Editorial| Wounded Knee for sale: but to whom?

North Wind Staff

November 1 marked the beginning of Native American Heritage month, so it was no surprise  when news articles began circulating that actor Johnny Depp was in talks to purchase the site of the Battle of Wounded Knee.re-NWLogoSocialMedia

With this in hand, we had all the makings of a positive story, until we started doing our research. As it turns out, the story isn’t completely authentic, making perennial appearances online since 2013.

The property in question is privately owned, but bordered on all sides by the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The owner, James Czywczynski, came into posession of the land in 1968 through a federal allotment program designed to divide reservations into smaller parcels.

Czywczynski is not a Native American, but claims he has been trying to sell the land back to the reservation for 30 years.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why they haven’t cut him a check.

Wounded Knee is considered sacred land to the Lakota, not to mention the massacre of 200 natives that occurred there in 1890. According to an article by ABCNews, the tribe appraised the land for a meager $7,000 in 2013, but the current asking price is a steep $3.4 million. To ask the Lakota to fork that amount of money over is an insult.

We believe it’s time for Depp to make up his mind—if he’s actually interested, that is. Some articles have said he visited the reservation in 2013, but tribal leaders deny that ever happened. Coincidentally, the rumors started right around the time Depp’s movie, “The Lone Ranger,” was released.

We can’t do anything to change  the past, but it’s never too late to make things right—and it shouldn’t take a celebrity to do it. The time is now to give—not sell—the land back.