Today's post is on Crazy Horse Memorial, the world’s largest mountain sculpture, located here in the Black Hills about 10 miles outside of Custer. If you are a local & have visited a dozen times in the past you may want to skip today's post. But many of our family & friends will never get to experience this wonderful memorial, so, I'm going to elaborate on it a bit :)
Crazy Horse Memorial has a 40,000-square-foot welcome center with two theatres, and is home to the Native American Educational and Cultural Center, and the Indian Museum of North America. Also on site are Ziolkowski’s log home studio and workshop, indoor and outdoor art galleries, and the museum gift shop.
Sixty-seven years after Ziolkowski began carving Crazy Horse Memorial, work progresses on the world's largest mountain sculpture. Today, seven of Ziolkowski’s children and his widow Ruth continue with Korczac’s dream of completing the memorial. When finished, the memorial will be 641 feet long—nearly the length of two football fields—and 563 feet high. The face of Crazy Horse, measuring 87.5 feet high, was completed in 1998. By comparison, the heads of the four U.S. Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet high and the entire carving of Mount Rushmore could fit in the area of Crazy Horse’s face and flowing hair! They are currently removing the rock to craft the hand which will be about 25 feet tall. The extended left index finger, resting on the horse’s mane for stability, will be nearly 29 ½ feet long. The horse’s head, when completed, will be 219 feet tall. That is taller than the statue of Liberty from base to torch!
We see progress every time we visit although many would say they aren't moving fast enough. With no federal funding it is & will continue to be a lengthy process, certainly not finished in our lifetime! When Korczak died on October 20, 1982, his parting words to his wife were, "You must work on the mountain -- but go slowly so you do it right." We think they are indeed, 'doin' it right'!
More than 1.2 million people visit Crazy Horse Memorial each year. Many visitors, like us, make the pilgrimage annually to observe the progression of the carving. Each June visitors to the site can participate in the Crazy Horse Volksmarch. The Volksmarch is an organized 6.2-mile wilderness hike through the surrounding areas of the site, with Crazy Horse’s outstretched arm as the turn-around point of the hike. Crazy Horse Volksmarch is the only time of the year when visitors are permitted to walk at the carving site. The Volksmarch draws approximately 15,000 participants each year, and claims that is the most popular organized hike in the U.S.
After viewing the film & visiting the memorial for a couple of hours, Dick & Lou, Beverly and Larry & I headed back to the car to get our chairs set up for the laser-light storytelling "Legends in Light", a program that uses an 8,800-watt stereo system, twenty five 2,000-watt lights and three of the world's largest slide projectors. Presented nightly, at dark, from Memorial Day weekend through Native Americans’ Day in October, this laser-light show effectively turns the mountainside into a giant 500-foot “screen” for the spectacular display.
I attempted to get a few pics of some of the images 'shown' on the mountainside but they are very difficult to capture. They aren't there for long & they don't photograph nearly as vividly as they look to the naked eye. But, I'll share a few in part two of my Crazy Horse post so you can get a general idea. Hope you aren't too disappointed, like I said, very hard to capture!
P.S. In case you aren't familiar with Crazy Horse, a bit of info for you. Crazy Horse is perhaps most famous for defeating General George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. A brilliant military tactician, Crazy Horse never lost a battle. Ironically, he was killed not in war, but while parlaying with the U.S. Army. In the middle of a truce, a scuffle broke out and a soldier stabbed Crazy Horse in the back. The Sioux leader remains a symbol to his people of a courageous warrior, a man who never compromised his values. He is a hero not only because of his skill in battle, but also because of his character and his loyalty to his people. He is remembered for how he cared for the elderly, the ill, the widowed and the children. His dedication to his personal vision caused him to devote his life to serving his people and to preserving their valued culture.
In 1939, Henry Standing Bear, an Oglala chief, wrote to Korczak Ziolkowski, a sculptor who had assisted in carving the Presidential faces on Mount Rushmore. Standing Bear invited him to build a monument to Crazy Horse. "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes too," he wrote. Indian representatives were adamant that a home for the monument be found in the Black Hills - sacred land of their people.
Accepted Standing Bear's invitation and with his own savings, Ziolkowski obtained a special permit that allowed him to stake a mining claim on a mountain in the Black Hills. On June 3, 1948, with 5 survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn attending the ceremonies, Ziolkowski watched as Standing Bear and South Dakota Gov. George T. Mickelson set off the first charge of dynamite. The sculptor and the Indian chief had launched a dream.
Well, that's it for now. I am sharing too many pics for just one post so please check back tomorrow for part two. And once again, thanks for stopping by!