Historical Sites for Sale…From Wounded Knee to Berlin Wall

Tuesday, April 02, 2013
Burying the dead in a mass grave at Wounded Knee (photo-Librarry of Congress, Wikipedia)

Property owners from South Dakota to Germany have incensed activists over the sale of landmark terrain.


In South Dakota, the uproar involves a 40-acre plot of land where the Battle of Wounded Knee took place on December 29, 1890. U.S. soldiers massacred about 300 Sioux, most of them women and children, in what turned out to be the last major conflict of the American Indian wars. But today, Native Americans want the site preserved so people don’t forget the injustice.


Wounded Knee was also the site of the 1973 incident during which members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) occupied the town for more than two months.


The land’s owner, James A. Czywczynski of Rapid City, wants to sell it for $3.9 million—which is far more than it’s worth, members of the Oglala Sioux say.


They claim the parcel’s value is about $7,000. The Sioux want to buy the land, but don’t have the money to pay nearly $4 million.


Czywczynski says his asking price is fair because it accounts for the land’s sentimental and historical value.


“That historical value means something to us, not him,” Garfield Steele, a member of the tribal council who represents Wounded Knee, told The New York Times. “We see that greed around here all the time with non-Indians. To me, you can’t put a price on the lives that were taken there.”


Czywczynski, who has owned the land since 1968, says that if the Oglala Sioux don’t buy the land by May 1 he will put it up for auction.


Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, a property developer has angered many Germans over removing a portion of the Berlin Wall.


The sections were torn down in order to create an access route to new high-rise luxury apartments under development.


Representing the Berlin Wall’s longest surviving stretch of the famed Cold War divider, the East Side Gallery has existed as an outdoor art exhibit featuring brightly colored graffiti murals painted by artists from around the world.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Anger Over Plan to Sell Site of Wounded Knee Massacre (by John Eligon, New York Times)

Developer Removes Segments Of Berlin Wall At East Side Gallery (Deutsche Welle)

Battle To Keep the Remainder of the Berlin Wall (by Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post)


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