Mixed Emotions Over Wounded Knee Massacre Site Being For Sale

ICTMN Staff
3/30/13

James A. Czywczynski of Rapid City, South Dakota bought the 40-acre plot where the Wounded Knee massacre occurred, in 1968. He moved away in 1973 after the American Indian Movement occupation, and now he’s asking $3.9 million for the land.

Czywczynski tells the New York Times this is a fair price considering the land’s historical value.

“That historical value means something to us, not him,” Garfield Steele, a member of the Oglala Lakota Nation tribal council who represents Wounded Knee, told the New York Times. “We see that greed around here all the time with non-Indians. To me, you can’t put a price on the lives that were taken there.”

This land being for sale raises all the same questions raised last year when the sacred site of Pe’ Sla in the Black Hills went on the auction block. The Great Sioux Nation was able to purchase the land for $9 million, but should they have had to buy back land that was theirs to begin with? The same question applies here.

Some still call the Wounded Knee Massacre of December 29, 1890 a “battle,” but by the end of it at least 150 Lakota men, women and children had been killed. Some estimates put the death toll closer to 300.

Czywczynski tells the New York Times that he’s been trying to sell the land to the Oglala Sioux for three decades.

“They never could agree on anything,” he said. “They either did not have the money; some wanted it, some didn’t want it; it was too high, too low. I’ve come to the conclusion now, at my age, I’m 74 years old, I’m going to sell the property.”

He told the newspaper that if the tribe doesn’t buy by May 1, he’ll put the land up for auction. But the Oglala Sioux can't afford his asking price. Treasurer Mason Big Crow told the New York Times the tribe would have to borrow money to purchase the land.

And there’s discord among tribal members about how to proceed. Some want to build a memorial, others feel there needs to be some sort of economic development.

“Whenever we discuss this Wounded Knee massacre topic, it takes us into a deep, deep psychological state because we have to relive the whole horror,” Nathan Blindman, 56, one of whose ancestors survived the massacre, told the New York Times. “Anything that might indicate that as descendants we’re profiting from our ancestors’ tragedy, we can’t ever do that.”

Read the full story at NYTimes.com.

Read more

Wounded Knee Massacre Site Not a Good Investment for Speculators

Wounded Knee: Still Wounded After All These Years

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Sandi Owensby's picture
Sandi Owensby
Submitted by Sandi Owensby on
I visited here two years ago. I thought this was a national/historical landmark...how can it be for sale?? The price is too much, you should be giving it back to the people it was stolen from to begin with, should have never been 'sold' in the first place!

Patty Duong's picture
Patty Duong
Submitted by Patty Duong on
The land should be donated back to the Sioux Tribe. It was theirs in the fist place.

Yvonne Huygens's picture
Yvonne Huygens
Submitted by Yvonne Huygens on
This is a true shame, my thought is this; why not put it up as a historical monument. They did on 911. Oh! Wait, I know why because it belongs to a bunch of savages right! Why do people have to be so dam greedy? If I had the money I would buy it and GIFT to the Sioux Nation. This is the way it should go. All I would even consider in return is to visit this BEAUTIFUL LAND AND THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE THERE. I once visited knee and it is an experience one can not easily forget. My heart was so deeply sadden that all I could do is just stand there. Since then I have wanted to go back and visit once again. IT IS BY FAR, EVEN THOUGH IT CRIES OUT TO YOU THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO RECONNECT WITH THE OLD ONES. I pray that the Great Spirit, makes it possible for these beautiful people to get there land back. It is so sad when you have to buy back what was rightfully yours to begin with. My prayers are with you because thats all I have, however prayers are very strong medicine.

Yvonne Huygens's picture
Yvonne Huygens
Submitted by Yvonne Huygens on
This is a true shame, my thought is this; why not put it up as a historical monument. They did on 911. Oh! Wait, I know why because it belongs to a bunch of savages right! Why do people have to be so dam greedy? If I had the money I would buy it and GIFT to the Sioux Nation. This is the way it should go. All I would even consider in return is to visit this BEAUTIFUL LAND AND THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE THERE. I once visited knee and it is an experience one can not easily forget. My heart was so deeply sadden that all I could do is just stand there. Since then I have wanted to go back and visit once again. IT IS BY FAR, EVEN THOUGH IT CRIES OUT TO YOU THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE TO RECONNECT WITH THE OLD ONES. I pray that the Great Spirit, makes it possible for these beautiful people to get there land back. It is so sad when you have to buy back what was rightfully yours to begin with. My prayers are with you because thats all I have, however prayers are very strong medicine.

Becky Malone's picture
Becky Malone
Submitted by Becky Malone on
Why was he allowed to BUY land that was supposed to be a part pf the reservation "reserved" for the Lakota. Sounds like another dirty deal! Another greedy white man! How can the poorest people in the country pay him what he wants.....this is an outrage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
I agree we the people should have it back,but go ahead let him put it on auction it will be cheaper maybe the others won't want to give the ridiculous amount he wants after all the land is only 40 acres every rancher who may surround it wont give over 500 an acre for it dair martket value. That is just fuckin stupid and greedy on his behalf. I wish I had land adjoining it because I would buy it and give it back for a memorial not a development.

Bob Wright's picture
Bob Wright
Submitted by Bob Wright on
This land SHOULD be given back to the Lakota Nation!!! It's a burial ground and it belongs to them!!! PERIOD!!! No questions!!! No remarks!!! Just give it back!!!

sue c ogden's picture
sue c ogden
Submitted by sue c ogden on
THAT white man should at his age consider willing that land back to the original people who lived and still live there! What is he looking for - money t buy a piece of his heaven or what? A memorial site like this would remind future generations of the horrors and hopes from the past. I hope all involved make the right decisions.

evelyn goodshot-Segovia's picture
evelyn goodshot...
Submitted by evelyn goodshot... on
How did a white man get possession of the sacred ground anyway??? Another theft??!!!

c5vanzile5's picture
c5vanzile5
Submitted by c5vanzile5 on
Oglala are you paying attention here? Some people are going to bat for you here! A lot of us would donate, I believe other tribes as well. Please consider the fact that like someone else mentioned Council can buy the land back at 1.50 per acre due to eminent domain or whatever. That much can be raised! Look at what Troy Wilkinson wrote also, we are with you be encouraged!!

Skraelingsmit's picture
Skraelingsmit
Submitted by Skraelingsmit on
As an anglo I can only imagine what it is like to wake up everyday a Native American Indian in these United States knowing that when the violent attempts of genocide ended they were followed by attempts at cultural genocide. The non-payment of what is due to Indian tribes from the 30 Billion dollar decision by a federal judge during the Clinton administration only adds to the never ending national disgrace that continues to psychologically harm every Indian for generations back and to come. One way to begin healing is ACKNOWLEDGEMENT of PAST WRONGS. Another way is to honor these peoples by setting aside lands that they consider historically sacred. One of the most famous even to anglos is the site of WOUNDED KNEE. What keeps the people and the governments of South Dakota and the United States of America from doing the correct thing? Not to bequeath these sacred lands, especially now as Wounded Knee is being auctioned is perpetuating a form of genocide that is disgusting. How dare our government preach to others while it has this obvious unanswered legacy.

Ewan Scott's picture
Ewan Scott
Submitted by Ewan Scott on
The Lakota must acquire this land and surely it should be maintained as a memorial. In Scotland we have such places in and visitors may come without payment to remember, or to appreciate the past and the present. A visitor centre can educate the visitors and need make no charge nor profit - as is the case at perhaps the most visited war memorial in Belgium - Tyn Cot. These places are spitirual and should not be debased by profiteering.

Jacky's picture
Jacky
Submitted by Jacky on
This is heart breaking. I don't understand why someone would be cruel enough to try and sell a grave site (of people not his own, apparently)! I feel like if he had any ancestors buried there he would think otherwise. I really hope the tribe retains this land, and that it's not developed. I've been to Pine Ridge, and to the Wounded Knee site, and I hope to go back some day. I really hope that when I do, I won't be looking at some museum. Part of the beauty of the Reservation, apart from the actual people, is the raw realness. Indians are not a TOURIST DESTINATION, and the reservation shouldn't be either.

meggan's picture
meggan
Submitted by meggan on
let the land stand bare and free to nature. no development. let the stark bareness stand for the horror and loss of the human beings who were all Great Spirits children. let its bareness signify the loss of great people who were tread upon by the white men, (who were ignorant of the lands meaning,) and also what it stands for now. Let our people, all of the creators children, lie in peace. Let it stand for the injustice that occured then, and perhaps now. Why did he buyf the land in the first place? money, fame? He could gain more fame by donating the land back to our Native american peoples, as well as lesson to our children.

Norman's picture
Norman
Submitted by Norman on
What is up with the statements that the Battle of Wounded Knee happened in 1968? Ignorance seems to be everywhere now days. If you are going to write a widely distributed article, how about doing just a little research first? Not to be confused with Wounded Knee Incident. Wounded Knee Massacre Part of the Ghost Dance War, Sioux Wars Mass grave for the dead Lakota after the massacre at Wounded Knee Creek Date December 29, 1890 Location Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Belligerents United States Miniconjou Lakota Hunkpapa Lakota Commanders and leaders James W. Forsyth Spotted Elk † Strength 500 effectives: 7th U.S. Cavalry: 438 troopers[1] 22 artillerymen with four Hotchkiss guns 30 Oglala Indian scouts 120 men[2] 230 civilian women and children also present Casualties and losses 25 killed, 39 wounded (6 fatally) about 300: 90 men killed 200 women and children killed[3] 51 wounded (7 fatally) Native American losses include civilian casualties [show] v t e Ghost Dance War The Wounded Knee Massacre occurred on December 29, 1890,[4] near Wounded Knee Creek (Lakota: Čhaŋkpé Ópi Wakpála) on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, USA. It was the last battle of the American Indian Wars. On the day before, a detachment of the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment commanded by Major Samuel M. Whitside intercepted Spotted Elk's band of Miniconjou Lakota and 38 Hunkpapa Lakota near Porcupine Butte and escorted them five miles westward (8 km) to Wounded Knee Creek, where they made camp. The remainder of the 7th Cavalry Regiment arrived, led by James W. Forsyth and surrounded the encampment supported by four Hotchkiss guns.[5] On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it.[6] A scuffle over Black Coyote's rifle escalated and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry's opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their own fellow troopers. Those few Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking troopers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but U.S. cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed. By the time it was over, at least 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 wounded (4 men, 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300. Twenty-five troopers also died, and 39 were wounded (6 of the wounded would later die).[7] It is believed that many were the victims of friendly fire,[citation needed] as the shooting took place at close range in chaotic conditions. At least twenty troopers were awarded the Medal of Honor.[8]

editors's picture
editors
Submitted by editors on
@Norman: Thank you for your comment! The dates in the story are correct, we added a comma in the first sentence for clarification.

heidi robinson's picture
heidi robinson
Submitted by heidi robinson on
what is wrong with this man the land belongs or should go back to them it is a historical site and resting place

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
This is greed in its purest form....I am appauled at the way the "English" from day one have treated the Natives and I am not Indian...but I totally side with them.......give it back.....

TsaniLK's picture
TsaniLK
Submitted by TsaniLK on
I must confess my ignorance of the fact this site was on private land. In all the years I've spoken with Lakota embers, on a wide range of issues, this never came up. As a Cherokee living in the Southeast, I assumed the site was on tribal land. And now that I know it isn't, I have to ask why it's not a National Historic Site? At the very least it should be a State site, like Red Clay State Park in Tennessee, and many others. It's clear to me, based on this issue and others of late, that we need an inter-tribal fund to buy sacred and historical sites .

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