The Crazy Horse Memorial, in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, memorializes Oglala Lakota warrior Crazy Chief. The project is funded by private donation, not the government, and has taken almost 100 years.
- In 1931, Luther Standing Bear wrote a letter to Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor of the presidents at Mount Rushmore, asking him to include a portrait of Crazy Horse. He said he wanted white men to know that red men had heroes too. Borglum never answered the letter.
- Lakota Elder Henry Standing Bear and his brother Luther kept trying. They contacted Korczak Ziolkowski, a Polish sculptor who had worked under Borglum. He agreed to help them with the sculpture of Crazy Horse.
- His design called for a huge sculpture. Crazy Horse’s head is 87 feet tall, while the men’s heads depicted at Mount Rushmore are only 60 feet tall.
- Although the U.S. government offered more than $10 million on two occasions to fund the project, Ziolkowski turned the money down. He was afraid the government would take control of the project.
- The project has been funded by private donations from wealthy individuals, as well as sales from the gift shop and visitors’ center.
- Henry Standing Bear traded 900 acres of fertile land to the U.S. government through the Department of the Interior for the barren mountain where the sculpture is carved.
- When Ziolkowski died in 1982, his widow Ruth kept the project going, along with seven of her 10 children. Today Monique Ziolkowski, the couple’s daughter and a sculptor, continues the project with two of her siblings and other family members.
- Some members of the Oglala Lakota tribe are unhappy with the sculpture. They say that Crazy Horse refused to have his photo taken and would not have liked it. They also believe that carving into the mountain top defaces their sacred ancestral land.
Questions and Answers
Question: What does the sculpture look like?
Answer: The sculpture depicts Crazy Horse on horseback pointing into the distance.
Visit the Crazy Horse Memorial website.