Despite recent reports to the contrary, James Swan, founder of the United Urban Warrior Society, stuck to his claims that Tim Giago communicated to him via email that Giago was withdrawing from a deal involving the sale of Wounded Knee, currently in private hands. He forwarded screengrabs of the email to ICTMN and said he plans to post them on Facebook.
Reached at his office Friday, Giago had told ICTMN that he remains committed to help raise money to purchase the 40 acres near the burial site.
Though Swan noted that he was not the official UUWS spokesperson, but simply its founder, he went on the record with ICTMN to talk about why he was opposed to the sale, and how he felt that Giago was not being truthful about the demise of the deal.
Why do you oppose Giago raising funds to buy Wounded Knee?
The initial sale of this area to the Gildersleeves was illegally done. Ultimately the bank had repossessed the property and James Czywczynski bought it from the bank.
When Pe'sla was sold at an exorbitant price, Natives bought it because it was sacred to them and money did not matter. We bought it at all costs in order to save it.
James Czywczynski told ICTMN that he wants to recoup the money he claims to have lost when the takeover during the second Wounded Knee resulted in the loss of property and the destruction of the General Store.
You have to go back in history. The people never wanted that store there in the first place. The Gildersleeves were very shrewd and rude and ripped off people really bad. Czywczynski says the land he is selling is not where the burial site is. If you look at the map, the Hotchkiss guns were on top of the hill, and the ravine is where people were running away from the Hotchkiss guns — they died in that ravine, that area has blood in the ground and that area is just as sacred as the [official] burial site.
What is your reason for wanting to stop this deal?
The bottom line is because our spiritual leaders have said no, our tribal elders have said no, the treaty Council, of which I am a spokesperson, has said no and the descendants of those buried there have said no. As a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, those are my relatives buried in that hill. The community of Wounded Knee has said no and they asked us to step up.
I said I would and I did.
Giago and Czywczynski have told ICTMN that the sale is on, and that your account is incorrect. Your response?
I would have never posted what I did out of the blue! That's why I posted a copy of his e-mail to show it came from him. However, I should have known Tim was able to pull a stunt like this.
Raising funds to purchase Wounded Knee was one possibility for Lakota people to get the land back, so now what?
We have to see what James [Czywczynski] wants to do. We don't have a problem with him selling it. But he's got to sell it for fair market value. The other land around there is worth maybe $7,000 to $8,000 an acre.
Czywczynski says he wants to recoup the losses of the business he could have had over the years.
My response is what about our treaty lands? What about our Black Hills and the resources that were stolen from Native people? His argument is moot and pointless because Native people have lost a gazillion times more than he could ever imagine. Lesser people lost more than him, and you don't hear them crying like a big baby about it. You can quote me on that.
Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling