Native Sun News: Wounded Knee Survivors Association meets

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

Wounded Knee update
Survivors Association meets to discuss land sale
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

RAPID CITY— As the May 1 deadline for tribes to acquire the site of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre approaches both seller and tribal members are beginning to get restless.

During the past week there has been movement by both concerned community members who held a traditional Lakota style meeting on the issue, and by Jim Czywczynski owner of the two parcels of land where the Wounded Knee massacre took place in 1890.

On Tuesday March 26, members of the Wounded Knee Survivors Association met with concerned community members about the Wounded Knee issue and emerged with a solid position that as descendants they do not want the land developed.

“We had a meeting and conducted it in the traditional Lakota way. We did not have any bylaws or follow Robert’s rules of order,” said Nathan Blindman a spokesman for the Wounded Knee survivors association. “We cannot support any development or exploitation of the land. For us as Lakota we cannot sell the sacred,” said Blindman.

Mr. Blindman told Native Sun News that he was not a Wounded Knee community resident and could not speak for those who live in the village of Wounded Knee but he did make it clear that he was a descendant of those who had been massacred there in 1890, and that the group he represents opposed the sale.

“You know it is bigger than just a business transaction. The story’s that first came out were just about the sale and not about what the descendants of the survivors felt about it,” said Blindman. “We are part of the history and so is Mr. Czywczynski the difference is that he is part of contemporary history and we go back for generations,” he added.

The Wounded Knee Survivor’s association is one of many separate familial groups who all have varying opinions on the best way to address the proposed sale of the two sites owned by Jim Czywczynski. The Survivors Association did not pass any formal resolutions but said that the traditional way of doing things was to allow for those present at the meeting to take the information that was shared at the meeting back to their homes and allow for the community to digest it prior to meeting again.

“Our Lakota elders didn’t act right away they would take it back to the people and let them think about it. Then they would bring it back to the meeting and that’s how it was done a long time ago and that is how we proceeded the other day,” said Linda Hollow Horn of the Wounded Knee Survivors Association. “We live in Wounded Knee community today and are the land owners; we are the descendants of the original allottees. We feel very strongly that there should be no commercialization,” she added

Ms. Hollow Horn reiterated that the Survivors association does not speak for the entire Wounded Knee community and that the organization is only the voice of the descendants of the survivors of the tragic events that took place there Dec 29, 1890. On that day approximately 300 Lakota men, women, and children were gunned down there by members of the U.S. Calvary. Several soldiers who were involved in the massacre were awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for the atrocities they committed there. What is often left out of the historical narrative about the events of that day is that those who had been killed there that day were not the Oglala Lakota who occupy the Pine Ridge Reservation, but were in fact Mni Conjou Lakota on their way to meet up with Red Cloud’s band of people at the Pine Ridge agency.

“I would really like to respect the Mni Conjou and the people who are there, people don’t remember that they were not Oglala,” said Hollow Horn. “I don’t want to see the tribe involved in any way because all the tribe cares about is making money off of them,” she added.

The Oglala Sioux tribe has said in the past that they do not have the funds to purchase the land. The money that they have had has been allocated for economic development in each of the nine districts and this past week the OST council voted to raise the individual travel budgets of each council member by $10,000. They also awarded $1 million to each of the 9 districts.

Mr. Czywczynski told Native Sun News this past week the he has been approached by two separate entities; one from Germany, and one domestic with offers to purchase the land from him for the full asking price of $3.9 million.

“I have received some calls about the land but the two most recent seem to hold the most promise,” Czywczynski said. “I will not entertain these offers however until the May 1, deadline. I just hope that the tribe could possibly step forward and buy it or someone else with ties to the Native community before then,” he added.

He did not provide any details as to who the groups were or any details on proposed contracts.

Czywczywnski confirmed to NSN that if no one comes forth he will put the land up for auction.

“I set a deadline and I am sticking to it,” he said. “I am getting up there in age and it is time for me to finally pass the land on to someone else.”

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

(Editor’s Note: On April 27, 2007, the National Parks Service dedicated the Visitor’s Center and Museum at the site of the massacre at Washita on November 27, 1868. It is a beautiful structure that draws visitors from across America, Europe and Asia where the visitors can learn the true history of the Cheyenne men, women and children that were slaughtered there by remnants of the 7th Cavalry under the command of George Armstrong Custer. Chief Black Kettle and his wife Medicine Woman were both shot in the back and killed.)

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