Published on March 10, 2011 by Amy
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Crazy Horse Monument
The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota, in the form of Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance. The memorial was commissioned by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear to be sculpted by Korczak Ziółkowski.
The memorial consists of the mountain carving (monument), the Indian Museum of North America, and the Native American Cultural Center. The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain on land considered sacred by some Native Americans, between Custer and Hill City, roughly 17 miles away from Mount Rushmore.
The sculpture’s final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet (195 m) wide and 563 feet (172 m) high. The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 feet (27 m) high; by comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet (18 m) high.
The monument has been in progress since 1948 and is still far from completion. If completed, it may become the world’s largest sculpture, as well as the first non-religious statue to hold this record since 1967; the last being Russia’s Mamayev Monument.
The mountain carving was begun in 1948 by a Polish American sculptor Korczak Ziółkowski, who had worked on Mount Rushmore under Gutzon Borglum in 1924. In 1939, Ziolkowski had received a letter from Chief Henry Standing Bear, which stated in part “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too.” Chief Henry Standing Bear and sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski scouted potential monument sites together. Ziolkowski wanted to carve the memorial in the Wyoming Tetons where the rock was better for sculpting, but the Sioux leaders insisted it be carved in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota.
The memorial is a non-profit undertaking, and receives no federal or state funding. Ziolkowski was offered $10 million from the federal government on two occasions, but he turned the offers down. Ziolkowski felt the project was more than just a mountain carving, and he feared that his plans for the broader educational as well as cultural goals for the memorial would be left behind with federal involvement.
Ziolkowski died in 1982. The entire complex is owned by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. Ziolkowski’s wife Ruth and their ten children remain closely involved with the work, which has no fixed completion date. The face of Crazy Horse was completed and dedicated in 1998.