The sale of the land at Wounded Knee and why everyone took the bait

So the 1st of May deadline for the proposed land sale at Wounded Knee came and went and the supposed number of bidders interested in the land don’t seem to have jumped to do a deal. No surprise to me.

Ever since the owner of 40 acres of land on the sacred land at Wounded Knee was announced at the beginning of the year with a 3.9 million dollar price tag (offered exclusively to the tribe till May 1st) I was sure this was just an opportunity of land owner James Czywczynski to steal the headlines away from the 40th Anniversary commemorations of the Wounded Knee occupation that was just weeks away. The store, gas station and “museum” that was on his land that he had invested in were destroyed during the occupation and so he clearly would want his grievance highlighted during this anniversary.

The fact that the market value of the land in less than $10,000 makes it clear that the price tag was an obscene attempt to fleece the tribe. After the fundraising to buy Bear Butte the year before was successful he perhaps saw a way of manipulating sentiment into a similar action here.

What got me was how much credibility he was being given (even in the New York Times) and also that the response was not as aggressive as it should have been to shut this down.

As the deadline loomed I started emailing many people in the tribal administration on Pine Ridge from the President and Vice President to others in political and influential life there that they should go on the offensive with an eminent domain action to see if that could get traction but also and perhaps more decisively with a proclamation that no business licenses would be issued to anyone for that land, thus rendering the land valueless and making any purchase, pointless.

Interestingly a few days later reports start appearing in the media that both actions were being pursued. I have no idea if this is as a response to my correspondence or just coincidence but what is most important is that the tribe started enforcing its sovereignty more around the issue.

I think at the end of the day it is interesting to see how people got swept up so much in the rumor (a horse slaughterhouse being put there was one) and not just looking at the bare facts and motivations. The land under his ownership has laid there unmolested for 40 years. To think it would have millions of dollars of value in the open market when unused by him through this time would be preposterous. I am sure this will probably just slip away as a little footnote of a man trying to grab the headlines and manipulate truly sacred land.

See my most recent post regarding Johnny Depp’s interest in purchasing the land here

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