3 June 2008


Model with carving in the background.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain monument 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 consists of the mountain carving (monument), the Indian Museum of North America, and the Native American Cultural Centre. The monument is being carved out of Thunderhead Mountain on land considered sacred by some Native Americans, between Custer and Hill City, roughly 8 miles (13 km) away from Mount Rushmore.The sculpture's final dimensions will 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 Mt. Rushmore are each 60 feet (18 m) high.The monument has been in progress since 1948 and is still far from completion. If finished, it will be the world's largest sculpture. The mountain carving was begun in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, who had worked on Mt. Rushmore under Gutzon Borglum. 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."

Ziolkowski died in 1982. The entire complex is owned by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. Ziolkowski's wife Ruth and several children remain closely involved with the work, which has no fixed completion date. The face of Crazy Horse was completed and dedicated in 1998.

Even though it is far from complete the Crazy Horse carving has become the central focus of a lucrative tourist trade with some 1.2 million visitors arriving at the site each year. The Ziolkowski family continue to laugh all the way to the bank. How many more years before the carving is finished? Some say twenty five years, while others say - never!


  1. Howdy,

    I've been to both Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument as one of the many tourists you mention (driving across country and taking the scenic route from one job in Seattle to another in upstate in New York) and the weird thing about the Crazy Horse monument is that although it would be huge if it were ever realized, it's quite possible to drive past it and not even notice it, if not for the hordes of card queuing up to pay the exorbitant entrance fee. Mt. Rushmore tends to sneak up on you and -- again like many monuments -- is much smaller than you think it's supposed to be.

    Are you planning a trip to South Dakota, or is this post an homage to the last primary of the U.S. election?

  2. Interesting, without that entry I would never have known that Native Americans had anything like this.

  3. I remember seeing the model and information about it in a "Wonders of the World" book I had when I was about eight. I didn't realise it wasn't finished! And still isn't. I wish all the things I've started and not finished were quietly making me money... Like, that quilted jacket, the native plant propagation course, um, the steps down the bank ... Do you think people would pay to see them?

  4. Goddess, that was one long drive, I hope you stopped off in Ohio for a while. Much more interesting than the Badlands of South Dakota!

  5. GODDESS - I just got interested in the Crazy Horse monument because my daughter told me about it. Her degree will be in American Studies. We might put you under the microscope and study you Goddess! What would we see?
    DAVID - Yeah! Ihad never heard about it either.
    KATHERINE - No I do not think people would pay to see your unfinished projects but Oxfam might take some of them off your hands.

  6. If she needs to study an American, I know tons of them and they're all facsinating!

  7. GODDESS - Don't ya mean faTscinating?

  8. I've been there. It's awesome (in the proper sense of the word). Hadn't thought about the family making much money from it; the entrance charge is high - but so are the running costs! 1.2m visitors works out at more than 3,000 a day but when I was there, it wasn't crowded at all. If memory serves, the original sculptor went up there with just a hammer and chisel, and lived a pretty austere life with his large family.


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