows were made for their meat and milk but even then they deserve better treatment to the slaughter one shot one kill there was a guy that shot a horse 11 times before the horse died with the so called one shot killer and another guy was laughing when he shot a horse and it didn't die and whinnied and he told it he loved it too shooting it again CRUELITY IS JUST PLAN CRUELITY !!! I am astounded at the means people will take just for a dollar the breeders should have to pay so much for horse maybe they wouldn't over breed

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I don't think starting a horse slaughterhouse is the way to go... They should start a "buy Wounded Knee" land lottery for $10.00. They could have a horse Pavilion for outdoor contests and riding stables for children. Keep everything Native born and Native culture alive for generations to come.

elizabeth dana's picture
elizabeth dana
Submitted by elizabeth dana on
My heart bleeds to hear even the words of horse and slaughter...it is a trick to think anything good can come from this...when did kill and life begin a sentence...you will lose your spirits if you kill horses for money....there will be blood curses from spilling blood...the spirits are angry that you think of this as honorable....

A concerned person!!!!'s picture
A concerned per...
Submitted by A concerned per... on
I would think that Wounded Knee, would be considered a historical site and not sold and that the owner would keep it with the people of the tribes!!!! As for the horses, no please do not do that!!! How long have people being trying to keep the wild horses safe, because you know that they will end up in that slaughter house!!! Horses have been a main instrument in the building of this country and is a scared animal to the native tribes all over this country and around the world!!!! There are better means to raise money for the tribes, but this is not one of them!!!!

mayville's picture
mayville
Submitted by mayville on
I can't believe that anyone is even thinking about using that land! It's a historical landmark!

gary white's picture
gary white
Submitted by gary white on
it should be given back to the people of the land.the government can build a museum or shrine for the jews, the black slaves , even one just new one I can't think of now. but somehow the real first people on this land,are always forgotten and overlooked. many woman,children and elderly were slautered here.and the so called americans and govt.don't care. I do! do what is right!!

aiahninchi ohoyo's picture
aiahninchi ohoyo
Submitted by aiahninchi ohoyo on
wouldnt it be GREAT if the sovereign lakota nation could work 'eminent domain' (its still ndn land folks, in spite of the underhanded way you acquired it)to reacquire this sacred land that NEVER should have found its way into the hands of a whiteman in the first place....for shame!!!....

Rose Skybull's picture
Rose Skybull
Submitted by Rose Skybull on
in the article it says there are federal law attorneys in DC who say it is a low possibility of utilizing eminent domain in recovering wounded knee to the benefit of Oglala tribe. Well I think these attorneys in DC are so acculturated and lost their sense of integrity, of course they will agree with the government, no matter if its wrong. One article says some nuns in Westchester confiscated Indian/tribal land for use of a church? WHAT? my father said to me when I was small when I didn't want to return to boarding school, go back there and learn all you can about their language, education and laws, one day use what you learned against these people to get back your children, land and freedom. We need to stand united against this horse slaughterhouse and respect our ancestors' sacred ground. The tribal council has the ability to do great things for the Oglala people, we need to start holding our representatives responsible for their actions and the need for more transparency of council members.

Bill W's picture
Bill W
Submitted by Bill W on
Many white people who read this site will react in horror at the idea of a slaughterhouse anywhere in the U.S. They see the horse as something symbolic of freedom and the native spirit- which it is. What is interesting though is that they ignore the 80% unemployment on the reservation and the long term repurcussions of what this means. I'm not for a slaughterhouse- the horse is my brother- but let's not get lost in what is really being discussed.

joyce barnes's picture
joyce barnes
Submitted by joyce barnes on
are you kidding me.?? buy horses from sale houses and slaughter them. Sounds like white man ways to me. Sounds just like competition powwows. Happy my heart is an old heart. This makes me very sad. My heart cries.

Frank Layden's picture
Frank Layden
Submitted by Frank Layden on
I am not a Native American but I have been a supporter of American Indian rights and protection. I am appaled the Tribal Council would even consider a Horse Slaughter House on sacred land or even taking part in that inhumane activity at all. I ask them this, would you then slaughter the sacred wolf, your trusted friend the dog and you most valuable friend, the horse. Do not let me lose faith in the Ogala, the Lacota, the sacred brothers of the plains and all Indians.

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