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


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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Nicole Eleck's picture
Nicole Eleck
Submitted by Nicole Eleck on
The government should purchase it and make it a historical landmark and national park.

Larry Toulou's picture
Larry Toulou
Submitted by Larry Toulou on
This is a part of History and as such should be put as such on paper by the Government so no Man can ever do anything with it!! It's HISTORY people lets not lose it ever.

Carol J Dewing's picture
Carol J Dewing
Submitted by Carol J Dewing on
It would be a travesty to allow this to happen!! Like having a Horse Slaughtering Place at the Nat'l Cemetery in Wash DC!!!

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
That would be disrespectful for such a business to be placed on this sacred land of our murdered ancestors. I hope someone DOES get this for the tribe so it can be a place of rest for our ancestors who were murdered at that time.

Gene P.'s picture
Gene P.
Submitted by Gene P. on
This is Sacred Ground. It is nourished by the blood of the Ancestors. This land needs to be protected. Why is it that our lands, Holy Places, bones of our Ancestors are not honoured by others? I continue to pray that the site will be protected. It s amazing to me how our government canspend millions of dollars on non essential things, things that means nothing to any of us and yet they can not protect this holy ground.

Doreen Harvey's picture
Doreen Harvey
Submitted by Doreen Harvey on
My heart would be so stricken with despair if there is a slaughter house next to a Historical site in Human & American History, that's just not right.

Ted's picture
Submitted by Ted on
That land is a sacred site. it should never have been privatly owned in the first place.

Heather Clemenceau's picture
Heather Clemenceau
Submitted by Heather Clemenceau on
This article is factually wrong in some respects. There are 4 EU slaughterhouses in Mexico plus the notorious municipal "puntilla" slaugherhouses. And there are 4 horse slaughterhouses in Canada.

Paula Martin's picture
Paula Martin
Submitted by Paula Martin on
I agree -this is holy ground, There should NEVER be a slaughterhouse any where near this place, It just amazes me how we can just destroy everything that this country was built on and destroy our horses and land for the almighty dollar!!!!! It makes me sick to think tha AMERICA IS BEING SOLD TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER and noene wants to put a stop to it. Disgusting !

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
What happened to the Native American reverence for the horse. Are only the horses they own sacred? What about the horses I have, you have, that live and WANT to live. What happened to our beliefs? What has happened to humanity?

Geri Ramsay's picture
Geri Ramsay
Submitted by Geri Ramsay on
I have great respect for the Sioux people and their initiative to reclaim Wounded Knee. From what Denise Mesteth, Tribal Land Office Director has said, it sounds like a horse slaughter plant is one proposal under consideration and she believes it could bring economic benefit to the tribe. I would like to encourage Ms Mesteth to consider the impact of replacing one site of massacre for another, the societal toll created by employing labour in the business of killing and the evidence of increased intrapersonal violence amongst slaughterhouse workers should this proposal receive further consideration.

Mickie Hortness's picture
Mickie Hortness
Submitted by Mickie Hortness on
Not only is horse slaughter a predatory, barbaric, inhumane industry fraught with deceit and corruption, but horse meat is not safe to eat. Horses are not raised with the intent of ending up on someone's dinner plate. Consequently, there are many drugs and products that we are able to use on horses that are not allowed to be used on animals intended for food. One of the most common drugs is the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone. Some people refer to this drug as "horse aspirin". It is very commonly used and can be found in just about any horse person's medicine cabinet. One dose of this drug administered at any time in a horse's life bans that horse from entering the food chain. This drug is a known carcinogen in humans and can cause, among other things, aplastic anemia. Especially in children. Because of the dishonesty and sleaziness involved in this industry, horses that should not be allowed to go to slaughter "slip through the cracks." Each horse has it's own unique medical history. Unlike cattle or pigs that are raised in lots where each animal would have the same history. Horses are athletes, workers, competitors, trail companions. As such, they receive pain medications, hormones, steroids, performance enhancing drugs, vaccinations, dewormers, fly sprays....the list goes on and on. None of this is regulated in horses because WE DO NOT EAT HORSES!! Now, would you be comfortable serving up a horse meat dinner to your children knowing that it is most likely tainted with any number of these drugs? Why is it acceptable to send this toxic product to other countries to feed their children? Why is this okay when any other meat product is closely regulated? It will be interesting to see what happens later this summer as far as the EU banning meat from U.S. horses. Do you want the horse meat scandal that rocked multiple countries overseas to happen in the U.S.? USDA representatives stated that our food supply is safe because we don't have the horse slaughter industry in the U.S. to pose a threat. That reassurance disappears if horse slaughter is allowed to return to this country.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on

Kate Mabry's picture
Kate Mabry
Submitted by Kate Mabry on
I am shocked at the Pine Ridge Reservation Tribal Land Officer, Denise Mesteth's comments/plans regarding the consideration of a horse slaughterhouse on the reservation. How disgusting. This would be as shameful an atrocity as the Wounded Knee Massacre. As a non-Native American, I have written the Secretary of the Dept. of the Interior to ask they intervene in this land sale so the 80 acre parcel could be preserved as a sacred monument. I have also been in contact with a Lakota journalist regarding this land sale atrocity and yes, I signed the online petition that alerted the public to the fact that there was a possibility of a horse slaughterhouse in the "making". I did not know the facts at that time and frankly, I am disgusted. You are barbaric if you proceed with this slaughterhouse and have much to learn in order to move forward as a civilized tribe in this 21st century. You are disrespecting the lives of those murdered at Wounded Knee in 1890. I have attempted to contact your tribal president via email with no response in the past few days. I am no longer surprised at the sad state of affairs on your reservation. What a tragedy!

Kate Mabry's picture
Kate Mabry
Submitted by Kate Mabry on
I am so disapointed in the fact that the Pine Ridge Reservation Tribal Land Officer is actually promoting and/or is supporting the construction of a horse slaughterhouse on sacred ground. How disgraceful and shameful and what an insult to the slaughtered innocent victims massacred at Wounded Knee in 1890. The fact that you would allow innocent animals bloodshed for money is despicable and dishonors the memory of your murdered ancestors. It is time to replace the incompetent Ms. Mesteth.

DAT's picture
Submitted by DAT on
I don't know how you would even consider horse slaughter for any reason. Horses are given drugs banned for animals for slaughter for human consmption. horse slaughter is cruel and inhumane. I would think as a native people that the horse would be revered. Greed is the only motivation for horse slaughter and I would pray that you never consider horse slaughter. build a casino

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
It would be a better idea to follow in the footsteps of Madeline Pickens and establish a horse sanctuary and promote a tourist slaughter is one of the most despicable businesses in all of North America...our horses are historic icons...horseslaughterhouses are inhumane and they flow with the unjustified blood of one of the most magnificent animals in the world... if the native indigenous people of America take part in this massacre I hope Our Higher Power will punish all of you for the rest of your lives.

friida's picture
Submitted by friida on
all this talk about slaughterhouses, it's "watch my left hand" while the right hand robs your purse. It takes the focus away from the real issue, this site is a valuable historic site, it should be protected and witnessed.

Skip Bradley's picture
Skip Bradley
Submitted by Skip Bradley on
Hey! Let's 'sell off' Gettysburg! FOR SALE to the highest bidder: 1,800 acres of rural, rolling hills located in central Virginia! Formerly a National Historic Landmark, Appomattox Courthouse is now for sale! How 'bout a big FOR SALE sign for Pearl Harbor! Imagine the money to be made by putting up condos on the shore and getting rid of the sunken ships and putting in a marina! Heck, there's a fortune alone in the scrap metal from those boats!

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
To even consider a slaughterhouse is a disgrace for all of your tribe. There is a reason it was outlawed, and maybe if you took a few minutes of your precious time to view one video of the suffering the horses endure before they're death, you would understand why, we will never allow you to do this. Shame on all the fat takers!!

Lorrie Lusk's picture
Lorrie Lusk
Submitted by Lorrie Lusk on
The fact that the tribal council would even consider slaughtering horses is what will hurt this cause....and any others that follow. It doesn't matter if it is this particular piece of land or another. Its about the slaughtering of horses. I thought the tribes were fighting to save the wild horses? I know I have re-posted on their behalf. Talk about misleading! Genocide for profit is the reason wounded knee even exists. The tribal council is supposed to represent/speak for ALL of the tribe...and for the betterment of the tribe. The submitted horse slaughter proposal does neither. Unfortunately, the mere mention of it will be enough to turn away some supporters. I ask that you remember the corrupt do not speak for the entire nation nor the entire council. The people speak for the nation and ALL of it's inhabitants....including the four legged! To the corrupt council members...make no mistake, the spotlight that is now on you will burn a hole through that proposal!

Gloria Jara's picture
Gloria Jara
Submitted by Gloria Jara on
we like to see all land returned to Tribal nations ,Libraries opened to educate the new generations of Historic events . In Westchester County we see Indian land confiscated by the Dominican sisters used by Private health Care But only few benefits it Prof fits none is used to help the poor of this community .

Cynthia 's picture
Submitted by Cynthia on
Ok hold on, the article stated at first that they don't intend to slaughter horses then it turns back to horse slaughter is revenue. OK-for those of us who actually read between the lines and have gotten used to the double-talk we can translate that the actual representation was that they will slaughter any horses not specifically from a sale. Which in the history of man I have never seen them select just a certain group and overlook others. The next part of the article is stating we are attempting to get the land, but not for that, not that one specific portion of it-we will honor that and then murder the horses we purchase from horse auctions on the other part. Cause while we show a clouded respect online for our own stock we will gladly inhumanely allow any other horses to be cut apart alive for financial gain. Did we really get the jist of the article correct now? Yeah, we thought so, it really isn't about which horses in particular you wish to cut up, its that anyone should have enough pride, heritage, and brains to not fall for the old its just money routine. This is a serious crime against animals that did nothing but stand up for you, fight their hearts out with you, ride into history with you, and stand beside no matter what happened. I am ashamed that there is a question, I raise appaloosa's and I take their heritage personal, they were nearly wiped out for being a native tribal horse-they are easy to train if you understand who they are before you get started-they almost were wiped off the planet because they protected the tribal owners, they stood the test of time and they more than earned the right for all who come after them to not be slaughtered again. I also raise paints whose tribal history is obvious in all the pictorals the old west has kept alive in museums. We raised some pinto ponies, and I would give my right arm to raise Lakota ponies-they are so highly intelligent. Just don't speak, if its in defense of the death of the least of these who gave so much for you when NO one else would. Don't utter a word....unless its against slaughter. I have native American in me-so please don't bring shame to the whole of us for the part who can't understand the horses.

Sharon Gaught's picture
Sharon Gaught
Submitted by Sharon Gaught on
This slaughter house that is trying to st up there is the same one that was shot down in Missouri. The people spoke and said no ... to the horrific slaughter of horses for foreign consumption. That is just inhuman, and for the tribe to be considering the use of such , when that animal was what made the tribes along with the buffalo is sacrilege. Let the tribe have the land , their warriors and people are buried there . It should be theirs by right .

CJB's picture
Submitted by CJB on
Lets take this thing to Arlington national graveyard and right in the middle build a horse slaughter house. Forgive me all horses for all you give and for how little you are thought of. Now white America bow down to the almighty dollar and give praise.

Barbara Spence 's picture
Barbara Spence
Submitted by Barbara Spence on
No but hell no

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
Protect the land in its original nature without human interference!

Grandmother Hummingbird's picture
Grandmother Hum...
Submitted by Grandmother Hum... on
Please do not allow the one animal that made life easier for us to be slaughtered for food...they have been our companions for years..Thank You