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 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 8 miles (13 km) away from Crazy Horse Memorial. The Mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians.
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 Crazy Horse Memorial 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 Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is built on Korczak, Ruth & Chief Henry Standing Bears ideals of creating a memorial to honor the living heritage of the North American Indians. As a part of this foundation the Indian Museum of North American and the Native American Educational and Cultural Center were created.
These two museums feature American Indian art and artifacts from tribes across North America and offer the opportunity for guests to be hands on with "make & take" activities. In the summer guests enjoy visiting with Native American Artisans, watching American Indian dancers perform and learning more through their many lecture series.
Crazy Horse (1842-77) was a Native American war leader of the Oglala Lakota. He took up arms against the United States Federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including acting as a decoy in the Fetterman Massacre and leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June 1876. On January 8, 1877, Crazy Horse's warriors fought their last major battle at Wolf Mountain, against the US Cavalry in the Montana Territory. His people struggled through the winter, weakened by hunger and the long cold. Crazy Horse decided to surrender with his band to protect them, and went to Fort Robinson in Nebraska. Four months after surrendering to U.S. troops under General George Crook in May 1877, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a bayonet-wielding military guard, while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska. He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American tribal members and was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in 1982 with a 13¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.
Korczak Ziolkowski (1908-82) was the American designer and sculptor of the Crazy Horse Memorial. His sculpture of Ignacy Jan Paderewski won first prize at the New York World's Fair. The resulting fame, as well as his familiarity with the Black Hills, prompted several Lakota Chiefs to approach him about a monument honoring Crazy Horse. In 1947 Ziolkowski moved to the Black Hills and began to search for a suitable mountain for his sculpture. He thought the Wyoming Tetons would be the best choice, where the rock would be better for carving, but the Lakota wanted the memorial in the sacred Black Hills on a 600-foot (180 m)-high mountain. On June 3, 1948, the first blast was made, and the memorial was dedicated to the Native American people. In 1950, Ziolkowski and Ruth Ross, who had become a volunteer at the monument, were married. Work continued slowly, since he refused to accept government grants. Instead, as he personally stated on a guest appearance on the TV show "To Tell the Truth", he raised money for the project by charging seventy-five cents admission to the monument work area. Ziolkowski continued his work until he died of acute pancreatitis at age 74 at the monument site in 1982. He was buried in a tomb at the base of the mountain. After his death, his widow, Ruth Ziolkowski, took over the project as director of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. Ruth Ziolkowski died May 21, 2014, aged 87. All ten of his children have continued the carving of the monument or are active in the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.