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Johnny Depp Thinking of Buying Wounded Knee; Better than Eminent Domain?

Part Cherokee (or Creek?) and honorary Comanche Johnny Depp may come to the rescue of his Lakota kemosabes on Pine Ridge to save Wounded Knee. Says the UK Daily Mail (via Indian County Today):

Such is Depp’s commitment to the Native American cause, he is planning to spend millions of his own money to return land, Wounded Knee, in South Dakota, to their ownership.

The site, the scene of an 1890 massacre, is up for sale for $3.9 million. Local Native Americans say they cannot afford to buy it. Depp is outraged.

‘It’s very sacred ground and many atrocities were committed against the Sioux there. And in the 1970s there was a stand-off between the Feds (Federal government) and the people who should own that land. This historical land is so important to the Sioux culture and all I want to do is buy it and give it back. Why doesn’t the government do that?’’

Is he really prepared to pay for the land?

‘I am doing my best to make that happen. It’s land they were pushed on to and then they were massacred there. It really saddens me’ [Martyn Palmer, "'The last few years have been a bit bumpy': Johnny Depp on life after Vanessa Paradis - and cheating death on his new movie," UK Daily Mail, 2013.07.06].

The 40-acre site is officially appraised at $7,000. Any additional value to white owner James Czywczynski accrues from a historic act of barbarism. Then again, the American Indian Movement scored some payback in 1973 when it destroyed Czywczynski's home and the trading post he ran during their armed occupation of Wounded Knee. Who owes whom what?

I hate to see any member of the conquering race profit further from Lakota blood, even if that profit is taken from another (87.5%) member of the conquering race. Perhaps a better outcome would be for taxpayers to give Czywczynski the assessed value of his land, plus compensation for his verifiable losses during the 1973 violence, then take the land by eminent domain for historic preservation. South Dakota conservatives don't mind using letting a private Canadian corporation use eminent domain against South Dakota landowners to export profits, so they shouldn't get bent out of shape over using eminent domain for the benefit of Native South Dakotans. Congress has authorized the use of eminent domain for historic preservation of battlefields and cemeteries; that authority should include preserving the site of one of the American military's great crimes.


  1. Rorschach 2013.07.11

    I'm sure Mr. Czywczynski's insurance company paid him for the loss of his store and his house. If he was operating a business without insurance he's an idiot. If he didn't have homeowner's insurance he's an idiot.

  2. MC 2013.07.11

    Cory, why stop at Wounded Knee?

    Unless I'm mistaken the supreme court upheld the Fort Laramie treaty of 1868. Maybe we should honor it now, every square inch.

  3. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.07.11

    Does Pinky Plume still own and operate the store in Wounded Knee? Someone, everyone ought to ask her opinion on the best way to deal with this. I got to assist her for several days just prior to Xmas, 1996. Pinky, daughter of esteemed tribal elder Shirley Plume, has only one focus, helping the people around her. She is simply incredible. She may not be well-known since she was never interested in attention or power.

    Seriously, if Pinky Plume is still available, seek out her wisdom on this matter.

  4. Bill Dithmer 2013.07.11

    MC there is one very big problem with what you are saying. Are you willing to roll back every single law that has been enacted in relation to the tribe sense 1868 or just certain ones? I don't think there are any people that want to go back to the way it was then and start over.

    Voting rights
    Able to leave the reservation whenever they want to
    Land allotments
    Drinking booze
    Treated like everyone else that lives here in this country
    Having the full protection of the US Constitution, at that time it didn't

    The treaty said some pretty specific things back then. Do you really think people would want to ever live that way again? Remember the treaty was more then just about land there were other issues as well.

    The Blindman

  5. interested party 2013.07.11

    Stan Adelstein leering from the top of this page gives me the willyboogers. Why not move his mug to Bernie's place: more neutral ground over there, innit?

  6. MC 2013.07.11

    Bill, it not so much a matter of what I want. The treaty was signed and passed. We, as in the United States, volitated it. The Sioux Tribe took us to court and won.

    It is what the Sioux Tribes wants, why else would they take us to court.

    I would be open to the idea of scraping the treaty, and sitting down and hammering a new one. However I don't think that will happen.

  7. Douglas Wiken 2013.07.12

    The tribal hypocrisy is amusing. They continue to beat the it's a treaty drums when they can milk that noise. But, when the make an agreement (something much like a treaty) to obtain tribal land outside tribe boundaries on the condition they NOT build a casino on that land and then a few years start yammering to build a casino on that same land, we get a good view of their actual perspective on contracts and thus also treaties.

  8. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.07.12

    Doug, you don't think that only tribes try to evade or amend contracts, often using public pressure to do so. Do you?

    And do you think every single tribe in the USA does so? Every. Single. One?

  9. Douglas Wiken 2013.07.12

    Look for specifics in SD papers. We were not discussing every tribe, but Depp and Pine Ridge. The idea of moving a casino from 15 miles north of the interstate to on the interstate at Oacoma involves broken tribal promises.

    There is an old legal adage something like, " He who seeks equity must have clean hands."

    SD never needed casinos and we don't need any more of them our expanision of existing no matter who benefits. They suck money out of legitimate economy and produce no useful product.

  10. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.07.12

    Nope Doug, I don't like casinos anywhere - Deadwood, tribal, video lottery. I asked the questions I did because it seems to me that regardless what Indian entity is being discussed, your responses don't vary. You are highly critical. To be fair, it seems to me that you are nearly universally critical of human beings in places of power, however limited.

    I think it's pretty unlikely that you'll find anyone with perfectly clean hands. That's humans for ya. So are there levels of imperfection that still allow an individual or group to complain about a perceived injustice?

    I'm serious about this question. I think your expectation is unreasonable.

  11. Douglas Wiken 2013.07.13

    I have no expectation of either good nor bad, change nor improvement. What we can expect is distortion and self-serving rhetoric from all seeking special favors.

  12. Deb Geelsdottir 2013.07.13

    Okay. You answered my question. Thanks.

Comments are closed.