Actor Johnny Depp, who plays Tonto in the recently released movie “The Lone Ranger,” plans to buy land at the site of the Wounded Knee massacre in South Dakota and give it back to the Oglala Sioux Tribe, a tribal official said Wednesday.
“He would like to make that offer if we’re willing,” President Bryan Brewer said. “This is a great thing that is happening.”
Brewer said he got a call Wednesday from a representative for Depp, who is in England, telling him the actor wanted to make an offer on a 40-acre piece of land near the Wounded Knee burial ground on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Land owner James Czywczynski, 76, has said he wants $3.9 million for that parcel where soldiers from the Seventh Cavalry killed 300 Lakota men, women and children in 1890, and an additional $1 million for a 40-acre parcel in Porcupine Butte. Czywczynski has said he will only sell the parcels as a package deal.
Brewer said the tribe’s leaders must decide whether they want Depp to make the offer, considering it means paying a vastly inflated price for the land. Shannon County has appraised the parcels at a combined value of $14,000. Czywczynski’s $4.9 million price tag has angered many in the Native American community who view it as bordering on extortion.
“We just hate to see that guy get rich off us,” Brewer said.
We feel you on that…
Garfield Steele, a council representative for the Wounded Knee district, said Thursday that he was speechless after hearing of Depp’s offer.
“You see these celebrities with a lot of money and a lot of times you hear about the useless spending they do, this is something different, something that’s unbelievable,” he said.
Asked whether Steele was concerned that purchasing the land might raise the price on other privately-owned sites that are sacred to natives, Steele said he was unfazed.
He said Czywczynski’s inflated price was likely inspired by the private sale of Pe’ Sla, a sacred site in the west central Black Hills, to the Lakota for $9 million in 2012. Pe’ Sla is a crucial site in Lakota mythology.
“He knew he puts any price tag on that and we would come crawling,” he said.
Way to go Johnny, now hopefully some other ballin’ a$$ celebs will step up and help get these folks their land back instead of buying new Bugattis.
Image via Disney