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Native Americans face ultimatum on Wounded Knee site sale

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A small patch of prairie sits largely unnoticed off a desolate road in southwestern South Dakota, surrounded by dilapidated structures and hundreds of grave sites -- many belonging to Native Americans massacred in the 19th century.

Assessed value of the property: less than $14,000. The seller's asking price: $4.9 million.

Tribal members say the owner of the land on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is trying to profit from their suffering. On Dec. 29, 1890, 300 Native American men, women and children were killed by the 7th Cavalry in the final battle of the American Indian Wars.

James Czywczynski, whose family has owned the property since 1968, is trying to sell the 40-acre fraction of the historic landmark and another 40-acre parcel for $4.9 million. He gave te Oglala Sioux Tribe until Wednesday to agree to the price, after which he would open it up to outside investors.

Oglala Sioux tribal president Bryan Brewer said that the tribe does not have the money and even if it did, tribal members shouldn't have to buy back something that is theirs.

"We are hoping no one will buy this land," he said.

The ultimatum has caused anger among many tribal members and descendants of the massacre victims.

"Selling this massacre site and using the victims as a selling pitch is, for lack of a better word, it's grotesque," said Nathan Blindman, 56. -- AP

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