South Dakota tribes buy land near Wounded Knee massacre site


SIOUX FALLS, SD (AP) — Two Native American tribes in South Dakota have agreed to purchase 40 acres of land near the Wounded Knee National Historic Site on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

The Oglala Sioux Tribe will pay $255,000 and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe will pay $245,000 for the site and agree to ask the US Department of the Interior to take the land in trust on behalf of both tribes, Indian Country Today reported. Land title will be held in the name of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The agreement ends a decades-long conflict over the land that is the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre in which hundreds of Lakota men, women and children were killed by American soldiers in the purpose of suppressing the Ghost Dance, a Lakota religious movement. The victims were buried in a mass grave in a nearby Catholic cemetery.

Jeanette Czywczynski became the sole owner of the property following the death of her husband, James, in 2019. James Czywczynski purchased the property in 1968.

The Czywczynski family operated a trading post and museum there until 1973, when American Indian Movement protesters occupied the site, destroying both the post and Czywczynski’s home.

The 71-day standoff that left two tribesmen dead and a federal agent seriously injured led to heightened awareness of Native American struggles and propelled a broader protest movement.

The family moved away from the area and put the land up for sale, asking $3.9 million for the 40-acre parcel closest to the site of the massacre. The land, including an additional 40 acres of adjacent land, had been appraised at $14,000.

In 2013, movie star Johnny Depp announced a plan to buy the property and give it to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. Depp, who starred as Tonto in a remake of the movie, “The Lone Ranger,” has come under fire for trying to capitalize on the movie by making unsubstantiated claims of having Native American ancestry. Depp did not follow through with the purchase.


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