An old news item about actor Johnny Depp's intention to buy Wounded Knee began recirculating in October 2015. There appears to be little to the report.

Published Oct 27, 2015

[green-label]NEWS:[/green-label] In mid-October 2015, several web sites reported that Johnny Depp intended to buy Wounded Knee — the site of a Native American massacre in South Dakota — in order to give the land back to local tribes:

On Sunday, well-known actor Johnny Depp disclosed that he intends to buy Wounded Knee, a national historic landmark, and gift it back to the Indian people. He shared that he is ready to spend millions in order to give control back to those that should have inherited the land, and help make right what went so wrong back in 1890.

While sites such as True Activist, Countercurrent, and Mintpress News reported the story as if it were current in 2015, the information contained within those articles was sourced from a 2013 story published by the Daily Mail:

Such is Depp's commitment to the Native American cause, he is planning to spend millions of his own money to return land, Wounded Knee, in South Dakota, to their ownership. 

The site, the scene of an 1890 massacre, is up for sale for $3.9 million. Local Native Americans say they cannot afford to buy it. Depp is outraged.

"It's very sacred ground and many atrocities were committed against the Sioux there. 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?"

Is he really prepared to pay for the land?

"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."

The above-quoted article created a lot of buzz after it was initially published, but there has been little to report on the topic since then. In August 2013, a few months after the Daily Mail article was published, Bryan Brewer, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, shot down rumors that the actor had visited the reservation:

There was however a recent rumor about a sighting of Depp on Pine Ridge. President Brewer said it was only a rumor though.

"That was a crazy rumor. There were rumors going all over. There was no Johnny Depp, at least not that I know of. There were rumors he was with me. He wasn't with me. Every girl on the reservation was calling me to say 'please give him my telephone number.' I don't know who started those rumors, but it spread like wildfire. I have a whole list of numbers I am supposed to give to him," Brewer said. "It really would be great if he could come to our reservation."

Jim Czywczynski, the owner of the Wounded Knee parcel, also said that he was never contacted by Depp or his representatives:

Jim Czywczynski, 76, [said] that he hasn't had any contact with Depp or his representatives.

Asked whether he believed Depp's offer was legitimate, Czywczynski said he was unsure.

"People from France to Germany to Australia have called me and asked the same question you have," he said. "The Denver Post and the New York Times. Everybody."

The most recent update we could find regarding the sale of Wounded Knee was published by The Indian Country Today Media Network in October 2014. That article, which stated that Jim Czywczynski was still looking for a buyer, made no mention of Johnny Depp.


Dan Evon is a former writer for Snopes.

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