Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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American Indians in Tennessee government volunteer service
TN Archaeological Advisory Council
mandated 3 Native American representatives
  • Michael Lynch, West Tennessee (2008-12)
         member, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
  • Pat Cummins, Middle Tennessee (2004-08)
         descendant, Cherokee
  • Mark Cantrell, Middle Tennessee (2010-14)
         unknown tribal affiliation
  •   TN Historical Commission
    mandated inclusion of person/s
    of Native American ancestry

  • Brent A. Cox (2008-2012)
    444 Cades Atwood Road
    Milan, Tennessee 38358

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    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee

    Issues Affecting American Indians in Tennessee
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    Wounded Knee For Sale

    Wounded Knee For Sale

    RAPID CITY — Wounded Knee, the site of one of the most horrific and
    tragic events in all of American history, is being offered up for sale
    by its owner.

    The family of James A. Czywczynski, owners of two 40 acre sites of land
    where the slaughter of approximately 300 Lakota men, women, and children
    took place on Dec 29, 1890 has agreed to sell the land for $3.9 million

    "It is time for our family to sell the land. We would really like to
    see the land returned to the Lakota people and that is why I am giving
    them an opportunity to purchase the land before I open it up to others
    for sale," said Czywczynski. "I could offer it up for public
    auction like the Runnels did with Pe' Sla, but I would prefer that
    the Lakota people be the ones to purchase it," he added.

    The Runnels family was the owners of the Pe'Sla sacred site located
    in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The Runnels family placed the land
    up for sale asking $9 million dollars. The price reportedly reflected
    the potential development and investment opportunities there. The
    offering forced tribes to scramble to raise the $9 million dollars
    needed to purchase the site which they eventually did.

    The final $1 million needed to purchase Pe'Sla was driven by a
    social media campaign by Native American attorney, activist and founder
    of Chase Iron Eyes said that the site should be
    offered up for sale to those with the financial ability to purchase the

    "I feel that as part of asserting our own role in the telling of our
    stories and our history, we should have a proper monument and cultural
    exchange center near the spiritually heavy and tragic grave site where
    we can tell the world what happened and how we are healing from this
    scar on our hearts to make a way for ourselves," said Iron Eyes.
    "A seller would need to talk to the people with the financial means
    to make that happen," he said.

    The site does not include the mass gravesite where the members of the
    United States 7th Cavalry piled the bodies of those who were murdered
    that day. However, the parcels of land do include the immediate
    surrounding area where the massacre took place and the area surrounding
    Porcupine Butte (the site of KILI radio is not included). It does
    include the site of the original Wounded Knee Trading Post.

    The Czywczynski family has owned the property since 1968, when they
    purchased the property from the Gildersleeves who had owned the property

    During the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee by the American Indian
    Movement, Mr. Czywczynski had his home, all of his personal belongings,
    the trading post he owned (including all of the artifacts inside), and
    several vehicles destroyed. At the time he and his family were
    returning from a high school basketball game and were told by the United
    States Marshall Service that he could not return to their home that

    The losses the he incurred during the occupation have been included in
    the $3.9 million offering.

    "I was never repaid for the property losses I had as a result of
    what happened there in 1973," he said. "The price that I have
    placed on the land is an attempt for me to reclaim my losses, and an
    attempt to get fair market value for the land," he added.

    In a conversation with Native Sun News Mr. Czywczynski made it known
    that he does have several potential non-Native buyers who are ready to
    purchase the land but, would prefer that someone representative of the
    tribe be the ones to buy it.

    "I could sell the property to someone from outside the tribe but I
    really do not want to do that," said Czywczynski. "This is a
    real chance for the tribe to take advantage of an opportunity to bring
    more money and people to the reservation. It could be done in a
    respectful way for those who passed there," he added.

    In the past the tribe has been hesitant to develop the land at Wounded
    Knee as a result of some tribal members voicing the opinion that any
    attempt to make the site a tourist attraction, would be disrespectful to
    their family members who were gunned down there in 1890. However, there
    are other tribal members who believe that a museum and cultural center
    would be very beneficial to the people of the Pine Ridge Reservation. It
    has been rumored that the National Park Service would support such a
    project and South Dakota's Congressional delegation would also find
    such a project favorable. A recent survey of sites European tourists
    would most like to visit if they came to America put Wounded Knee near
    the top.

    The tribe however, has very few options in regards to bringing in new
    revenue to the reservation without tapping in to natural resources
    because of public outcry against it. The recent protests against
    potential uranium mining and the Keystone XL pipeline are indicative of
    this public sentiment.

    For many years there has been a movement by those in the economic
    development field on the reservation to further expand the tourism
    industry on the reservation. Mr. Czywczynski feels that the purchase of
    the site will help to spawn more investment opportunities for the tribe.

    "People are interested in what happened here and this could
    potentially bring in millions of dollars to the reservation," he

    Native Sun News will continue to follow this story as it develops.

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