The site of Wounded Knee in South Dakota has been declared as a National Historic Site by the United States Government.
There has never been a memorial or commemoration site built on the grounds where one of America’s most tragic episodes occurred on December 29, 1890 when nearly 300 innocent Lakota men, women and children were massacred.
The purpose of this organization is to raise the money to purchase the 40 acres of land at Wounded Knee from owner Jim Czywczynski who is asking $3.9 million for the land.
After the funds are raised and the land is purchased we intend to put the land in trust for the all of the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation and work hand-in-hand with the tribal governments to continue to raise the funds to rebuild the trading post that was burned to the ground in 1973 and to construct a trade pavilion where members of all the tribe can set up year-around booths to sell their arts and crafts, and also to build a cultural center and holocaust museum that would tell the story of the Lakota People and of the history of the Wounded Knee massacre plus the massacres of Indians from Arizona to Idaho that have occurred in the United States.
Unemployment on the Pine Ridge Reservation where Wounded Knee is located has been reported by the tribe as hovering around 80 percent.
We believe that by establishing a trading post, trade pavilion, and cultural center and a museum we can assist all of the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation in providing more than 200 jobs. The construction phase alone would provide at least 100 jobs and the trade pavilion would provide permanent jobs for the hundreds of artists and crafts people residing on the Pine Ridge and the other reservations.
The trading post, which would include a convenience store, gas station and camping grounds, will also provide many badly needed jobs.
I was born, raised and educated on the Pine Ridge Reservation and I am an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. When I was a small child my father worked as a clerk and butcher at the Wounded Knee Trading Post and we lived in the small village of Wounded Knee. The Trading Post was then owned by Clive and Agnes Gildersleeve and their daughter Joanne was my playmate when we were toddlers.
The history of Wounded Knee is well-documented and is known throughout the civilized world. We believe that if all of the things we are suggesting take place a Wounded Knee visitor’s center and museum would draw millions of visitors from not only the United States, but from around the world.
The jobs and financial rewards accorded to the Oglala Sioux Tribe and all of the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation would do much to alleviate the horrendous poverty that now exists.
But just as important, honoring the victims of one of the worst massacres of Indians in America would do much to heal the wounds and to open the doors of reconciliation. Former South Dakota Governor George Mickelson who died in a plane crash in 1993 and I initiated the Year of Reconciliation in January of 1990 to honor the 100th Anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee.
We want this to be a project endeavored by Native Americans, members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, not to capitalize on the disastrous massacre, but to honor the victims of that tragedy who lie in a trench carved in the earth on a hill overlooking the now destroyed village at Wounded Knee.
This year will mark the 125th Anniversary of that massacre and with the good intentions we had 25 years ago at reconciliation gone by the wayside, it is now time to take up that effort once more.
If you visit the gravesite today you will find a few very poor Indian people attempting to sell trinkets to the tourists visiting the site. The happy village that once stood near the gravesite was burned to the ground in 1973 during the occupation of the village by members of the American Indian Movement.
The history of this encounter and the history of the massacre are entwined in an odd fashion, but both are a part of the overall history of Wounded Knee.
All of the tribes of South Dakota have suffered greatly over the past two centuries and they deserve to lay claim to the lands where their people died. And as with anything involving the tribal entities there can be many different opinions and we will work closely with the all of the tribes of the Sioux Nation to ensure that no one is offended by our good intentions.