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Native Sun News: Auction opens for sale of Wounded Knee site





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


Wounded Knee souvenirs sign. PHOTO BY/Christina Rose.

Wounded Knee auction date nears
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

RAPID CITY — The official public bidding period for the two 40 acre tracts of land at Porcupine Butte and at Wounded Knee owned by Jim Czywczysnki is now up and running until October 15, 2013. If a bid isn’t submitted that satisfies the land owner’s asking price a public auction similar to the one held for the sacred site of Pe’Sla will be held shortly thereafter.

Czywczysnki said, “This historic site was offered first to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, but it is apparent that internal politics have negated that sale to date.”

The land that has been at the center of controversy on the reservation had multiple inquiries but no deal was ever finalized. The national attention brought forth by the intense media coverage of the sale caught the attention of movie star Johnny Depp who told the Daily Mall that he was interested in purchasing the land from Czywczysnki.

However Depp never stepped forward to consult with officials from the tribe or Czywczysnki.

Earlier this summer Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer and several descendants of the Wounded Knee massacre met with Czywczysnki in the Native Sun News offices in Rapid City where the President said that he did have several investors who were waiting for the tribe to give them the go ahead to purchase the land for the asking price of $4.9 million. Brewer would add a stipulation that he would only do so if Czywczysnki would donate half of his profit back to the tribe for the construction of a cultural center at the site. Czywczysnki did not accept the offer however and chose to move forward with the sale.

There had been some confusion about the deadlines that Czywczysnki had set however he clarified this newest deadline to NSN. “The original May 1, first deadline was for the tribe itself to purchase the land. It has always been my intention for them to own it. The second deadline of September 1 was for a group associated with the tribe to step forth on their behalf and now I see that the tribe has not taken the steps necessary to purchase the land and I am now offering it up to the global market,” he said. “If the tribe wants to come forward and get it they still can but they are now competing with other interested parties and if a deal isn’t finalized it will be put up in a live auction.”

President Brewer said that the tribe and the descendants had given their offer to Czywczysnki.

“It was an opportunity for him to sell the land and walk away with a lot of money and a way for us to get the museum and cultural center built. The tribe doesn’t have the money to build something like that. It was a situation where everyone could have walked away with something,” said President Brewer. In a recent radio interview Brewer said that it would be incredibly difficult for anyone to develop the land because it is surrounded by tribal land but Czywczysnki disputes this saying that the land is accessible from the highway.

The Oglala Sioux Tribal council had passed an ordinance banning the development of any land within a certain distance from the Wounded Knee gravesite, the ordinance passed by the council that essentially siphons off the community from any economic development in response to the sale. However the land that Czywczysnki is selling is not owned by the tribe or held under trust by the federal government on their behalf. Legal experts consulted by NSN were split if the tribe could legally prevent development on deeded fee patent land.

Czywczysnki is asking any interested party to contact him at jimmyczy@aol.com or submit bids to him at Mr. James Czywczysnki, P.O. Box 7822, Rapid City, SD 57709.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at staffwriter2@nsweekly.com)

Copyright permission by Native Sun News