Earlier this month, James Czywczynski, the owner of the Wounded Knee site told the Oglala Sioux Tribe they had until Labor Day, September 2 to purchase the land. As the date approaches, tribal President Bryan Brewer says he isn’t worried about the deadline.
In an interview on the Native Trailblazers online radio program, Brewer said Czywczynski’s claims are nothing new. “He has been threatening to sell this land for years. This isn’t the first time.”
He added that even if Czywczynski sold Wounded Knee to an outsider, it would be unusable. “One of the problems is that our tribal lands completely surround his 34 acres. There is no way anyone could ever get to this land to do any type of development or anything else… the tribe would not allow it.
“He wants to sell it, and it has only been valued at about $8,000,” Brewer said. “The owner has valued this land at $6 million, so I say to him, ‘Then why aren’t you paying taxes on land that is valued at $6 million?’ I and some of the descendants of Wounded Knee met with him and I told him, ‘No one will ever buy this.’”
Czywczynski says he has given the tribe every opportunity to buy the land, and believes the tribe has enough money to buy the site. “They received $31 million from the Cobell settlement and they didn’t buy it then,” he said.
Brewer is still hopeful that someone will act on behalf of the tribe. “Some people have said they want to buy this land and return it to the tribe–we may get the land back, but he will be the only one that benefits financially from the sale. I told him that we would gladly offer to support and bless the sale if he could find a place in his heart to give half the money to the descendants of Wounded Knee so that we could fix up the area and our own people could learn about what really happened there. Our history books don’t tell the story.
“I just don't understand someone making this much money off this land and putting it into their pocket and walking away.”
Czywczynski is still hopeful he will sell Wounded Knee for the full asking price. “I hope to, one way or another we are going to get this done.”