Wounded Knee- For profit, ticket sales, or true kindness?



Wow, what a situation has occurred, as many of us know. (Those who don’t: Johnny Depp mentioned wanting to buy Wounded Knee and giving it back to the Native Americans here in my home state of South Dakota. Link is above.)

There are a number of opinions based on this possibility and here are the top few of them.

1. He’s doing it for ticket sales due to his crapped-out Lone Ranger movie.

2. He’s doing it for publicity and fame (kinda goes hand-in-hand with #1)

3. He’s doing it out of pity

4. He’s doing it to look more “Native American”

5. He’s doing it from the heart

6. That’s kind and all, but not actually going to help the current situation. If he’s going to spend that much money he should use it to build youth centers or schools or housing or so on, so forth.

Ok, phew, that’s a load-full of assumptions all in a day and a half, is it not?

My thoughts, in case anyone was curious. (Keeping in mind I am neither a stark-raving fan of his, nor am I completely indifferent to his career and acting choices, and I do enjoy a number of things he is in as well as have none-so-fond or apathetic opinions on other things he has done. You can keep in mind or disregard the fact that I do think he is devilishly handsome, but that has in no way swayed my opinion on this topic. Many people find him devilishly handsome.)

#1/#2. Mr. Depp has had a number of crapped out movies, it’s part of being an actor, most of them have. Once in awhile, there’s going to be a bad decision made or there’s going to be stuff that goes wrong, and don’t you think the movie has had enough press (his slightly stereotypical Native character “Tonto” being done in a, we’ll say, slightly disreputable and insulting way) And for that matter, does Mr. Depp honestly strike people as the type to make matters worse by dangling this hope in front of millions of faces to make himself look better? For one thing, he strikes me as the type to not be so stupid as to assume this could in any way make him look better or gain forgiveness for his decision. Another thing: I don’t think he gives a fuck what we think about his acting decisions, and I hope he doesn’t. He is not by any means obligated to.

3. Hm. It’s my opinion that assuming he is doing this out of pity is pretentious (if not outright attention-seeking). Not to mention insulting and degrading to Mr. Depp. Stop for a moment and think, “Is that something I would do?” or “Is that something my friend would do?” or “Is that something my neighbor would do?” or “Is that something a perfect stranger would do?” Chances are (hopefully) you’re going to say no to all of those. He is not some attention-seeking icon nor is he some sort of inhuman celebrity whose lot in life is to pity people for press.

4. He “claims” to have Native blood so he must be doing it for that reason, to look more “Native”. I’m not sure how to even respond to this one, regardless of his actual heritage (for one thing being absolutely none of our business, we all speculate or we all know what we are, regardless of proof or iron-solid facts. Do you honestly expect him to draw his family tree for you?). What a petty and pathetic assumption made by small minds with no imagination. Get real.

5. THERE we go. “He’s doing it from the heart” ok this I can see as being true. Even if he isn’t, does it matter?

6. “Nice gesture and all but…” OK so here’s where the real opinion comes in. This is in my home state and I know the Indigenous population in this part. I know people who live on Pine Ridge and I’ve met some of their tribal leaders. I’m also a business woman and this land is going for 3.9 Million (article says 4.9, Wounded Knee itself just 3.9) Let’s do the math. Some say he should build youth centers and schools and so on, so forth.

Ok, let’s start with the simple fact that 3.9 million dollars is NOTHING by big business standards. It’s a couple pennies. For what you’re talking about, we’ll go with ONE youth center for a population of Indigenous folks this size, that can conservatively be called “Start-Up Cost”. Much less more than one. Simply put, unless that youth center became self-sustaining within a year (possibly two, if their lawyers, CPAs and other financial folks were on-the-ball and sharp as knives) it’s gone. Sure, 3.9 may seem like a lot. But not when you’re considering land permits, taxes (considerably higher on the reservations), building permits, business licenses/taxes/permits, utilities, so on, so forth. Yes, they desperately need one. The suicide rate within the youth population is horrendous, but I can tell you they already tried the youth center thing and due to funding and politics (mostly politics), it crashed. Plus, it would take two or more years just to get government approval to build something like that. Nice thought, not going to happen.

Also, keeping in mind that “it’s a nice gesture and all…” says right there. It’s not Mr. Depp’s concern. The well-being of the reservations belong to the people of the reservations and those sworn to help them. What he is offering is not salvation- it’s a chance to HEAL. Once that spiritual land is returned to its rightful owners, healing can begin, and once healing begins, the rest will fall into place on its own. Please don’t expect a savior out of him. Just accept it as it is- a gift, an opportunity, a chance to heal. He knows this already, that is why he has offered it, or even offered the suggestion. He obviously feels it deep inside or he wouldn’t have risked mentioning it to the press. The red tape he is going to have to cut through to make it happen is phenomenal and may not happen for awhile anyway.

My point being simply this: Keep hope and have faith, but don’t put it all on his shoulders and don’t try to make bad his image because of it. If it’s meant to happen, it will. Those with a true connection to this land and the historical value of it know that. And it seems to me, Mr. Depp is aware of this too. And if indeed he has genetic indigenous ties to the people of this land (or surrounding land), this could very well be an opportunity of healing for him, too. The only difference for him is that he has the means unlike the rest of us and the reservations in the area, if he’s using it to help others, then be glad for that. There are much better ways to use money to make yourself look good. Stop making a soap opera of it and smile at the thought that perhaps, this land and these people can find a semblance of healing after all. If that is his intention, then thank you, Mr. Depp.



“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

-Richard Bach


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