Johnny Depp with Comanche Tribal members in regalia at the 'Lone Ranger' premiere in Lawton, Oklahoma

Indians to Johnny Depp: 'Keep Your Word, Buy Wounded Knee'


The $3.9 million price tag on the site of the Wounded Knee massacre is steep -- but a fraction of Johnny Depp's paycheck from The Lone Ranger

A couple of news stories broke yesterday that commanded the attention of Indian country, and specifically the Oglala Sioux Tribe, to whom Wounded Knee is sacred ground. First was the revelation that Depp would like to buy the land and return it to the tribe. When contacted, Wounded Knee's owner said that he is eager to sell to Depp. "Johnny Depp has a lot of money," Czywczynski told ICTMN. "He could probably raise this money in a heartbeat." Tribal president Bryan Brewer also expressed enthusiasm, saying that "the possibility of his goodwill effort toward keeping this land intact and in tribal hands is amazing." 

Neither party has heard from Depp yet, but an online petition at directed at Depp and his agent seeks to push the actor to make good on his statements. Referencing Native peoples' history of disappointment at empty promises, the petition reads as follows:

"Keep your word. Promises to indigenous people are frequently made and broken. You promised to buy Wounded Knee and give it to the Sioux Nation. The owners want to sell.  Keep your word. Buy Wounded Knee and gift it freely to the Sioux Nation."

Read the petition: "Johnny Depp: Keep his word to buy Wounded Knee for the Sioux Nation."

According to, Johnny Depp makes in excess of $20 million per film. While making The Lone Ranger, Depp curried favor with both the Navajo Nation (where much of the movie was shot) and the Comanche Nation (Tonto's tribe, in this version of the story). Will the Oglala Sioux Tribe be next?

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BryanC's picture
Submitted by BryanC on
Why use the word "Indian" ? This makes it look as though all Nations are wanting to petition Johnny Depp in buying Wounded Knee, I'm not petitioning him?! I agree with Stevef. I believe it is a "very noble and great gesture" to buy the land and give it to the tribes in South Dakota, but Johnny Depp doesn't owe anyone anything, especially with the rude comments not only being made by some lakota people, but from the articles posted in the papers in indian country in South Dakota. Making suggestions that Johnny Depp isn't a real indian?!?! How would anyone know if he was or if he isn't?? If Johnny Depp purchases the land in time, then so be it. Let him make the decision on his own. If he doesn't purchase the land, I too respect this great actor for making the the gesture. I think it's very rude to try and guilt someone into doing something when doesn't owe it to anyone.

Sklyansky's picture
Submitted by Sklyansky on
It'd be a nice symbolic gesture, but the bigger story here is that Czywczynski is a shamless grifter attempting to extort $4 million off the tribe, or Depp, for land that is appraised at far less than $4 million (I read somewhere that the appraisal is 7k!). It should be in tribal hands, or at the very least, be a national historic site; I was shocked it was neither. Ideally, Depp would invest that much into native communities, but the funds would be for community development and would sustainably help communities Given the historical significant of Wounded Knee, I would think eminent domain would be applicable. Additonally, the mere notion that he'd buy the land has brought national attention to the fact the land itself wasn't owned by the tribes or was federally owned, which I believe is a big achievement in and of itself. As we all know, national attention to native issues is virtually non-existent. For example, when Columbine happened it brought national media attention, however when the Red Lake Massacre occurred (which was equally horrific), it was a brief blurb on news tickers and the national media focused almost exclusively on Terry Schaivo. Eminent domain should be used to seize the land.

mrssixx's picture
Submitted by mrssixx on
@stevef don't be daft! Who said OWE? just you! Commodity cheese, really? guess you never had to eat it! Your comment is pointless.

LARASPENCE's picture
Submitted by LARASPENCE on
Make it happen Mr Depp. God gives us talents for a reason, mostly to help others and he has put you in that financial position for causes just like these. I moved from the Mornington Peninsula, (just near Geoffrey Rush's house, where once you were sighted in the Balnarring Bakery by one of my girlfriends), to live and work amongst the Native Americans two and a half years ago. We have given all we have financially and still have so much work to do. Would love you to look at our work on the Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge Reservations. We are involved with a Motorcycle Ministry in Sharps Corner. Do you ride Motorcycles?

Andrea Montoya's picture
Andrea Montoya
Submitted by Andrea Montoya on
Has Johnny Depp publicly professed himself to buy this land that Bree has initiated a petition to Mr. Depp to keep his word? Wow, rather premature without getting facts and verification. This is ludicrous and in my opinion is stirring the pot! I would highly suggest trashing and not signing this petition it's laughable. I do believe for argument sake IF he were to do this and that's a big IF, he wouldn't need a petition to keep his word, he's got the financial resources and sincerity and honor to do it and is not indebted to anyone. The one you should be going after is the landowners whose greed and holding from the Oglala people is being kept. The landowner is responsible and should feel some responsibility to just hand the land back over to the people without any exchange of money and God will forgive him. Leave Johnny out of this. Besides, the picture above is not relative to anything. It was a picture taken in Lawton, Oklahoma at the screening of The Lone Ranger, cutting and pasting is a pastime of many to prove an unverified point. Shame, crossing and crossing fingers.

hesutu's picture
Submitted by hesutu on
I do not agree that Mr. Depp owes anyone anything. It is very sad to turn a nice gesture that he said he would look into into some sort of debt he is presumed to owe anyone. Furthermore, it would be extremely foolish to purchase this $7000 appraised land for the $4.9 million the landowner is now claiming he wants for it. The land will not become part of the reservation by purchasing it and will still be subject to state property tax. Purchasing at a massively inflated price will not only mean that the tribe will have to pay an incredibly high property tax that will be more each year than the entire land is actually worth, but the inflated sale will also have the result of jacking up property valuation of the adjacent land which the tribe does own. Can this tribe, home of the poorest people in the US with the lowest life expectancy of any nation in the world, afford to pay property tax? What will they have to give up to do so? Advocating this sale is doing harm to the Ogala Sioux.

Kati Katrina Marie
Kati Katrina Marie
Submitted by Kati Katrina Marie on
I think he should bitch slap the greed outta Czywczynski and offer him 7K

Domingo_Tamayo's picture
Submitted by Domingo_Tamayo on
Hello, I am an incoming junior at Rapid City's School of Mines and Technology from the Rosebud Reservation of which I'm enrolled. I have just recently found out that Johnny Depp offered to buy the Wounded Knee Massacre Site of his own accord. That's awesome, but considering this comment copied and pasted from this article: "Keep your word. Promises to indigenous people are frequently made and broken. You promised to buy Wounded Knee and give it to the Sioux Nation. The owners want to sell. Keep your word. Buy Wounded Knee and gift it freely to the Sioux Nation." Its demanding Mr. Depp to spend money out of his pocket and hand it over to the people that deserve it. That simply breaks common courtesy, when the owner (James C.) is often accused of being rude. Secondly, its emphasizes on how many promises have been broken before (in reference to treaties with the government) but the last treaty with the Lakota people (which includes the Oglala) was in 1868, 145 yrs ago. No one today is living from that point in time (but that is not to say we aren't still affected, but what is the drawing line to start bettering ourselves and stop relying on the government to take care of our problems as a community, obviously this does not apply to everyone). By the way, I'm actually curious about who said this if ICTMN could answer that for me, great. :)

Dr_Pete's picture
Submitted by Dr_Pete on
Isn't it time we abandoned the use of the word "Indian"? Just because Columbus thought he had reached India is no reason to perpetuate this erroneous terminology. What's wrong with "Native American" other than a few more letters? The Canadians have settled on "First Nations," so surely we can come up with a more accurate term than "Indian"!

istawina2013's picture
Submitted by istawina2013 on
I live in Wounded Knee and Iam also a decendant from the massacre, and Iam very grateful to Mr. Depp for making the offer that nobody can do. Yes we have heard of offers but not from someone that is well known as Mr. Depp. If he does or doesn't not that is his choice. Who has the right to decide who owns the land enough blood has been shed their and yet we still argue about what is to happen with the a descendant we were never offer a apology or compensation for what happened to our ancestors, but we want to make rude comments, I cry up to this day when I read about what happened her in Wounded knee and Im glad Mr. Depp understand the meaning of what this land means to can never put a price on tragedy or suffering and if he helps us heal from what our ancestors went thru I will be very Thankful.

Harvey Myron III
Harvey Myron III
Submitted by Harvey Myron III on
I'm not lakota but I know I would never want this FAKE!! to buy anything for me or mine!! let alone something like this.

Harvey Myron III
Harvey Myron III
Submitted by Harvey Myron III on
Strange just got a message that my last post is waiting for approval. I wouldn't think that a newspaper let alone a Native one would try and limit what you can or cannot say. But then who's to say who really owns it?

Hidden Wolf's picture
Hidden Wolf
Submitted by Hidden Wolf on
Do not force him. We are not beggars. We are a proud people and this is not our first or only loss. The land has tainted and cursed think about this. If it is sold and they build it will not stand. The spirits of the dead will not allow it to happen and the land will return to what it is now, unusable.

Cyndi Cuddeback Bembinster
Cyndi Cuddeback...
Submitted by Cyndi Cuddeback... on
I was at Wounded Knee many years ago. People are still bring alms, paying homage & patronage to a lost Nation. When I was there, I had no thoughts, but my heart was full of compassion, sadness, loss & aloneness. It's about time someone does the right thing. If, we, as 'civilized' people would have learned from the Indian Nations, maybe this world/earth wouldn't be in such turmoil. Americans are starving, & homeless. We are losing land to urbanization & then people complain & bitch either becuz they hit a deer & totaled there car or becuz there are no deer to hunt! Where are these helpless animals to go? If we, the 'civilized', would have treated the earth as the Indian Nations did, maybe life would be a lot simpler & for me, personally, happier. We are killing the earth, sky, seas/oceans etc. for what? Material things that in the end don't mean shit!