Associated Press
Will Johnny Depp buy the site of Wounded Knee and return it to the Oglala Sioux Tribe?

Owner of Wounded Knee Eager to Sell to Johnny Depp

Vincent Schilling


Deep in this Daily Mail feature on Johnny Depp, the actor who portrayed Tonto in Disney’s Lone Ranger re-boot expresses a desire to buy the site of Wounded Knee and return it to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. While landowner James Czywczynski and tribal president Bryan Brewer say the purchase would be a noble gesture, neither have heard from Depp.

“It’s very sacred ground and many atrocities were committed against the Sioux there. And in the 1970s there was a stand-off between the Feds and the people who should own that land,” Depp told the Daily Mail. “This historical land is so important to the Sioux culture and all I want to do is buy it and give it back. Why doesn’t the government do that?”

Brewer, upon hearing the news from Indian Country Today Media Network, welcomed the possibility and said the tribe would be more than willing to meet with Depp. “The fact that Johnny Depp would say this is really something,” he said. “If he would like to speak with us that would be great. We certainly appreciate his concern for this matter and the respect he is demonstrating to our people. The possibility of his goodwill effort toward keeping this land intact and in tribal hands is amazing.”

When Czywczynski put the site on the open market for $3.9 million in May, he never imagined the international exposure he would receive. He certainly never expected a celebrity like Depp to get involved. “I just got the news about [Depp’s interest] an hour ago and I don't know what to think about it,” he said.

Czywczynski reiterated that his top priority is that whoever purchases the property give it to the tribe. “I really don’t care who buys it and donates it to the Oglala Sioux Tribe as long as somebody does it,” he said. “Johnny Depp has a lot of money. He could probably raise this money in a heartbeat. So I was kind of glad to see some national and international exposure.”

Czywczynski said there are a few anonymous donors attempting to raise the money to buy the site for the tribe. “Right now we have several possible donors. There is someone on the West Coast... We are also working with another group and now this has come up. So there are three or four groups right now. I guess whoever comes up with the money first is going to be the winner.”

Brewer, meanwhile, said the tribal council is still attempting to reclaim the site through legal means. “Our tribal council wanted to try and get this land back through the court system because they feel that this man [Czywczynski] will get so much money over what it is worth. Whoever purchases this land will never be able to use it because it is surrounded by tribal land. They would never get an easement to use it for anything. James Czywczynski said he was going to put this land up for sale, the deadline passed and no one bought it.”

When asked what she thought about Depp buying Wounded Knee, Georgine Looks Twice, of the Tribal Land Office, said: “This is awesome—I was really waiting for someone to step forward… More than anything, I just want to get to see him.”

But as the Daily Mail asked, is Depp really prepared to buy the land? “I am doing my best to make that happen,” the actor told the paper. “It’s land they were pushed on to and then they were massacred there. It really saddens me.”

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chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
whoa....i still dont know why the money-grubbing old white man has possession of this land to begin with....what insane fool/s took many-times hallowed ground and sold it to him?? or did i miss something...

builds-the-fire's picture
Submitted by builds-the-fire on
If Czywczynski is the land owner, and he has stated that whoever purchases the property must give it to the Ogala, why doesn't he just donate it back to the Oglala Sioux Tribe himself? No one should purchase this land.

tlakwa's picture
Submitted by tlakwa on
James Czywczynski is pretending to be honorable, meanwhile all he wants is money. Czywczynski -- a bolder statement would be to give the land back yourself, you KNOW what is right, don't wait for someone else to make the right move, you are the one with the deadline James.

haroldburbank's picture
Submitted by haroldburbank on
tribe should reclaim by law (suit) and get its costs to do it. should be some pro bono lawyers out there to help. if not i'll help find some.

hammertime's picture
Submitted by hammertime on
jonny depp is worth probably 100 mil or more.. 4 mil dollars is like nothing to him..its just another boat or toy in his world.. .. The lone ranger movie stunk, but if jonny finds it in his heart to settle this whole thing and then give this land back to the tribe then that would be a good and noble thing to do..... I hope it happens and the tribe can do something good with the property

builds-the-fire's picture
Submitted by builds-the-fire on
I remember the questions they used to ask in math class. I remember thinking, "When in the world will I ever have to calculate at what time, and in what city two trains will meet up?" The case of Czywczyuski reminds me of those old math questions. Question 1: Does Czywczyuski currently pay or owe taxes on the land he wants to sell? Questions 2 and 3: If he pays taxes, what does the IRS base his tax rate on? Is it the value of the land at $14,000 for both parcels? Question 4: Czywczyuski doesn't care who buys it, so long as they give (underscore "give" here) it to the Oglala, right? Math question: Tell me please, do you have to pay taxes on a gift that you own? How much does Johnny pay in taxes if Johnny owns something valued at $4.3 million dollars? How much does Johnny's neighbors pay in taxes because the value of what Czywczyuski wants to sell has--in polite circles--more than doubled in value? If Johnny and his neighbors can't pay their taxes, what happens to their land? Could the government sell it for the taxes owed—and revalue the land for less? If the taxes owed equal $4.3 million or less, well only a millionaire with $4.3 million could buy it…but who…who in the world has THAT kind of money?? Those old math questions seemed hard at first, but once you figured out the answer to them a couple of times, answers to other questions like them just seemed to fall into place. But what’s the answer to the math question above? Answer: Czywczyuski's revenge... Analysis: No one should pay a dime to this man for that land.

Savage Lynx
Savage Lynx
Submitted by Savage Lynx on
General America, of which I'm a part, has no idea about the trials and tribulations you guys (Native Americans) go through. I am sympathetic, empathetic and emphatically horrified, so, I listen and ask questions, whenever the opportunity arises. I think our government (the States) should shoulder the responsibility for this type of ordeal, but what will it take? People like Depp are helping the situation by kindling interest, and time will tell if those people follow up.... or not. What will it take? To wake our government up. This may seem wrong or oversimplified. I can only see it from my point of view. Lobbying? Petitions? I believe if the average american were aware of this situation, for instance, they would vote for the landowner to give it back, or the government should take a look at the poverty, etc, and stop doing nothing.

Joni Whiting
Joni Whiting
Submitted by Joni Whiting on
Well whomever buys it needs to have the U.S government pay them back for it since it shouldn't be for sale since it wasn't legally purchased and the Oglala Sioux still have ownership rights.

Jacqueline Gowran
Jacqueline Gowran
Submitted by Jacqueline Gowran on
The "KISS" method, (keep it simple stupid) needs to be applied here. Plain and simple, you can not buy what is not owned. No one owned the land that the government claimed was theirs. Then they claimed ownership, and sold it, in many instances to people that couldn't afford it. So.... Their plan began. The great so called American dream, "Debt". Something that our government has failed horribly at themselves. I don't play into any of this. It is what it is now. We all need to stop buying into this. One day the "dream" is going to turn into a nightmare. Karma.

Pahokatawitz's picture
Submitted by Pahokatawitz on
It’s obvious. This Czywczynski fella just wants to raise enough money to buy a vowel.

Tim Lafleur
Tim Lafleur
Submitted by Tim Lafleur on
if every piece of land that an Indian was killed on had to be given back to the tribe, there wouldn't be any land left! stop your effin' whinin' and go get a job! by the way Gambling and getting drunk are not considered jobs. the indians were a conquered people and after that they gave up! grow a pair...and stand up and be proud! you keep yourselves segregated from the world but when you need help you sure call on the world to help. sick of it! Oh, and finally, clean up this wonderful, Holy, Sacred ground that you have! you tribes are a joke....just like the effin' blacks! ITS BEEN @)) YEARS>>>GET OVER IT!

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
The property is land locked? .No easement??? How did that happen. How'd jc get the land to begin with? should start there first.

Singapura's picture
Submitted by Singapura on
Why doesn't this Czywczynski just give back the land himself without asking money? Or is it because he doesn't care THAT much what happens to it.

Shadow-Wolf's picture
Submitted by Shadow-Wolf on
Its about time someone does what is right. let us just hope that it will be done and the spirits of those who died there will be finally at peace.