AP File Photo
A historical marker commemorates the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 near Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

Wounded Knee Back on the Block: Will It Be Sold to an Outsider?

Vincent Schilling


Earlier this month, James Czywczynski, the owner of the Wounded Knee site told the Oglala Sioux Tribe they had until Labor Day, September 2 to purchase the land. As the date approaches, tribal President Bryan Brewer says he isn’t worried about the deadline.

In an interview on the Native Trailblazers online radio program, Brewer said Czywczynski’s claims are nothing new. “He has been threatening to sell this land for years. This isn’t the first time.”

He added that even if Czywczynski sold Wounded Knee to an outsider, it would be unusable. “One of the problems is that our tribal lands completely surround his 34 acres. There is no way anyone could ever get to this land to do any type of development or anything else… the tribe would not allow it.

“He wants to sell it, and it has only been valued at about $8,000,” Brewer said. “The owner has valued this land at $6 million, so I say to him, ‘Then why aren’t you paying taxes on land that is valued at $6 million?’ I and some of the descendants of Wounded Knee met with him and I told him, ‘No one will ever buy this.’”

Czywczynski says he has given the tribe every opportunity to buy the land, and believes the tribe has enough money to buy the site. “They received $31 million from the Cobell settlement and they didn’t buy it then,” he said.

Brewer is still hopeful that someone will act on behalf of the tribe. “Some people have said they want to buy this land and return it to the tribe–we may get the land back, but he will be the only one that benefits financially from the sale. I told him that we would gladly offer to support and bless the sale if he could find a place in his heart to give half the money to the descendants of Wounded Knee so that we could fix up the area and our own people could learn about what really happened there. Our history books don’t tell the story.

“I just don't understand someone making this much money off this land and putting it into their pocket and walking away.”

Czywczynski is still hopeful he will sell Wounded Knee for the full asking price. “I hope to, one way or another we are going to get this done.”

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chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on
the oglalas better quit being so smug about no one buying this sacred land...some indian hater white guy/corporation may just come along and snap it up for pure spite...im still not really understanding how it came to be in the hands of white people anyway unless it really didnt spritually mean what was assumed it should mean in the hearts and minds of the people...

MDaugherty's picture
Submitted by MDaugherty on
So where are all the rich natives at to buy this land. The actors, authors, filmmakers that make hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars? Where are they? Why aren't they making an effort to come together and put money down for this land?

fasthorselakota's picture
Submitted by fasthorselakota on
I am an Oglala Lakota and this is my land. Your comments mean nothing to me. Your heart is small and you are spiritually lost to say such things to a suffering people. Do you not realize that it does not matter who buys it? The land is haunted by the elders, and the purchaser will find no peace there. History has shown ongoing conflict with this land when white people come. That is why Czywczynski has met with misfortune and wants to sell at such a high price. It is not a living person removing Czywczynski or to remove the new purchaser. It will be no person or paperwork they can see. It will be the elders that continue to rise from the graves....warriors once again....to remove them until it is given back to us. They are determined not to lose the fight again. In the meantime, our land surrounds our elders like a warm blanket until it is returned. "One does not sell the land people walk on" - Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota

realtimemike's picture
Submitted by realtimemike on
I am a white man. Until I visited the Pine Ridge reservation last May, I only thought I knew the history of the Lakota. One weekend there opened by eyes; it's an experience that left me forever changed. While I do not personally believe in ghosts, per se, what I can tell you is there is something there around Wounded Knee. It's in the air. It's palpable. History in books is only written by the victors, not their victims and it saddens me to think that my ancestors did this to the Lakota in my name.