Actor Johnny Depp, who plays Tonto in the new film version of "The Lone Ranger," is reportedly interested in buying land at Wounded Knee in South Dakota and returning it to the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
Depp made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with the British tabloid the Daily Mail.
Wounded Knee is the site of an 1890 massacre. The 7th Cavalry killed about 150 Native American men, women and children in the final battle of the American Indian Wars. Some estimates put the Native American casualties from the battle as high as 300.
'It's very sacred ground and many atrocities were committed against the Sioux there," the Daily Mail quoted Depp as saying. "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?''
Landowner James Czywczynski, whose family has owned the property since 1968, put a 40-acre parcel of the Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark and another 40-acre parcel on the open market for $4.9 million in May. The Wounded Knee landmark is on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
The land has an assessed value of less than $14,000, according to the Associated Press.
The Daily Mail asked Depp if he really were prepared to pay for the land.
"I am doing my best to make that happen," he said. "It's land they were pushed on to and then they were massacred there. It really saddens me."
Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer welcomed the possibility that Depp would buy the land and return it to the tribe, according to the Indian Country Today Media Network. It quoted him as saying that the tribe would be more than willing to meet with Depp.