Johnny Depp has announced that he wants to buy Wounded Knee, a national historic landmark, and give it back to the Indian people.
In an interview with the Mail On Sunday, the actor revealed that he is ready to spend millions in order to give the Native American people control of the land that was the site of a brutal 1890 massacre.
‘It’s very sacred ground and many atrocities were committed against the Sioux there,’ he said in the interview.
Investment: Johnny Depp researched Native American history for his role as Tonto, the Indian sidekick to the Lone Ranger, but that attention to detail hasn’t helped in the box office as it is being deemed a flop
Heritage: Depp announced that he would like to buy the site of Wounded Knee, an 1890 massacre that left hundreds of Native Americans dead, and return it to them
‘And in the 1970s there was a stand-off between the Feds (Federal government) and the people who should own that land. This historical land is so important to the Sioux culture and all I want to do is buy it and give it back. Why doesn’t the government do that?’
Depp’s interest in Native American culture was highlighted because of his role as Tonto, the Indian sidekick of the fictional Lone Ranger character.
He has spoken in depth about how he did exhaustive research about the various tribes and got the approval of many Native American groups before filming began.
‘The main thing was, “Are we doing right by the Indian? Let’s not make any mistakes here.” The idea was to give back to them and to make sure that we got it right,’ he said in the lengthy interview.
Just before: This picture of the Miniconjou Sioux band was taken near the site of the Wounded Knee massacre one month before the December 1890 massacre where hundreds of Indians were killed
Tragic: Chief Spotted Elk, (widely known by the somewhat derogatory nickname Big Foot) the leader of the Sioux, is seen here as he lay frozen in the ground after the fighting at Wounded Knee. The legendary leader died in that battle with American troops
‘The production was blessed by the Navajo and the Comanche and I got a call from LaDonna Harris, who has been a Comanche activist for many years, to say that she wanted to adopt me into her family and into the Comanche nation. It’s a great honor.’
Moneybags: Depp commands $20m per film and is thought to have a fortune of several hundred million dollars
That blessing did not extended to the box office, however.
The Lone Ranger opened on July 3 and is estimated to lose between $150million and $200million due to the film’s $215million production budget and additional $175million for marketing.
The money is no matter to Depp, however, as he plans to make the move for Wounded Knee using his own personal savings.
Depp’s standard salary is said to be around $20million per picture, and his total net worth is in the $200million to $300million range.
With that deep of a bank account, Wounded Knee’s asking price of $3.9million should not cause a second glance.
‘I am doing my best to make that happen. It’s land they were pushed on to and then they were massacred there. It really saddens me,’ he told the Mail On Sunday.
The area near Wounded Knee Creek on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is the site where the last major battle of the American Indian Wars took place.
The fight began when the American troops tried to disarm the Lakota Indians, and when one elderly tribesman refused to hand over his weapon the troops began to attack.
The exact number of casualties differs in various reports, but there were thought to be at least 150 members of the Lakota tribe- including men, women and children- who were killed. The massacre has caused outrage from historians as at least 20 American soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their role in the bloodshed.
Commemoration: Wounded Knee is now a National Historic Landmark but Depp thinks it should belong to the Native Americans who once lived on the land
Up for sale: The land is said to be for sale for $3.9million and Depp said he is going to do ‘everything possible’ to make it happen.