Monday, August 10, 2015

Crazy Horse Memorial--more than just a carving in rock

Doing something different today. This is one of my vacation posts. Hope you enjoy the history of an excellent place to visit if you ever get to the south-west section of South Dakota, in the area of Custer.

 This is the mountain in South Dakota, in private lands in the Black Hills, in Custer County. Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, approached the Polish-American sculptor,  Korczak Ziolkowski back in 1931. For those of you who aren't familiar with Ziolkowski, or this giant supture, he was one of the men who worked on Mt. Rushmore. This monument, being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, considered sacred by some Ogalala Lakota, between Custer and Hill City, and is about 17 miles from Mount Rushmore. The sculpture's final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet wide and 563 feet high. The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 ft high--by comparison, the heads of the four presidents at Mnt Rushmore are each 60 feet high. This work has been in progress since 1948, and is far from completion. I remember visiting this when I was very small, with my parents. When completed, it may become the world's largest non-religious statue since 1967 held by the Soviet Union's "The Motherland Calls".

This is what the completed work should look like eventually. I remember my husband and I coming out about ten years ago. We also came to see it back in the 90's and they were working on the face. I see by the picture, they've really gotten far with that.

Ziolkowski died in 1982, his widow, Ruth, took charge of the sculpture, overseeing the work on the project from the 1980's to the 2010, when she decided to focus on the completion of Crazy Horse's face first, instead of the horse, as her husband had originally planned. She believed that once the Indian's face was completed, the sculpture would be a better draw for tourism. Seven of their ten children, have carried on the work, and daughter, Monique Ziolkowski, a sculptor, modified some of her father's plans to ensure that the weight of the outstretched arm is supported.

The memorial is to be the centerpiece of an educational/cultural center when completed. As of my last visit there is a museum, a very nice restaurant, and a couple of shops to buy all Native American made crafts. I always buy a chunk of the blasted mountain whenever we go.

Oh, and one more thing to mention, this is NOT a federally funded project. Believe me, the government approached Ziolkowski a number of times, and he turned them down. The original agreement was to not have the American government get involved. You know they would have changed everything about the place. So, this is a worthwhile place to come to, should you get out on the road and are in that area. And if you go, here is a site in the area of Custer, to find places to see and stay. Always a lot to do there. The only thing I don't like about South Dakota is that they've gone with open casinos, and gambling just about everywhere you turn. I'm not a gambler. I think it's a terrible thing to get addicted on.

Hope your summer is going well. I'm going to enjoy the rest of my week off, just staying home, mostly.


  1. This is something I haven't seen- I'll have to remedy that someday!

  2. Yes, it would be worth while. The times I've ever visited, there is a Native American presence. I've actually found a peacefulness in this place. It's probably on a ley line, I suspect. Which was why the Native Americans claim it to be a holy place for their people.
    Hope you get to see this some day, William!

  3. I was just here a day or two ago! Very interesting and beautiful!


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