Published on March 10, 2011 by Amy
The memorial is to be the icon of a huge educational/cultural center that will include the University and Medical Training Center for the North American Indian and the Indian Museum of North America. The current visitor complex will anchor the center. In 2007 a 2.5 million dollar donation was received to be used for the university. Ground was broken in 2009 on a new residence hall and classroom building – the university was opened with 21 students in 2010. The university was designed as a satellite of the University of South Dakota and teaches math, English and American Indian studies courses that provide college credit as well as outreach classes. Over 1.2 million dollars in scholarships have been awarded with the majority going to Native students within South Dakota.
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The foundation sponsors Native American cultural events and educational programs. Annually in June, the Memorial hosts a Volksmarch, which is the only time that the public is permitted onto the mountain. Attendance has grown to as many as 15,000.
Much of the earth-moving equipment used is donated by corporations. The work on the monument has been primarily supported by visitor fees, with more than one million people visiting annually. One feature of the visitor center is a large container of rocks blasted from the mountain: Visitors may take these with them in exchange for a small donation.
The Memorial began its first national fund drive in October 2006. The goal was to raise $16.5 million by 2011. The first planned project was a $1.4 million dormitory to house 40 American Indian students who would work at the memorial.
Periodically there are blasting events. These are attended by thousands of people from all over the region. People wait for hours as the clock counts down, the gala ending in the spectacle of a huge number of near-simultaneous detonations, and a great tumbling of rocks and dust down the mountain.
Crazy Horse resisted being photographed, and was deliberately buried where his grave would not be found. Ziolkowski, however, envisioned the monument as a metaphoric tribute to the spirit of Crazy Horse and Native Americans. “My lands are where my dead lie buried,” supposedly said by Crazy Horse, is the intended interpretation of the monument’s expansive gesture.
Some traditional Lakota and Native Americans oppose this memorial. In a 2001 interview, the activist and actor Russell Means stated his objections to the memorial: “Imagine going to the holy land in Israel, whether you’re a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim, and start carving up the mountain of Zion. It’s an insult to our entire being.” In a 1972 autobiography, Lame Deer, a Lakota medicine man, said: “The whole idea of making a beautiful wild mountain into a statue of him is a pollution of the landscape. It is against the spirit of Crazy Horse.”
Other groups object to the pose of the statue. Pointing with the finger is uncommon amongst indigenous Americans, and is usually considered impolite.