Johnny Depp wants to buy Wounded Knee for $3.9 million & give it back to the Sioux

Johnny Depp

By now, we’re all quite aware that The Lone Ranger did not take last holiday weekend’s box office by storm, but I’ve sort of been ignoring this news because it seems unnecessary to drag Disney’s latest over-budgeted monstrosity through the mud. And it’s not necessarily Johnny Depp’s fault that this film was a failure … even though I suspect that audiences are getting really tired of seeing him in makeup. I think Johnny could actually use a vacation from Hollywood. Just a year, you know? He should take some time off and come back strong. Make some indies and stop obsessing over the “stupid money because he already has plenty, and Hollywood will always want him if he stays fresh. Right now though, he’s just coming off the financial failures of Dark Shadows, The Rum Diary, and this Lone Ranger debacle, and that will take some recovery time.

I actually do feel badly for Johnny at the moment because he seemed very focused upon using his version of Tonto as a “small contribution to righting the wrongs” in regard to the Comanche tribe and the Indian as a whole. He took care to visit the Comanche headquarters in Lawton not once but twice while promoting this latest film. Now here’s a bit of a sobering interview with (of all places) the Mail, which buried the lede of course. This portion of the interview discusses Johnny’s desire to make (for lack of a better word) reparations towards the Sioux tribe for what happened at Wounded Knee. Johnny doesn’t understand why the government won’t give this land back, but he says he’s fully prepared to put down the cash for the land himself and give it back to the Sioux:

Johnny Depp

“What they teach you, certainly in American schools, is mostly a lie. Look at Andrew Jackson, who is celebrated as one of the great soldiers and presidents.

“His face is on the $20 bill, and that p-ssed me off because he was a cold-blooded, killing machine who murdered countless Indians. Abraham Lincoln’s face is on the penny, the smallest denomination of money you can have in the States.

“So the Great Emancipator was put on the least amount of money and Andrew Jackson’s face is on the $20 bill. What does that say?

“History is in the hands of those who get to write the books, as they say. And until you grow up and read about the true facts that’s the stuff they teach you in school.”

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.”

[From Daily Mail]

Sigh. And just like that, I’m loving Johnny again. I hope he’s really going to do follow through on his word and perform this good deed for the Sioux. There’s nothing quite like a “feel good Friday” story.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

Photos courtesy of WENN

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88 Responses to “Johnny Depp wants to buy Wounded Knee for $3.9 million & give it back to the Sioux”

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  1. TheOriginalKitten says:

    Not ready to love him again but this is really, truly great of him.

    He has a good heart, even if it’s the heart of a man deep in mid-life crisis.

  2. JenD says:

    If it’s for sale, it should be fairly easy to buy and give to the Sioux. There’s not a lot of “trying” he needs to do. It’s great that he read up on the history of Native Americans, but this anger at the government seems weird and late to the party. I thought it was pretty well-known how the government has treated the tribes.

  3. Ellie66 says:

    Never stopped loving him (just stopped seeing his movies) nice too see him tring to do a good deed. :)

  4. ThruRoseColouredGlasses says:

    Never stopped loving Johnny… this makes me love him more. He’s definitely my Forever Dong!

  5. Emma says:

    Damage control. But good for him if it works.

  6. RHONYC says:


    Johnny Depp is officially….



    welcome back, you hotass American patriot, you. *muah!* :-D

  7. Ginger says:

    I still recall the moment as an adult that I learned that the blankets given to the Native Americans that caused the small pox epidemic was done on purpose by the US Army. I was in shock and so, so sad. As a child I learned that the disease was accidental in normal trading among Native Americans and settlers. So, Johnny has a point about the corruption of history and that what we are taught may not be the truth. I really hope that he can buy the land and give it back to the Native Americans. It would surely mean a lot to many people.

    • Jules says:

      It was done by the Spanish way before the US Army did it. Not to defend what our country did. Haven’t you ever heard of Montezuma’s Revenge?

      • UsedToBeLulu says:

        Jules has a good point. And atrocities were committed on BOTH sides. It’s not a black and white situation.

        Having said that, if Depp wants to buy Wounded Knee and give it back to the Sioux Nation, props to him.

      • Alarmjaguar says:

        Um, no, it wasn’t an even trade. Europeans came and took pretty much everything from Native people. I can’t even get into how many instances of massacre, slavery, broken treaty promises, etc. went on. You can’t say that invasion and self-defense are the same thing.

      • UsedToBeLulu says:

        I didn’t say it was an even trade…?

        Civilizations have been displacing each other since humans first walked the earth. It is the nature of things. How far back do we need to go in each and every instance to ‘make things right’?

        I think it is great if Depp is able to give Wounded Knee back to the Sioux. I have zero problem with that. But we have been romanticizing the Native Americans and demonizing the Europeans/English/Americans for a long time now (see Dancing With Wolves).

        My grandfather was a member of the Choctaw Indian Nation BTW.

      • Isabelle says:

        Believe the British also practiced it.

      • Emily C. says:

        While many other countries have also treated their native populations terribly (see: Australia), the U.S. does have the lead in that area. Check out the numbers of Native Americans in the U.S. vs. the numbers in Mexico. The reason other countries have higher Native populations, either in sheer numbers or proportional to their whole population, is that while European colonizers there certainly treated the native populations poorly, they did not set out to commit genocide.

        Part of the reason for the Revolutionary War was that the British government wanted to honor treaties they’d made with Native Americans and did not want to exterminate them for their land, and many colonists in what was then the west (i.e. Ohio) did. We really can’t get away with “everyone did it”, because they didn’t. While it wasn’t the fault of anyone alive now, until we acknowledge the truth of what happened, we cannot act justly today.

    • H26 says:

      I had an awesome US History teacher, who made sure we all knew that as a country we had done some not so great things also, he was very detailed in the horror of slavery and I remember learning about the small pox blankets.

  8. Bubulle says:

    Good for him if he did, but I smell opportunism here. Funny how Depp waited all those years to reconnect with his indian roots why not before, it’s like he was waiting for an opportunity to get good publicity after all the criticism regarding his personnal and professionnal life.

    • tealily says:

      I think he’s has before though, hasn’t he?

    • LAK says:

      He has never hidden his Native American blood.

      It was mentioned alot when he first became a star on 21 Jump street.

      Every write up almost always mentions as an aside that he is part Native American as the explanation for his cheekbones….

      Superficial? yes. And probably why most of the public glossed over that little detail even though it’s always brought up. [and not removed by his publicists if he didn't want it in his interviews]

      i wasn’t surprised at all that he took this part, even though coincidentally he got to dress up. Again. As he does for his films.

      There has always been a very low key superficial mention of it in most of his interviews.

      • lena80 says:

        His cheekbones are more than likely from his AA genes… reported that he’s direct descendant of Elizabeth Key, an African-American former slave who worked within the law to win her freedom in 1656. Depp has never verified his Native Ancestry….and given the racial issues in the US, it was probably easier for her descendants to say they have Native blood instead of AA blood….the last part is just my assumption though.

  9. Jamie says:

    I saw the Lone Ranger last weekend. I didn’t think it would be good….matter of fact I didn’t even really want to go see it. However, it was actually FABULOUS! Johnny Depp was so funny as Tonto! Seriously, The Lone Ranger rocked, kimosaube!

    • Dawn says:

      This! I went only because I never miss a Depp movie and ended up loving it! If you haven’t had the chance to see or if you thought you would hate it you should reconsider. It’s really good. And yes, Wounded Knee should go back to the Native American tribe it was stolen from.

    • iheartjacksparrow says:

      Everyone who sees the movie loves it. If people would stop reading the so-called “pro” critics on Rotten Tomatoes (who gave the movie a 25% rating) and go see the movie for themselves, they will enjoy it. I’m going tomorrow for the third time. Love the bunny rabbits!

    • Cool Phosphorescent Shimmer says:

      I didn’t want to see it ether, but my Mom loves JD, so I took her–it was really very entertaining, and Johnny was absolutely adorable and charming in it. I ended up liking it quite a bit, and this is NOT my type of movie at all.

  10. Feebee says:

    On the surface a perfect feel good Friday story, however I’ll feel better if he doesn’t wear that double breasted suit ever again.

  11. Holden says:

    Why the F did you buy us an empty lot in the middle of South Dakota, bro? Where’s the casino?

  12. Decloo says:

    The Sioux and Comanche are two distinct tribes but, whatever…

  13. Mandy says:

    That is so awesome. I’m sure he will do as much as he can to make it happen. Even though he has been kind of a tool lately, he still has a good heart! :)

  14. Clarice says:

    The sioux said it’s true that Johnny’s representatives asked to them “permission” to do an offer to the guy selling the land (you know? Native Americans are very respectful, and that was their land, so Johnny asked to them first)

    They say that Johnny has a big big hearth but some of them don’t want him to buy the land, not because they don’t like Johnny or anything like that, but because they said the seller is taken BIG ADVANTAGE. The seller want to be rich from a land that is taxed at around U$14.000 not 4 million!

  15. Raquel says:

    I never understood how making a movie while you are in redface ‘rights the wrongs,’ no matter how sincere your intentions. If Disney or Depp were sincere, they would have given the role to…oh…an actual Native.

    In spite of that, I do think that would be a pretty awesome move. The Sioux have been getting the short end of the stick in government/land disputes for ages.

  16. tealily says:

    Am I the only one who really liked ‘The Rum Diary’? I wish he’d do some more like that.

  17. Jess says:

    IF Johnny actually does this (and isn’t just talking about doing it to get the credit), then that will go a long way towards both improving his rep and proving that he’s not just another poser actor.

    • Mala says:

      he always does thing like this…
      It’s ridiculous how the hate here, is making the people forget that this is the guy who spends hours reading stories to sick children dressed as Capitan Jack Sparrow
      Or gave 2 million to an hospital
      Or went to a school dressed as Capitan Jack because a little fan asked his help in a mutiny!
      And in secret, he paid the whole treatment for a poor mexican girl, terminally ill. And three years after that, she is still alive thanks to his money and his big heart!

  18. junegorilla says:

    Sick of him. And he’s full of sh-t. You hang up your artiste hat at Pirates the sequel. As well as any sequel to “Meet the Parents”, “The Hangover”, anything Tim Burton post “Edward Scissorhands”. He and Burton will probably turn wounded knee into a theme park.

  19. skippy says:

    I think that’s a fine idea Johnny has there and I hope he makes it happen. Also a nice huge casino for the Pine Ridge Reservation donated by Johnny would be a good idea too as the reservation people are deeply in debt. so that would help out too.
    I would be happy to help Johnny with donations too if he would post a source for accepting them online.

  20. mar says:

    he has Native American blood.

    This is a great topic, I hate Thanksgiving because I know what is really is about, stealing the native’s land and killing them, after pretending to be peaceful friends. Probably nothing too different from any land conquering scenario, but we celebrate it.

    I never stopped loving him, not sure why everyone freaked out when he left Vanessa, he was with her for a long time and sometimes things just fizzle.

  21. Emily C. says:

    “Still fresh”? Johnny rotted a long time ago.

  22. Side-Eye says:

    But you know what really pisses me off? Assholes on tumblr passing around the unsubstantiated, unsourced, unlinked, rumor that Disney was paying off the Comanche tribe to make the Lone Ranger.

  23. Lea says:

    @Raquel I’m sure this is partly the reason. Hollywood needs to stop with the whitewashing…I’ve always liked Johnny but it’s so offensive by him to act like his portrayal is such a great generous gesture.Dude,you’ve been paid millions to be in a redface.Now this sudden interest with the Native community and his roots…

  24. Berny says:

    He doesn’t need any of these. Not for publicity (he can’t get more famous) nor to gain the favours with native americans (as if they were his more massive fans)and he could do something less expensive for publicity of course!

    I think he is sincere. But it’s getting out of proportion. People saying that it’s because the bad reviews or why he doesn’t do other thing with his money or the stupid pride like the natives don’t need his money

    Better he’ll stay quiet, and let the storm to pass and after that, do his move for the land if he still want to. Also he doesn’t have any obligation with the native americans!

  25. NEENAZEE says:

    The real poetry of having Lincoln on the penny, is that now everyone can have a piece of him… not just the privileged few. Our society is WAY too focused on the idea that money = importance. But the truth is that linking a president and his legacy with a high dollar denomination doesn’t mean he’s more valuable or done a good job. We need to remind ourselves of that.

    I wish more rich people thought and acted like Johnny… so many things of historical, cultural or religious significance could be purchased for small sums of money (relatively speaking) and returned to their rightful owners or preserved in museums. And the world would be a much better place for it… instead we’re on a collision course of egoism and greed. *sigh*

    • Ocean Dip says:

      You make such a good point. Sadly, Lincoln’s penny is no longer worth bending over to pick up off the street. But that’s a different discussion.

      The significance of Depp’s offer is more historical than beneficial to the plight of Native Americans. Would love to see those millions of dollars go towards the reservations that still exist. The poverty, alcoholism and despair is a shameful condition in this country.

      *Gets off soap box. TGIF*

  26. Mitch Buchanan Rocks! says:

    Thunderheart is an excellent movie about the Conflict in the ’70′s – and Val Kilmer was hottttt. A good historical read ‘Bury my heart at wounded knee’ by Dee Brown.

  27. homegrrl says:

    Don’t know if I can forgive him for leaving his family for 20something amanda. He’s just a cliche to me now. Not the orginal thinker or fringe cool person. At least he should do something legendary with his “stupid money”.

  28. Meanchick says:

    Don’t try. Do it. $4 million? Do it.

  29. Snail says:

    Read on the ‘net that JD is worth $350 million, so yeah, he could easily afford that piece of land!
    That’s really not that much money. Heck, there are condos here in San Francisco selling for way more than that.
    I’m sure if he buys it he’ll give it to the Sioux. I just wonder if the gov’t will somehow try to bar him from buying it or sell it to someone else who wouldn’t be giving it back to the Sioux.

  30. Thora says:

    I agree with Johnny needing to get out of the make up and act in some indies. But wasn’t he trying to do that in The Rum Diary? At any rate he needs to get away from the caricatures and sink his teeth into some solid dramatic roles.

  31. dcypher1 says:

    Johnny shouldn’t have to buy the land for them the government should just give it back to the souix cus that would be the right thing to do.

  32. moon says:

    Poor Johnny, he’s really having a midlife crisis, huh? This is a sweet gesture, but coming from Johnny, it feels like one of those buying a new expensive car things.

  33. Zombie Shortcake says:

    I have a feeling he will happily raise the cash to buy Wounded Knee, not throw down his own moolah. I wonder if his long time friendship with Brando inspired him to support this cause.

  34. Janet says:

    Never understood the hate. Him and Vanessa kept it together till they had their base in France but once in L.A it seems Vanessa wasn’t all too happy because of her work commitments back her home. They probably fought over going back but Depp’s tight schedule made it impossible and him ‘self-medicating’ himself with alcohol in the face of a crumbling relationship put the final nail in the coffin.

    This Amber chick is a rebound fling for sex, he always had a few of them inbetween relationships,so that he can concentrate on his career and being a good father instead of entangling himself into another relationship.

    By all accounts,including that of his Ex-s he’s a good guy with a big heart. Hope there’s enough support and transparency around in order for him to do this deed. What is in need of redemption is his career. He badly needs to do some decent roles before audience tire of him.

    • Suzie says:

      +1000 they say bad relationship is a main reason for a guy or woman to become workaholic. Both Depp and Vanessa were working alot and spending most of the time apart during last few years. That started the split-up rumours and of them living seperately. Amber and other women came in much later by the time it was but officially over.

      Depp is ‘dumb’ as in he’s a die-hard romantic. He seems to fall fast and hard for his women without thinking much. However he’s enough of a good guy to keep it going afterwards.

      Lone Ranger is a flop and it’s not going to change. I’m actually relieved ‘cos I can’t stand him getting trapped in another franchise. He needs to branch out.

      A great actor and good-hearted man and I hope this deal happens for real

  35. jemshoes says:

    You totally nailed it Bedhead — I’m really sick of seeing JD in makeup and acting like various cultural interpretations of the one character (ie Captain Jack Sparrow) in all of his Hollywood films. He was more interesting when he was collaborating with Tim Burton and other such directors.

  36. Haystacks says:

    Depp becoming insufferable is actually the main reason I did not go to Lone Ranger, and I dig silly western type things.

    This is actually kind of insufferable too, it stinks of “white savior” complex.

    There is something to be said for giving anonymously.

    Do the Sioux have an opinion on this, and can “government” land even be bought?