HuffPost Live host Ricky Camilleri was joined by four Native voices to talk about the sale of the land where the Wounded Knee Massacre took place.
While all of the show’s guests felt the $3.9 million price tag was too high, one brought up a different point—that the tribe should set the price.
Edouardo Zendejas, a Native American studies professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said the tribe should exercise its sovereignty and take the land using eminent domain. “The only issue would be what is just compensation, that is something for appraisers to decide,” Zendejas, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, added. “They certainly have the right and the power to exercise their sovereignty.”
This came up over a lengthy discussion about the $3.9 million the landowner, James A. Czywczynski, is asking for the 40-acre plot. A price Mason Big Crow, the Oglala Sioux Tribe treasurer, says the tribe can’t afford.
The group spent a good portion of the 20-minute discussion talking about how the tribe is $60 million in debt and how it got that way.
“It’s not something that happened overnight,” Big Crow said. He went on to explain how the tribe has borrowed money over the years to build needed facilities like nursing homes and infrastructure and noted that the federal government doesn’t always come through with the full amount they are promised.
Camilleri asked if the tribe could borrow money to buy this land. “The tribal council will have to decide if that’s important enough,” Big Crow said. “I think it’s important, but I don’t think it’s $3.9 million important.”
The other large part of the discussion focused on the difference of opinion on what to do with the land, some believe it should be developed to bring money to the area.
Tim Giago, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe and editor at Native Sun News, thinks the economic development is needed in the area.
“My newspapers have been covering Pine Ridge for over 30 years… often done editorials encouraging the tribe to step in and purchase the land and develop it and get it to a point where it draws tourism, where it creates jobs—we have an almost 80 percent unemployment [rate] on the reservation and we need to do something that’s going to bring jobs and industry to the reservations,” he said during the program. “A museum at Wounded Knee would be a gigantic step in that direction.”
Watch the entire segment on HuffPost Live.