Sioux Given Until Wednesday to Buy Wounded Knee Site at 350 Times Its Value


According to the Associated Press, the Oglala Sioux have been given until Wednesday to buy a piece of the the Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark. Although the land is valued at just $14,000, the owner James Czywczynski of Rapid City, South Dakota, is demanding $4.9 million. If his demands aren't met, Czywczynski says that the land will be offered to other buyers.

The Wounded Knee Monument marks the site where 300 Native men, women and children were slaughtered by the 7th Cavalry on December 29, 1890. Selling it, at such an insanely inflated price to the ancestors of the victims is roughly the moral equivalent of offering to sell Jewish people the site of a concentration camp.

Fortunately, it seems unlikely that Czywczynski will be successful in his attempt to profit from past war crimes. There is no indication at this point that the tribes will be able to afford the ransom:
"Brings Plenty said the tribes are not in a position to pay millions of dollars for the land. Although tribal members are not opposed to development that would preserve, beautify or better educate the public about the land and its history, they are opposed to commercialization, he said.

"You don't go and dance on grandma and grandpa's grave to turn a hefty dollar sign," he said.

Tribal members and descendants have reached out to President Barack Obama to make the site a National Monument, which would better guard it against development and commercialization, Brings Plenty said."

And it is hard to imagine that any company or individual will attempt to buy and develop such an incredibly controversial piece of property. Even if another party were willing to bear the public hostility that would follow, the land appears to have little value other than its historic significance. It is not near any large population centers, nor is it on a heavily traveled road.

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The best solution would be for the US or South Dakota government to step in, declare eminent domain, give Czywczynski the $14,000 the land is valued at and declare it a protected historic site (and/or turn it back over to the Sioux.)

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