May 02, 2013

Wounded Knee sale delayed

Wounded Knee Historic Site Now for Sale on the Open Market

By Vincent SchillingThe May 1 deadline came and went without a word from the Oglala Sioux Tribe, so James Czywczynski, who owns the site of the Wounded Knee massacre, has put the land on the open market.

“They had until today; the deadline was May 1 to come up with the money. Now we have put it on the open market nationally and internationally. It is just unfortunate,” Czywczynski said.

“I gave the tribe 30 years and five months to buy this property, and it isn't as if they didn't have the money, they could have done a bond issue—I have a friend who could have done a bond issue for them,” he said.

“If they would just have taken $250,000 to copy million, they could have bought that property and owned it today. But, for some reason, they cannot see economic development and they cannot see tourism and they cannot relate. They want everything for free is what it amounts to I guess,” he said.

Though Czywczynski says he has not yet sold the property, he has had many interested parties contact him.

“We are already getting a flock of calls from people including realtors… a local one in South Dakota that has a woman who wants to buy the land and give it to the Oglala Sioux,” he said.

Czywczynski says he would welcome anyone who wants to purchase the land and then give it to the tribe. “I would be glad to have that happen. Somebody from Al Jazeera might buy it too, or some foreign country. This is worldwide now.”

"Without a word from the Oglala Sioux Tribe" directly to Czywczynski, perhaps. But I think tribal officials have been talking about this sale in the media. As the following story indicates:

Official: Tribe can't pay for Wounded Knee siteThe president of a South Dakota tribe facing a deadline on whether to buy a piece of land where 300 of their ancestors were massacred more than a century ago says his tribe does not have the money for the purchase.

The Oglala Sioux faced a Wednesday deadline to buy a 40-acre piece of the Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Owner James Czywczynski had said if the tribe did not agree to the $4.9 million asking price for that parcel and another parcel, he would open up bidding to outside investors.

Tribal president Bryan Brewer tells The Associated Press the tribe will not purchase the land, which has been appraised at less than $7,000 apiece.
Predictably, Czywczynski blinked before he received a firestorm of anger directed at him:

Sale of 'Wounded Knee' Massacre Site Extended

By Alan FarnhamCzywczynski tells ABC News he has tried for 30 years to sell the property for lesser amounts to local tribes, who have, he says, consistently ignored his overtures. Only when he offered to sell the property to any bidder—including anybody wanting to develop it—did the tribes protest.

Brandon Ecoffey, managing editor of Native Sun News, first to break the news of the pending sale, confirms Czywczynski's account: "For 30 years he's been trying to sell it to the tribes. He's sent letters to tribal leaders and to congressmen. He's never gotten anyone to bite. It's only this time, when he put a deadline on it, that the story has taken off."

Originally Czywczynski set a deadline for bids of May 1. He now tells ABC News he has decided to extend that by as much as a month, during which the acreage will remain up for grabs to the tribes, to a commercial buyer, or to a philanthropist who might want to buy the land and give it back to the tribes.

The value of the land, as appraised by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is $7,000. Is Czywczynski's price of almost $5 million an unseemly attempt to cash in on the land's bloody infamy?

Wounded Knee Sale Negotiations Fall Through

By Derek OlsonEven though the tribes failed to reach an agreement with Czywczynski, they're looking at different ways to keep the land from being developed. That includes appealing to President Obama and Senator Tim Johnson to designate the land a National Historic Landmark. However, it's more likely the sale will be held up in tribal court.

"They could at least get a decision in their favor on their homeland and let them battle the federal end of it," Charging Elk Sr. said.

If any development does move forward, tribal members vow to hold demonstrations at the site.

"I'm going to be right there with them," Brewer said.
We don't know what the outcome will be, of course. But I'm betting Czywczynski won't sell the property to a private party and won't get the $4.9 million he's asking. Not from the Oglala Sioux, anyway.

For more on Wounded Knee, see Why Doesn't Depp Buy Wounded Knee? and Wounded Knee Seller "Should Be Ashamed."

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