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Lakota Activists: Buy Wounded Knee, Face Protests

Society & Culture  (tags: activists, corruption, environment, ethics, government, land, Lakota, Native American, rights, Wounded Knee )

- 1880 days ago -
The potential sale of one of the most historically notorious sites in South Dakota history could come with the state's biggest caveat: buy Wounded Knee and plan to build there, and face the wrath of protesters. That message is being sent by Native ....

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RosemaryRannes H (650)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 12:18 pm

Land adjacent to the site of the 1898 Wounded Knee Massacre is currently for sale by landowner James Czywczynski. Czywczynski says he is not concerned about the possibility of protests if the land is developed.

2013-04-28T05:00:00Z Lakota activists: Buy Wounded Knee, face protestsDaniel Simmons-Ritchie Journal staff Rapid City Journal
7 hours ago • Daniel Simmons-Ritchie Journal staff(3) CommentsThe potential sale of one of the most historically notorious sites in South Dakota history could come with the state's biggest caveat: buy Wounded Knee and plan to build there, and face the wrath of protesters.

That message is being sent by Native American activists as a Rapid City man prepares to sell a 40-acre parcel at the site of the Wounded Knee massacre. The property, located in the heart of the Pine Ridge Reservation, is in the vicinity of where 300 Native Americans were killed by the U.S. military on Dec. 29, 1890.

Tensions have been simmering in Indian Country ever since the landowner, James Czywczynski, 75, announced his plan to sell the land two months ago. Czywczynski offered to sell the parcel, and another in Porcupine Butte, to the Oglala Lakota Nation for $4.9 million dollars. If they didn't buy before May 1, he warned, he would sell to the highest private bidder.

Tribal officials have consistently scorned the price and deadline, which they view as bordering on extortion. The properties have a combined value of about $14,000, according to an appraisal by Shannon County.

Now, with the May 1 deadline only days away and no tribal deal in sight, some Lakota are offering their own warning to Czywczynski:

"This is our backyard; this is our homeland," said Garfield Steele, a tribal representative. "This has historical value for our people, not to any non-Indian. We will fight to keep it, as is, by all means."

Steele said that opposition could include protests to stop the land from being converted into a tourist attraction. Many Lakota oppose commercial development because they see it as an exploitation of a tragedy.

Protests promised

The land is currently desolate prairie, but it formerly hosted a trading post and several houses owned by Czywczynski before they were burned down during a protest by Native Americans in 1973.

Don Cuny, 61, a member of the American Indian Movement and a protester in 1973, pledged to stage a sit-in if the land was developed. "I'm totally against it," he said. "And I know I'm not the only one."

Czywczynski's offer, and the controversy surrounding it, has attracted national and international attention. Over the past month, he has conducted interviews with the New York Times, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and the Australian Broadcasting Company.

Asked on Friday whether he was concerned about protests, Czywczynski was nonchalant. "Let them protest," he said Friday. "I don't care."

Czywczynski reiterated that he believed the tribe had ample money to meet his $4.9 million list price.

He said that the price was fair given the potential for the tribe to convert it into a commercial venture. Before his trading post was burned down in 1973, he said, it was a profitable endeavor that attracted busloads of tourists each week.

"They just wanted to see Indian land, the mass grave, they wanted to buy arts and crafts," he said. "A lot of people are just interested in Indians and Indian culture."

Czywczynski said he has been contacted by five parties who want to purchase his parcel: Two California investment groups, an overseas investor, an American who offered $1 million in cash, and a group in Wall that wants to raise grant money to buy the land and gift it to the Lakota.

Czywczynski said he told each party that he won't consider any offers until after May 1. He also said he would only sell the Wounded Knee parcel and the other parcel, located at Porcupine Butte, as a package deal and for no less than $4.9 million.

Legal action possible?

Beyond protests, some Lakota hope to stop the sale by different means. Nathan Blindman, a descendant of one of the survivors of the 1890 massacre, wants to take it to the courts.

Blindman said the Bureau of Indian Affairs made a mistake when it approved the original sale of land from its Lakota owners to a non-native couple in 1930. That couple, the Gildersleeve family, sold the property to Czywczynski in 1968.

The agency is required to approve sales of Indian land to private buyers. Blindman, pointing to documents from the 1930 sale, said that the agency neglected to consider the property's historical value and didn't consult tribal leaders.

"It's always been suspicious how part of the Wounded Knee Massacre site fell into the lands of non-Indians," he said. "That's always been a question."

He said the federal government should step in to return the land to the Lakota.

But Frank Pommersheim, a law professor at the University of South Dakota, said the courts are unlikely to be convinced by that argument.

Pommersheim said if the Bureau of Indian Affairs incorrectly appraised the value of the property in 1930, it was likely that too much time had passed to challenge it under the statute of limitations.

"Even assuming that to be true, it's difficult to know what could be done in the year 2013," he said.

Cris Stainbrook, president of the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, based in Minnesota, also believes that Blindman's legal challenge would be a long shot.

However, he said he believes the commercial potential of the property has been heavily over-hyped. He doubts that Czywczynski will ever get the $4.9 million he is seeking.

"He's done everything he can to pitch the thing and keep the media hype up," he said. "Don't get me wrong, Wounded Knee is an important site for Lakota people, at the same time, lets get real, it's not as though this is a developable property in any significant way."

Fears were high that a buyer would convert the land into a casino or hotel. But Stainbrook said, given the site's proximity to a mass burial, he just couldn't see it.

"If someone's going to make a Disneyland type of attraction, what's the theme going to be?" he said. "I'm trying to envision who would be so crass to make much of a tourist attraction."

. (0)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 12:41 pm
Thank you.

Michael M (60)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 12:51 pm
This is the second time in a couple years where greedy old white folks are requiring the Lakota to buy the land of which they are a part, which contains the life of past, future, of all things.

The attempt of the US govt and christian missionaries to make the free peoples of this land submit all they were to an evil way of living, is the root of this.
The attempt to cut up pieces of the land which family and tribe were forced to limit themselves to, in order that the Indian spend their lives in bondage to economic system was successful on many reservations, and it has led to often most of reservations being owned by whites.

Once the Lakota looked upon the whites like this:
Mnewasca = good water. those who brought alliance, good things . This was a lifetime before the famous resistors whose names you know of in history.
As the insatiableness of the whites became more profoundly apparent, the quick term for them became Washichu - the takers of all the fat, the health of the land, of all beings.

When again will there be people who bring good water, and share?

This is the moon when Sungmanitu Tanka brings forth her children in the hidden Earth. Their birth is hidden and protected, nurtured by this Earth. Everything is being taken from the Wolf, even life, just as the way of thinking that sent Pte, the Buffalo, and the others away under this Earth. The Lakota remain, homeless in a land poisoned by the Takers.

Must they return tothe Earth because of the insatiable greed?

I say these things because there are some tales told about Sungmanitu tanka taking in the Lakota Woman in the Winter, helping her to survive and return to her people. I ask you all to stand with what your heart asks. No longer speak to me of humanity, for that goes the way of the Takers now.
Do the things you alone recognize as good, and separate yourself from seeking gain.

These are your sisters, your brothers on Earth. Do what you will for them, Their Mother is yours, and she aches for this pain. Who is being born in your heart, in the Earth, right now?

RosemaryRannes H (650)
Sunday April 28, 2013, 4:50 pm
Michael your comment speaks the Truth and as each one listens to their own heart as you suggest when you say: "Do the things you alone recognize as good, and separate yourself from seeking gain" then and only then will we stand with our sisters,our brothers,our Relations on our Mother Earth.
I wept when I read your words because I know they flow from a place so deep within you.
I send prayers rising for ALL.


LaurenBackSoon Kozen (173)
Monday April 29, 2013, 12:41 am
Noted & Shared. Thanks Rosemary.

James Merit (144)
Monday April 29, 2013, 12:49 am
Micheal M.'s comment says it all and touched my heart, thank you and thank you Rosemary for post.

Ellen m (215)
Monday April 29, 2013, 2:08 am
Michael, your cimment was eloquent, and cut to the chase with both truth and compassion.~ thank you ♥

Kathleen G (118)
Monday April 29, 2013, 5:47 am
Thank you Rosemary for sharing this with us.Michael your words say it all,as they were spoken from your heart of hearts.What is still being done to Native Americans is unjust and despicable.The invader run government is still trying to rid the land of its Native People and the "owners" of this sacred land are full of greed in their black hearts,somehow this sale for development must be stopped.

. (0)
Monday April 29, 2013, 6:39 am
Noted and posted on my Twitter page.

Christeen A (371)
Monday April 29, 2013, 12:30 pm
I'm standing in unison with them. Thank you.

Florence Eaise (132)
Monday April 29, 2013, 1:31 pm
Very well said Michael very well said indeed~ Havent Native Americans been raped enough? This is extortion plain and simply and its wrong great post Rosemary im so happy to see you posting you & the family are in my prayers ;)

Joanne D (38)
Monday April 29, 2013, 2:28 pm
I note the seller says he isn't concerned about protests. Well, of course HE'S not, he's getting out. It's the buyer, if anyone other than the Lakota, who would be concerned.

Birgit W (160)
Monday April 29, 2013, 2:29 pm

John B (185)
Monday April 29, 2013, 3:47 pm
Thanks Rosemary for the great post and link to the video.Mr. Czywczynski had better rethink his decision to sell this "memorial" and soon, he has no idea what a can of worms he is about to open. Read and noted.

Theodore Shayne (56)
Monday April 29, 2013, 3:55 pm

Sheryl G (360)
Monday April 29, 2013, 6:15 pm
Czywczynski offered to sell the parcel, and another in Porcupine Butte, to the Oglala Lakota Nation for $4.9 million dollars.

The properties have a combined value of about $14,000, according to an appraisal by Shannon County.

Gee, how generous of him.....Not.

Another example of Greed. This system of explotation and Profit is reflected by this man that keeps on going.

The offspring of the criminals who brought Small Pox laden blankets to Native Americans to kill them off to steal their land are still up to their evil deeds of their predecessors.

Helen Porter (39)
Monday April 29, 2013, 6:57 pm

Alan Lambert (91)
Monday April 29, 2013, 8:52 pm
One of the rich tribes (like the Mohegan Sun guys) aught to buy it and give it back to the Lakota

Sue Clayton (8)
Monday April 29, 2013, 11:19 pm
I don't understand how this land could have been sold by anyone in the first place. It's in the middle of a Native Reservation so wouldn't that be an illegal sale? The Lakota have been taken advantage of ever since colonization right up till today and it's about time they were shown some respect. The bodies of over 300 men, women and children lie at Wounded Knee and I'm damn sure that NO WHITE MAN would permit his family's burial site to be sold. This story needs to be all over the news, all over the country! Noted and shared.

reft h (66)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 12:03 am
wow, thanks for letting us know

robert zank (0)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 2:00 am
who knows how the spirits will react.
the place is needs healing and not more karma build up. if the guy values his soul he should take the 14,000 and get out of there.

Daniel Partlow (179)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 7:50 am
The Indian nation has been screwed all along and continues to be. It is so unfair. I don't know how Czywczynski can sleep at night. What a greedy SOB. It would be nice if a private citizen could bid on the land on behalf of the Oglala Lakota Nation. I'm poor, but I'd be willing to donate a small amount. With Care2's 22 million, we could do this!

Inge B (202)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 10:47 am

Yvonne White (229)
Tuesday April 30, 2013, 1:33 pm
Why isn't it Already a National Park or Historical Monument (like Gettysburg)????? The Native Graves & Repatriation Act SHOULD prevent any digging there anyway...They should contact the Archaeological Conservancy, they buy up endangered sites for future archaeological study, but they wouldn't pay over $4 million for parcels appraised at $14 thousand!

Nancy Black (308)
Thursday May 2, 2013, 9:59 pm
Noted, tweeted, shared, tweeted and shared. One more time when the white man cheats the Indian.

Iwona Krzeminska (73)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 4:00 pm
Shared this sad and chocante story. Thank you Rosemary for posting and Michael for comment - your voice is my voice too.

RosemaryRannes H (650)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 11:37 pm
Thank you everyone for noting and offering your comments.

Please note and more importantly sign the petition linked to this news post by Leuth

Nation Needs to Not Sell Wounded Knee; Make National Monument Instead. PLEASE SIGN!!

Thank you all so much for caring2share.


RosemaryRannes H (650)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 12:01 am
Also please sign this petition No Medals for Massacre -- Justice for Wounded Knee Killings of Native Americans!

As representatives of the Minneconjou (and now Oglala), and citizens around the world, we humbly request your support as Commander-in-Chief to assist in the revocation of at least eighteen Medals of Honor, awarded to soldiers who participated in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890, where between 165 and 300 unarmed native men, women and children were slaughtered. Honoring the authors of this massacre is a smear upon the honor of all, and diminishes the value of the Medal award to others for their legitimate valor and sacrifice. We also need a proper memorial at Wounded Knee, one that contains the correct names of the victims (such as Chief Spotted Elk) and leaves out no one. The House and Senate have already agreed to support such a memorial in… prior resolutions, but twenty-three years later, even while Wounded Knee is a National Historic Landmark, nothing has been done.


Nancy C (806)
Thursday June 6, 2013, 1:49 am
James Czywczynski: Sell Wounded Knee site back to Oglala Sioux Tribe for fair market value
Wounded Knee - Counter Offer To Mr. Czywczynski
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