Now comes James Czywczynski, with his intention to sell two forty acre parcels on the Pine Ridge Reservation. One parcel includes the site of the 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee; the second parcel, an area near Porcupine Butte that is also considered sacred by the Oglala Sioux, possibly includes the (unmarked) grave of Crazy Horse.
Mr. Czywczynski recalls the history of ownership in a recent interview:
“The land was put up for sale in the 1930s as an allotment so the Native people could sell their land. The Oglala Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation was sold off and there are many non-Indian ranchers, farmers, businessmen, cowboys and casinos that are owned and within the confines of that reservation. Our property was bought in the 1930s by Woodrow Wilson who signed the deed. Clive Gildersleeve’s father bought the land and store in 1935, which included 40 acres of the national historical site of Wounded Knee. In 1968, I bought the property from the Gildersleeve’s which included the Trading Post Museum, a home, four cabins and museum artifacts. The 40 acres we bought included the ravine and the area where the massacre took place in 1890.”
Having not succeeded in negotiating a sale with the Oglala by his deadline of May 1, Mr. Czywczynski placed the properties on public offer, for 4.9 million dollars:
“They had until today; the deadline was May 1 to come up with the money. Now we have put it on the open market nationally and internationally. It is just unfortunate. (…) I gave the tribe 30 years and five months to buy this property, and it isn’t as if they didn’t have the money, they could have done a bond issue—I have a friend who could have done a bond issue for them.”
“If they would just have taken $250,000 to copy million, they could have bought that property and owned it today. But, for some reason, they cannot see economic development and they cannot see tourism and they cannot relate. They want everything for free is what it amounts to I guess.”
“We are already getting a flock of calls from people including realtors… a local one in South Dakota that has a woman who wants to buy the land and give it to the Oglala Sioux. I would be glad to have that happen. Somebody from Al Jazeera might buy it too, or some foreign country. This is worldwide now. (…) It isn’t as though I didn’t give them enough time, the prior president served for six terms—I wrote him letters for 12 years and told him they should buy this. The price was even less than it is today.”
With a somewhat version of the story, we find Charles Trimble reporting contact with members of the Gildersleeve family:
We sense that the spirit of the shapeshifter Iktomi is in play, at play — pulling the strings that make the puppets twist and shout.