The World’s Largest Sculpture
Chief Crazy Horse Monument has been continually under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota since 1948. Chief Crazy Horse Memorial 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.” The construction is still in progress.
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
The Mount Rushmore Monument likely inspired the Chief Crazy Horse Monument. Native Indian Chief Henry Standing Bear wanted to publicly prove that Indian nations had their own heroes too. He wrote a letter to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski inquiring about his interest in creating a North American monument. Ziolkowski had previously worked on the Mount Rushmore Monument in 1924 under master sculptor Gutzon Borglum and had the experience needed to take on this new monumental project.
Location of Crazy Horse Monument
Crazy Horse Monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain, a place considered to be sacred ground by Native Americans. As you travel south along route 385 (on the southwest side of South Dakota), Thunderhead Mountain and Crazy Horse Memorial can be found almost mid-way between Hill City and Custer City. The location of Crazy Horse Monument in relation to Mount Rushmore is only about 8 miles away.
Size of Crazy Horse Monument
Once completed Chief Crazy Horse memorial dimensions are expected to be 641 feet (195 meters) wide and 563 feet (172 meters) tall, which would make the Chief Crazy Horse Monument the world’s largest mountain carving.
The Crazy Horse Monument will also be the world’s largest sculpture of the human head, measuring in at approximately 87 feet tall. In comparison, the heads of the US Presidents carved into Mount Rushmore Monument are approximately 60 feet tall.
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 mountain carving 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 Ziolkowski and his successors have politely declined.
When Ziolkowski passed away in 1982, the non-profit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation took over the project and to this day continues to honor Ziolkowski’s intentions to keep funding for the project private while striving for higher educational and cultural goals within their communities. Ziolkowski’s wife Ruth oversees all work on the Crazy Horse Monument with the help of the foundation and their 10 children. Essentially, the foundation collects funds to continue with its project through visitor fees, with more than a million guests visiting each year.
The completion and dedication of the face of Chief Crazy horse occurred in 1998, fifty years after the very first blasting of rock. At this point in time there is still no estimated completion date for the rest of the monument.
Chief Crazy Horse Volksmarch
Each year, the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation hosts many educational, social and cultural events.
For the last 30 years they have organized an Annual Spring Volksmarch where the public is invited to hike 6.2 miles through the Black Hills woodlands to see the actual sculpture in progress up close. This is a very popular event with up 15,000 guests in attendance each year. In 2013, an Annual Fall Volksmarch was introduced, giving guests a second opportunity to hike up to the monument. This is the most popular organized hike in the United States.
Crazy Horse Monument Controversy
There is plenty of controversy to go along with the Chief Crazy Horse South Dakota monument. During his life Crazy Horse did not want his picture taken and following his death, his body was placed in an unnamed location. As such, the Chief Crazy Horse monument is sculpted in likeness of him and is dedicated to both the spirit of Crazy Horse and to all Native Americans.
While Lakota (Indian) Chief Henry Standing Bear acknowledged the sincerity of Chief Crazy Horse’s motives, many Native Americans are still against the construction of this memorial. Some of the people who knew the history of Crazy Horse have likened the monument to a “pollution and desecration of the landscape.”
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