Chief Crazy Horse Monument

(Editor’s Note – This original post from April 2010 has been updated to reflect current Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore vacation details.)

The World’s Largest Sculpture – Still in Progress

Continually under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota since 1948, Chief Crazy Horse Monument is a mountain sculpture dedicated to Chief Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota (Sioux Indian) warrior.

Once completed, the Crazy Horse South Dakota monument will depict the upper torso of Chief Crazy Horse mounted on his horse, with his arm outstretched and pointing towards the “land of his ancestors.”

Who Was Chief Crazy Horse?

Chief Crazy Horse and Chief Sitting Bull have gone down in history as the leaders of the Sioux uprising that defeated General Custer in the Battle of Little Big Horn, otherwise known as “Custer’s Last Stand.”

The Crazy Horse mountain memorial includes:

  • Chief Crazy Horse Monument
  • Native American Cultural Center
  • The Indian Museum of North America
  • Crazy Horse Monument History

In 1924, Crazy Horse Monument sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski had worked under master sculptor Gutzon Borglum on the Mount Rushmore memorial. Ziolkowski was inspired to create the Crazy Horse Monument after receiving a letter from native Indian Chief Henry Standing Bear. Chief Standing Bear asked if Ziolkowski would be interested in creating a monument for the native North Americans, to show that the Indian nations also have their heroes.

Location of Crazy Horse Monument

The Native Americans consider Thunderhead Mountain, where the Crazy Horse monument is being carved, to be sacred ground. Thunderhead Mountain is situated between Custer City and Hill City. The location of Crazy Horse Monument in relation to Mount Rushmore is only about 8 miles away.

Size of Crazy Horse Monument

The finished dimensions of the Crazy Horse memorial are expected to be approximately 641 feet (195 meters) wide and 563 feet (172 meters tall). When the Crazy Horse Monument is finished, the head of Chief Crazy Horse will be the world’s largest sculpture of the human head measuring approximately 87 feet (27 meters) tall; more than 27 feet taller than the 60 foot faces of the US Presidents carved in the side of Mount Rushmore.

One of the most interesting facts about the Crazy Horse Monument is that upon completion, Chief Crazy Horse Monument will be the largest sculpture in the world.

Completion of Crazy Horse Monument

Perhaps the most common question asked is, “When will Crazy Horse Monument be finished?” No one is really sure. The blasting continues and the memorial is a work in progress, dependent upon donations and private funding only. Although the US Government has offered to help fund the construction of the Chief Crazy Horse Monument on several occasions, artist and sculptor Korczak Ziokowski and his successors have politely declined.

Since Ziokowski’s death in 1982, the project has been under the direction of the non-profit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, which has chosen to honor Korczak Ziokowski intentions at aiming for higher educational and cultural goals by keeping the funding of the project private. With the help of the foundation, the work continues and is overseen by Ziolkowski’s wife Ruth, and their 10 children. There is no target completion date at this time however, in 1998, the face of Crazy Horse was completed and dedicated.

The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation regularly takes the lead in cultural, social and educational events. There is the Volksmarch, the occasion where the public is allowed into the actual monument grounds. Visitors and enthusiasts to this event have grown to 15,000 annually. Basically, the foundation generates its funds by its visitor fees with visitors numbering to more than a million yearly.

Crazy Horse Monument Controversy

The Crazy Horse South Dakota monument has also had its share of controversy. The sculpted likeness of Chief Crazy Horse is dedicated to the spirit of Crazy Horse and all Native Americans, since it is well known that Crazy Horse did not want to be photographed during his lifetime and he is reportedly buried in an undisclosed location.

While Lakota (Indian) Chief Henry Standing Bear believed in the sincerity of the motives, a lot of Native Americans are still against this memorial. Some of the people who knew the history of Crazy Horse likened the monument to a pollution and desecration of the landscape (and environment) of the national park and its vicinity.

Included with Mt Rushmore & Yellowstone Tour

Chief Crazy Horse monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota is included in the fully escorted, all inclusive Mount Rushmore tour by Caravan Tours.

Visit Caravan’s Mount Rushmore tour reviews page to read what others have said this exceptionally priced all-inclusive US travel tour. For more tour information or to book a vacation with Caravan Tours at 1-800-CARAVAN (227-2826).