Will the Memorial to Crazy Horse Ever Be Finished?

Christine Crowley By Christine Crowley, 7th Nov 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>United States>South Dakota

The carving of the memorial to Chief Crazy Horse has been underway since 1948. Will it ever be done?

Crazy Horse

Ziolkowski began carving the Crazy Horse monument seven years
after the completion of Rushmore.

Chief Henry Standing Bear, then-leader of the Lakota tribe, didn't like the four huge American faces peering over his people's land, so he asked Ziolkowski if he could carve a monument in honor of a Native American legend.

"My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also," Standing Bear wrote in a 1939 letter to Ziolkowski.

In 1948 Ziolkowski started carving the memorial to Chief Crazy Horse. The memorial is still not finished - namely because it doesn't have a deadline. Work on the memorial is hindered by lightning storms, snow, and a high content of iron which makes carving difficult.

Crazy Horse is best know for leading his warriors against General Custar at the Battle of the Big Horn. Where is died is a bit of controvery as well as how he looked. No photographs were taken of this indian chief.

Ziolkowski died at the age of 84, in 1982, but asked that his wife and children finish the memorial. His children have continued carving the mountain using donations and admission fees for the Indian Museum.

The Indian Museum of North America, contains more than 11,000 historic and contemporary objects and artworks from tribal groups; the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, which houses a collection of historic prints, numerous regional artifacts and some hands-on activity displays; and the recently opened Indian University of North America, which partners with the University of South Dakota and offers courses in Native American studies.

After 50 years of work, Crazy Horse's 87-foot head was completed in 1998, and work is presently being done to finish 219-foot-tall head of the Native American warrior's steed, according to the Ziolkowskis.

When and if it's complete, the entire monument will be 641 feet wide. In terms of size, Mount Rushmore, just 17 miles away, has four 60-foot heads, all of which can fit inside the lone head of Crazy Horse.

Crazy Horse died after being captured by enemy soldiers. As with most Crazy Horse-related lore, the exact time and manner of death are disputed, and even a highway sign near Wounded Knee, South Dakota, lists four possible resting places.

If you ever find yourself in South Dakota, a stop to see this monument is a "must see".

Happy traveling!


Black Hills, Crazy Horse, Memorial To Crazy Horse, South Dakota, Travel, United States

Meet the author

author avatar Christine Crowley
I am retired from a community college and working part-time. I've always loved to write and find it rewarding.

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author avatar Judy Ellen
8th Nov 2012 (#)

Wow! This is something I would have never guessed! No time limit!! Interesting!!

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author avatar Christine Crowley
8th Nov 2012 (#)

Thank you for commenting, Judy. This was so much fun to write!

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author avatar Buzz
21st Nov 2012 (#)

A great native American hero. Great share, Christine.

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