Questions remain about Johnny Depp's offer to purchase Wounded Knee

2013-08-05T07:00:00Z 2013-08-05T09:21:04Z Questions remain about Johnny Depp's offer to purchase Wounded KneeDaniel Simmons-Ritchie Journal staff Rapid City Journal
August 05, 2013 7:00 am  • 

It was the offer that set Twitter aflame and Facebook abuzz, sparking a wave of rumor and debate across Indian country.

And then there was silence.

Last month, the Oglala Sioux revealed that it had been contacted by a representative for Hollywood actor Johnny Depp, who wished to purchase a private parcel of land in the vicinity of the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre and gift it back to the tribe. The land is part of the area where 300 Lakota men, women and children were killed by the U.S. military.

The land sale has been embroiled in controversy for the past five months because its owner has repeatedly said he won't sell it, as well as another parcel, for less than $4.9 million. Tribal officials have criticized the price as akin to extortion.

But Depp's offer changed the calculus of the tribe, and reaction from officials was jubilant.

"This is a great thing that is happening," President Bryan Brewer said in a statement.

But, since the initial announcement, details have been scarce.

Brewer has not responded to repeated calls by the Journal over the past month. Joel Mandel, Depp's business manager, has also not responded to repeated calls for comment.

"If he's not calling you back, that's probably because he doesn't have a statement to make," a woman in Mandel's office said Friday.

The confusion has been addled by an Associated Press story last month, two days after the tribe's announcement, in which Brewer is reported to have said he was never contacted by one of Depp's representatives.

But on Friday, Toni Red Cloud, a spokeswoman for the Oglala Sioux, denied that report.

"He doesn't remember making that comment," she said.

She affirmed that Brewer had spoken with a representative for Depp and that the tribe was still hopeful he would purchase the land on its behalf.

Red Cloud said that shortly after Brewer's conversation, tribal lawyers sent a letter to Depp's lawyers to formally express interest in any offer he might make. Brewer also met with descendants of the survivors of the Wounded Knee massacre to seek their approval.

Red Cloud said that as far as she is aware, the tribe hasn't received a response back from Depp's camp.

Jim Czywczynski, 76, the owner of the Wounded Knee parcel, told the Journal last month that he hasn't had any contact with Depp or his representatives.

Asked whether he believed Depp's offer was legitimate, Czywczynski said he was unsure.

"People from France to Germany to Australia have called me and asked the same question you have," he said. "The Denver Post and the New York Times. Everybody."

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. Braves Fan
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    Braves Fan - August 08, 2013 10:42 am
    Well said
  2. rockinRobbie
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    rockinRobbie - August 08, 2013 7:31 am
    I've been following this bloody mess, it's gore and guts, slaughtered women and children.
    Then there's the film; the critics made a mess out of it, lots of people enjoyed the film. Including me, I don't give a cent what critics think, they were obviously out for the jugular, to begin with. Too pointed and full of venom, something's off there Johnny Depp's known to be a person who does what he wants, and he's been criticized by everyone, including Native Americans. He's human and has feelings. There's no doubt the Sioux Lakota should get their land back, but part of his statement is that this is something the government should set right. Tribes have stated it would be dehumanizing for him to buy the land, since it should be returned to them, it IS their land. Others see it as a solution to the problem. Why the he** the land owner lived on sacred ground with a Museum, in a cabin, and now is crying about how he was left homeless because his home was burned down... it's like saying he's dumber than wood to not see that one coming!
  3. arturo standing elk
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    arturo standing elk - August 05, 2013 9:17 pm
    I'll believe it when I see it! I'm almost certain it's a publicity stunt, but I hope it isn't. The Lakota have suffered enough. More than enough!
  4. Rowdy
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    Rowdy - August 05, 2013 8:44 pm
    Yet another false promise from the white man.
  5. FROGGY47
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    FROGGY47 - August 05, 2013 6:38 pm
    I wonder if this was a publicity ploy since it was first reported right as The Lone ranger came out. Depp needed the backing of the Native Americans for this movie. Now that the movie is doing poorly, he doesn't care.
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