More than six decades after Polish sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began carving Chief Crazy Horse Memorial in 1948, the monument is still under construction.
Crazy Horse monument depicts chief Crazy Horse mounted on his horse with his left arm outstretched, pointing at the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. The face of chief Crazy Horse was completed about ten years ago. Current efforts are now focused on revealing the planned horse’s head.
To date, the complete Crazy Horse monument project has been funded primarily through donations and by charging a small admission to the site. Even though the federal government offered to fund Ziolkowski’s Crazy Horse Memorial on two separate occasions, Ziolkowski and his successors gracefully declined the funding, preferring instead to keep the project non-profit.
Ziolkowski labored on the Crazy Horse monument until his death in 1982. Today, along with operating the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, Ziolkowski’s widow Ruth, and seven of his ten children are involved in the ongoing work at Crazy Horse monument.
Korczak Ziolkowski & Crazy Horse
Korczak Ziolkowski was a well known Polish sculpture. In the early 1940’s a number of Lakota Indian Chiefs approached Ziolkowski about creating a sculpture that could be dedicated to all North American native people. They wanted a sculpture similar to Mount Rushmore, except that it would be a monument to honor Native Americans and to show that the Native Americans also have their share of heroes.
Ziolkowski chose to create the Crazy Horse monument at Thunderhead Mountain, in the sacred Black Hills that is part of the Native North American heritage. Crazy Horse monument is less than ten miles away from Mount Rushmore and is situated between Hill City and Custer.
Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse
Chief Crazy Horse was a South Dakota Lokata Sioux war leader who fought in the Black Hills War of the late 1800’s against the US government in order to protect his people’s land and way of life. In June of 1876 Chief Crazy Horse teamed up with fellow war chief “Sitting Bull” in the Battle of Little Bighorn in eastern Montana. The battle was a great success for Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and has since become infamous as “Custer’s Last Stand”.
Size of Crazy Horse Monument
Crazy Horse monument is carved in the likeness of chief Crazy Horse himself and when completed it will be the largest man-made sculpture in the world. The final sculpture is envisioned to be 641ft wide and a staggering 563ft in height. The site is also home to the Native American Cultural Center and the Indian Museum of North America.
The public has access to the Crazy Horse monument only at the time of the Volksmarch which takes place in June each year. Nearly 15,000 attend the event and the number is growing with every successive year.
One of the most interesting events to take place at the Crazy Horse Memorial site is the blasting of the rock from time to time. There are many spectators at these events waiting patiently while counting down to the blast to witness the falling of tons of rock and dust as it cascades down to the ground from the mountain high above. Many of the one million plus visitors that visit Crazy Horse monument annually actually take pieces of the rock as mementos, which are generally obtained by giving a small donation towards the completion of the project.
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