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Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe in Wounded Knee talks





The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Wounded Knee sold?
Group and attorney meet with Czywczysnki
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

RAPID CITY—Wounded Knee will end up in the hands of the Oglala Lakota people. The question that remains however is “will it be an individual tribal member or the tribal government?”

According to sources with access to the negotiations and a high ranking official in the Oglala Sioux Tribe, talks are underway for the purchase of the 40 acre tract of land at the national historic site of Wounded Knee and the other 40 acre lot at Porcupine Butte. The deal could go through as early as the end of this week.

The two sites that were put up for sale by land owner Jim Czywczysnki for a total of $4.9 million are located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota. The Wounded Knee site is the place where the United States government massacred approximately 300 Hunkpapa and Mnicoujou Lakota in 1890, and is also where the 1973 takeover by the American Indian Movement occurred.

According to sources within the tribal government the Oglala Sioux Tribe is currently working with a financial backer who represents a large national organization whose sole purpose is the preservation of national historic sites. The organization would purchase the land on behalf of the tribe and then donate it to them. The organization is currently collecting the necessary funds needed to purchase the land from Czywczysnki. The official also told Native Sun News that the tribe has been approached by several philanthropic groups interested in purchasing the lands on behalf of the tribe. However according to the source OST President Bryan Brewer has been skeptical of several of the groups and has been extremely diligent in assuring that the tribe would not be taken advantage of.

When contacted by NSN, Czywczysnki said that he has not spoken with anyone representing the Oglala Sioux Tribal government.

“The tribe has not responded to anything that I have sent them. It has always been my hope that the tribe would end up with the land. The group who I am meeting with this week also hopes that the land will end up in the right hands rather it be a tribal member or the Tribe as a government,” said Czywczysnki.

The group that Czywczysnki is set to meet with this week is represented by a local realtor and an attorney from California. The attorney who flew to South Dakota this week is the spokesperson for anonymous donors that refuse to publicly take credit for the purchase of the land if it goes through. According to Czywczysnki and emails acquired by NSN the attorney is working with a mediator who is an Oglala Sioux tribal member charged with assuring that the land does become the property of owners who are connected to the tribe in some capacity.

The tribal official who spoke with NSN on the condition of anonymity said that the tribal government’s financiers would be meeting with the tribe in the coming days.

“I am hopeful that the deal goes through this week and the land can be returned to the tribe. If not this group then hopefully the tribe will approach me with an offer from their group. I have put two other potential buyers on hold while I work with this group who wants the tribe or a tribal member to have it,” said Czywczysnki. “If not then I am going to go ahead and move forward with the groups who are not connected to anyone in the tribe. I don’t want to do that but there are offers and I have no choice but to entertain them.”

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)

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