Sunday, August 23, 2009

South Dakota – Crazy Horse Memorial

About 8 miles south of Mt. Rushmore is the Crazy Horse Memorial. The two projects couldn’t be more different. Back in the 1920’s as the discussion and work on Mt. Rushmore began, the Lakota Indians (then know as the Sioux Indians) were outraged that their scared Black Hills would be defaced. In the non-politically correct days of the 1920’s, no one really cared what the Indians thought. In 1939, Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Lakota, wrote Korczak Ziółkowski, a well  known sculptor that was working with Gutzon Borglum at Mt. Rushmore. He said, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too.” He was proposing a monument to honor all Native Americans.

Ziolkowski started working on plans for the sculpture, however, work stopped during World War II, while Ziółkowski was in the Army. In 1947 Korczak Ziółkowski returned to the Black  Hills to take up the Crazy Horse sculpture. The Lakota Elders wanted the memorial in the sacred Black Hills.

Mt. Rushmore was federally funded from the very beginning, when in 1925 Congress authorized the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Commission. The Crazy Horse Memorial accepts no government money, they have even turned down millions of dollars in Federal Funding.

When Gutzon Borglum began work on Mt. Rushmore he had 100’s of workers. In 1947 when Korczak Ziółkowski began working on the Crazy Horse Memorial, he worked alone. Work continued slowly as donations of money and equipment would permit. As Korczak Ziółkowski worked on the memorial, his wife, Ruth, took care of their children and the tourists coming to see the project. As the 10 children grew, they were added to the work crew. Korczak Ziółkowski continued to work on the Crazy Horse Memorial until his death in 1982. At that time his wife and 7 of his 10 children took over and still run the project today. They continue to fund the project from donations and entrance fees to see the work completed some day. Currently they receive over a million visitors a year.

The model of the finished sculpture

The picture with work superimposed on to the mountain.

The monument is to be the largest sculpture in the world. If it is completed, it will be 563 feet high, by 641 feet long. Crazy Horse’s head will be large enough to contain all of the 60 foot high heads of the Presidents at Mt. Rushmore. Since they have  been working on it for 62 years and have only completed the head of Crazy Horse I don’t like my chances of seeing it completed.

In 1939, Ziółkowski's marble sculpture of Ignacy Jan Paderewski won first prize at the New York World's Fair.


Bronze sculptures by Korczak Ziółkowski

Yes, we were really there (Crazy Horse is in the background)

More pictures in the slideshow


  1. I've always wanted to see this!

    I like Grant's idea of cropping half of his body out of the picture...body-sculpting at its best!
    Hugs and rubs to Raider!

  2. How cool is that?!!! Someday I hope to visit Mt. Rushmore, too. Crazy Horse will be a stop included on that trip, I'm sure of it. Love your pics. You guys are quite good! Can't wait to see more of your trip!

  3. Hi Kathy and Grant,
    Each time I look at your pictures I think oh these are the best but then you post more and no they are the best. So from now on I'm just expecting GREATNESS each time. No pressure. Sculptures are beautiful and the picture of you two very handsome too.

  4. This is really fun and informative.

    I'm blown away by this guy deciding he's just going to go do this on his own.

  5. I love it!!! I hope that they are able to finish it soon!!!

  6. when is the estimated time when it might be finised? I know it probably depends on donations. Hey maybe Bill Gates will help?

  7. They have been working on it for over 60 years and are not even half way done. We didn't hear or reading anything about an estimated completion date.

  8. I was told with the right help and total and complete independent donations and aid necessary for the completion of the project, it will take between 2035~40 to complete... They have donations enough for the next 4 years of construction and sculpting. This includes the complex planned, surrounding the monument itself. From the time of this post March 2013.