An Oglala Lakota newspaper publisher has started a campaign to buy 40 acres of private land near the Wounded Knee Massacre site.
The land is held by a non-native owner who is asking nearly $4-million for the property. Those backing the plan to buy the land say it needs to be held by the Lakota people and used in a positive way.
Newspaper publisher Tim Giago says he wants to see a museum and arts and trade center built on the property once it’s acquired.
“I talked with several elders and some of the descendants of the survivors of Wounded Knee and I think all of them have one thing in common. They say the 125th anniversary of Wounded Knee just past. So we spent 125 years remembering and honoring the people who died there in that horrible massacre and we respect them will continue to honor them. But we feel now it’s time to start honoring the living,” says Giago.
Giago says currently Native artists have few places to create and sell their work. He the museum could play a similar role to Jewish Holocaust Museums – as a way to show incidents of genocide against indigenous nations. He says these are histories that shouldn’t be ignored.
“I visited the Holocaust Museum and I was just stunned by everything I saw there. And, you come away there feeling there is a lack of education on a lot of these things. I see the same thing here could happen on the Pine Ridge Reservation. People could come and everything they have not been taught in the schools and that’s a lot. They could learn about the history of so many tribes,” says Giago.
But some Pine Ridge residents have expressed concern, saying they want to see the land turned over to the Lakota people but don’t want to see it developed. Giago says any development would require consent of the people. His non-profit fund has been established and he hopes to see the money raised for both the purchase of the land and for the creation of a museum and art space.