Mixed Emotions Over Wounded Knee Massacre Site Being For Sale

March 30, 2013

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



Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on

Evil washichu! All he wants to do is make a profit off a murder site. SHAME on him! For those who want to develope this site. Shame on you as well!

This isn't something to be a spectacle of & for profit. This is a sacred burial ground of some of our buried ancestors who were murdered! What kind of evil spirit comes into someone to want to profit off murder? Answer me that.

This washicu is asking for the Great Spirit to bring a curse on him & his if he goes on with this wicked deed. If anything, he should sell it to our people for $1 as a token of kindness & take a hugh tax write-off for the rest.

We can take nothing with us when we walk on but the good deeds we did for others while we journeyed in this time we were here. Those who remember us have a memory of either good things or of bad things we did while we were here. How would you want to be remembered when you walked on? As a greedy old goat with an evil spirit or someone who cared for those who are less fortunate, as someone who was kind, compassionate, loving & filled with happiness & joy to those around them? THAT is a true legacy my friends!

I had rather be poor in possessions than to have wealth & a evil heart. My wealth is in those I put my time into their lives, took time to help others in need in shaping a life & getting them back on a good road. My wealth is in all the ones I loved, cared about, shared with & invested in them with taking the time to listen to them, comfort them when they have been hurt in any way. Investing in others will make you wealthy in ways you never knew was possible. Changing lives for the good. That my friends is what being wealthy is truly about: Investing in others with your time.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on

I am going to appeal to this mans sense of fairness - not greed. Mr. Czywczynski, with all due respect sir, you are now 74 years old and have enjoyed a very fortunate life. Why don't you please DONATE the land to the tribe? You would help heal one of the great wounds in history, you would know that the land would be with good stewards, and go down in history as someone who did a very good thing.

Please consider this, yes I know that we are talking about a lot of money here, but at 74 your legacy should be more important than money, you would be doing a very important thing that would be remembered forever for its greatness and generosity.

Teressa Fowler's picture
Teressa Fowler
Submitted by Teressa Fowler on

3.9 million dollars? Seriously? If you were to take away the historical significance, that would be way too high of a price for land. Even with historical significance, it is still too much. At today's prices for land, the land owner would still be able to live comfortably the rest of his days. This should be about the right thing to do. Sell to Oglala Sioux the land at today's rates with a clear mind and heart and not worry it's History or what everyone thinks.

Michele Swartz's picture
Michele Swartz
Submitted by Michele Swartz on

It should be given back to the Lakota Indians! It was originally their land!!

Emery Eason's picture
Emery Eason
Submitted by Emery Eason on

Dont sell it.dont let them ever forget what hapend there if it is sold they will wipe it from history

Sarah Johns's picture
Sarah Johns
Submitted by Sarah Johns on

THIS is INDIAN Land!! Czywczynski, Take a PILL and Give it back to the Lakota, to whom it belongs Rightfully ANYWAYS! @ yr age it shouldn't make any difference & THINK about Your God, .. what will HE think of you.. selling Stolen & Sacred Land? EH? Bet St. Pete SLAMS that ol gate shut, right on yr nose!

Michael G Burk's picture
Michael G Burk
Submitted by Michael G Burk on

The usgoverment should buy it and give it back,to the rightful owners.the SIOUX!

MattOKC's picture
Submitted by MattOKC on

As a sovereign nation, I think the Sioux should take a page from the U.S. government and simply declare the plot "blighted" (as evidenced by the owner's abandonment of the site for 40 years now), and reclaim it under eminent domain. For what it's worth, the Indian Claims Commission's own rulings establishes precedent that "gradual encroachment" is also an established justification for seizing land and compensating the owner at years-old per-acre prices. Pay this guy his $1.50 per acre and let him complain to the U.S. government about it!

Lisa Hodge's picture
Lisa Hodge
Submitted by Lisa Hodge on

This is just another lie from the white mans mouth , it makes me sick to see his greed ,when he never owned this land !!! The white eye is the intruder not the American Indian , when will this ever Stop ? I pray that he get's nothing and it goes back to your people who are the rightful owners .

Malana Ashlie's picture
Malana Ashlie
Submitted by Malana Ashlie on

To my view, selling this land is similar to selling a grave yard. This land has been made sacred by the blood of their ancestors.

Mr. Czywczynski, if you feel that at 74 years of age you no longer want the land, then give it to the Lakota people. It would be an act of integrity.

Lee Bond II 's picture
Lee Bond II
Submitted by Lee Bond II on

To profit in order to preserve is not the same as dishonoring the spirit and memory of ones ancestors. If people choose to pay admittance to pay honor to those who were slain and it educates and keeps the memory of the Native American people alive, that is a good thing. Teaching others the importance of remembering the past is essential in keeping tradition and truth as an absolute motivation. I believe the land should be given to the Sioux people because it was theirs to begin with. Signing over the deed would solidify the legalities of keeping this site sacred and cared for. As a descendant of Cherokee and Iroquois people I wish there were more information on their lives to pass on to our children.

Alice Grayson's picture
Alice Grayson
Submitted by Alice Grayson on

He should be ashamed of himself, give it to the people that should have owned before you got your greedy hands on it, and if you have anything to say to me about this my email is [email protected] will not get you in heaven and you sure as hell can't buy your way in.

Sarah Tran's picture
Sarah Tran
Submitted by Sarah Tran on

This is insane. What happens to this land when it's sold to some random person? They're going to want to develop it as a historic site to attract tourist revenue. It is the Lakota who should be in charge of that history, its interpretation, how its shared with the public, the treatment and care of graves. I am not Native but I am ashamed of this theft and demand for ransom as an American.

Don Christenson's picture
Don Christenson
Submitted by Don Christenson on

Personally, I believe the land should just be given back to The Oglalas.

IMCB's picture
Submitted by IMCB on

if Czywczynski truly would honor history and the people involved, he would give the land back free of charge to those who owned it in the first place. History has no price tags! Typical waabishkiiwe!

Ralph Thomas's picture
Ralph Thomas
Submitted by Ralph Thomas on

Get AIM to rebuild the place, they're the ones who destroyed and desecrated it.

Kevan Michaels's picture
Kevan Michaels
Submitted by Kevan Michaels on

Wish I had the money...I would buy it and donate it to the tribe.

Jim Dumas
Jim Dumas
Submitted by Jim Dumas on

James A. Czywczynski, please don't speak of the "historical" anything about this land. The reason being, historically speaking you have obtained the land illegally to begin with. The land was stolen in the first place, by our government...who in turned sold it...and you, sir, legally speaking are in possession of stolen property.

But let's not slit hairs, you are looking to make a profit of this deal. Put it high enough where the Native Americans, can't afford it, then turn around and sell it for about 2-3x's that amount. Slick...real slick.

My feelings, we are due for another Wounded Knee Occupation.

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on

I would love to see the land go back to its original owners and a memorial SHOULD b put up there ...a small fee to help maintain the memorial and help the reservation.
unfortunately i kno the wrong individuals ( GREED)shall benefit from this endeavor.

chahta ohoyo's picture
chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on

this is just shameful...the owner should return this sacred place free of charge...how can you make or even want to make $$$ from the sale of a sacred place where so many passed...

toto handala's picture
toto handala
Submitted by toto handala on


woksape wokita
by michael hall

When you first came to this land
It was full of life, energy, Spirit and all that you needed
From ocean to ocean, from the arctic to gulf it was paradise
After tens of thousands of years that you were here, it looked like it was the first day you arrived

Then the whites came and they were hungry
insatiable like a swarm of locust they swarmed and consumed till they burglarized it all
Look at them now as they go overseas to steal the rest of the world and they will never stop till they consume it all and then in finality; themselves
They are addicted to their greed, to their hunger and in 400 years look what they’ve done here

They burned down most of the forests and replaced them with sterile fields of corn and wheat, dirty cities of toxic reek, stripped the mountains, hills and laid everywhere their ugly roads, wires and pipes
Sprayed their crops with pesticides and herbicides until the poison was in every river, every stream, every gulp
They polluted the air with their foul spewing factories and disgorging black smoke plants
They wiped out all the game and made it a desert and then smiled as they sold the lots for parking and scenic routes

What of you and yours
What did your culture do here in the thousands of years of occupation?
don’t ever forget
Yours is the superior society

What did they do at Sand Creek?
What happened at Wounded Knee?
What did they do to Crazy Horse?
And why did Black Kettle dive out a hospital window?

What happens to your children now?
Where are your young men?
Who takes care of the Elders anymore?
Why are your women beaten and abused?

So many have joined their armed forces
And this is the worst cut of all
As plastic Indians tell me like little big man and standing bear
We fight for America now and it makes us proud while our children are beaten down

They tried to make you white and be like them outside and in
But do you hate the air, earth and sky like they do?
Do you only think of toys and your belly?
Is that what you want to be always angry, narcissistic and addicted to what you never sate?

Their violence and hate is the core of their purpose
Can anyone walk the streets of their cities at night without fear?
Look at their hungry and needy forgotten and destitute while their rich drive right on by oblivious
Mansions iron fenced and guarded and gated next to parks full of tents of the homeless and jobless and its against the law to feed them

Yet in the success of their raping of the land, air and water
The whites has signed their own death sentences
What gave them their power is also their poison
For they now turn on themselves
The violence of their soul is eating them alive

Look at their religion
It speaks of love and compassion
It talks of justice and ahimsa
Do they practice what they preach, have they done what they said they would?

They throw their kids, mentally ill and needy into horrible prisons
They feed their young poison processed ‘food’ just for profit
They pass forward their bills to their kids future and then say; “ kids come first”
They send their warriors to die for $, lies and markets and make all pledge allegiance to a stained bloody flag that rises atop dead upon the millions

They are psychotic suicidal maniacs hell bent on their own negative self-destructive demise
They are ravenous locusts heading like lemmings to the sea of their own annihilation and will take the world with them
They only defeated you because they had the numbers, unity in their racism, lies, guns and violence
Not by their faith, not by their culture, not by their moral or spiritual superiority

You have the far more advanced culture
You care about the land, air and water
You care about the earth and all life upon her
You care for the great spirit who gave us all everything

They foul their own nests
They are self-indulgent selfish materialistic temper throwing spoiled children
They consume beyond the need while the fat and rich steal from the lean and deprived
The rich rob the poor and they call this the american way

False charities and agencies throw you spoiled bones and second hand throw away’s
Tourists drive by and say; ‘my my isn’t that sad that they live like that’
They buy a few trinkets and then go home to their pools and mortgages and they then forget
But these days are coming to an end ghost dancers are coming home again

You are Human Beings and the Great Spirit has heard your suffering
Endure and stay true to your faith for a day is nigh
The day when redemption is at hand
The first shall be last the last first and what is wrong will be turned right for once and for all

Charles's picture
Submitted by Charles on

Why can't uncle obama buy it as he blows that much easily. He should then give it to all the Americans as a National Park with Native Americans as the overseers of it. Protecting a national battlefield is within the rules.

As the saying goes, unless we remember our history, we are bound to repeat it.

The site is more important to the Native Americans because the US did wrong. Ignoring or destroying it won't change that.

''We the People'' should foot the bill to do this. If the Native Americans hadn't helped those original ''Illegal Aliens'' the would have surely died.

Our ancestors, many of us have Native American in our heritage, did them wrong and we need to do this for them!

Children raised money to repair the Statue of Liberty, why can't a campaign like that be done to preserve this site?

We owe them so much!

Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on


Troy Wilkinson's picture
Troy Wilkinson
Submitted by Troy Wilkinson on

I am positive that if the Oglala Lakota Nation Tribal Council took the opportunity to raise the money through donations, there are more than enough people in the U.S., non-native American's, that would support the cause. If the council gets stuck on someone doing "the right thing" or some other idealistic concept then the land will be gone, barring one fantastic donor.

So, what will the council do to create an opportunity for those non-native American's that do care to step up and make a difference? I will make a donation if a fund is created for this purpose. It won't be a lot, it will be what I can afford, but I am certain I am not the only one. It's a good time to take action. And while you're trying to raise the money, I'd review your legal rights, including the possibility of taking this to court. May 1st may not be enough time, but I bet it can be delayed.

Troy Wilkinson
Submitted by Troy Wilkinson on

I am positive that if the Oglala Lakota Nation Tribal Council took the opportunity to raise the money through donations, there are more than enough people in the U.S., non-native American's, that would support the cause. If the council gets stuck on someone doing "the right thing" or some other idealistic concept then the land will be gone, barring one fantastic donor.

So, what will the council do to create an opportunity for those non-native American's that do care to step up and make a difference? I will make a donation if a fund is created for this purpose. It won't be a lot, it will be what I can afford, but I am certain I am not the only one. It's a good time to take action. And while you're trying to raise the money, I'd review your legal rights, including the possibility of taking this to court. May 1st may not be enough time, but I bet it can be delayed.

Taryn's picture
Submitted by Taryn on

Hey, when this white guy dies, how about we sell his burial site & dig him up and dump his remains in the trash & set fire to it! Would he like that?

Barbara White's picture
Barbara White
Submitted by Barbara White on

Why doesn't he just give it back to the Oglala Sioux, is he that selfish and worthless. It should be given back to them for free,because it belonged to them to begin with. How would he fel if someone wanted to buy the land his ancestors were buried? Bet he would have a fit too. I can't believe that this person who is 74 years old needs money, all he cares about is himself. It is the same old battle , white people never learn. Personally I would give it back to the nation out of respect for their ancestors.

Chaplin's picture
Submitted by Chaplin on

3.9 Million? That's crazy. Just a greedy old....I won't even say it.
Is there any place to donate for when it goes to auction?
It's a shame you have to buy back something that was stolen from you in the first place.



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