Crazy Horse Monument

The Black Hills of South Dakota, on US Highway 16/385 just 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore history is being created. They are building the Crazy Horse Monument, the most enthralling sculpture in the world. It was the year 1948 when the work of building the monument began.

Korczak Ziolkowski, was the sculptor who began the work on the request of the Native Americans. However, his unfortunate demise fortunately did not bring a halt to his constructive attempt. His wife Ruth with the help of the entire family successfully carried on Korczak’s constructive attempts in collaboration with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.

What has made the construction of crazy horse so successful? The success of the work entirely depends on sheer private investments and donations. What does the sculpture of the crazy horse represent? The sculpture represents what Crazy Horse felt when he rode through his kingdom: “my lands are where my dead lie buried”. This art of sculpting is both historically and culturally significant. The passion and the zeal with which Korczak gave form to the monument of Crazy Horse is enough to depict the sincerity and dedication of Crazy Horse towards his people.

However, why has Crazy Horse been chosen as the subject matter of the sculpture? For the Lakota Sioux Indians Crazy Horse was a hero. He was indeed a great soldier and was noted for his far sightedness and visionary powers. He was a benevolent warrior and people loved him. However, he could not travel long in his life’s journey for he was stabbed to death by an American soldier. Quite ironically, when he died he was standing under a truce flag in Nebraska. In his lifetime, Crazy Horse never allowed anyone to take his photograph but after his death sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski decided to immortalize this great personality through his world-renowned sculpture.

In the year 1939, Korczak Ziolkowski received an invitation from the Lakota chiefs to make their dream come true. This was the beginning, Korczak collected vital information on Crazy Horse from the Lakota Chief Standing Bear and successively chose a 600 feet site called Thunderhead Mountain in 1946 for the sculpture. The work started subsequently and Korczak meticulously started building his dream, step by step.

Firstly, he drilled holes up to 35 feet in order to perforate the rocks and laid down the cords to trigger the blasts. Then, he drilled the sculpture in details and made use of a finishing torch to make the rock more smooth and shinny. After more than four decades of tears and toils, the initial stage of the sculpture was revealed.

The monument of the Crazy Horse is undoubtedly one of the most exciting tourists sites of the world. The amount of cash being collected from the sightseers is being utilized for three specific causes, which are noble as well as constructive, like:

  • Maintenance of the University of North America
  • Supervision of the Indian Museum of North America
  • Providing training to the North American Indian students of the Medical Training Center 

However, the primary cause of this tourist collection is the successful ongoing process of the sculptural work of the monument of the Crazy Horse.

Remember one thing – anything great takes time to reveal, but once revealed never gets erased. The achievements and valor of Crazy Horse would have been a history without the earnest attempts and desires of the Lakota chiefs and the famous sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. In reality, Crazy Horse Monument is a tribute to the spirit of freedom.

Joseph Paige 2006

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