This is the world's largest mountain carving that started in 1948 with an initial blast that took off just 10 tons. Since then millions of tons have been removed. An end date for the project has not been determined primarily because 100% of the funding is through private donations and admission fees.
The carving is intended to be a memorial to the spirit of the great Oglala Lakota (Sioux) leader, Crazy Horse, and his people. Here is a 1/34th scale model of the envisioned completed mountain carving.
Crazy Horse was born on Rapid Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota in about 1842. Under flag of truce while at Fort Robinson, NB, he was stabbed in the back by an American soldier and died September 6, 1877. He never signed a treaty or touched the pen, defending his people in the only way he knew. The carving represents his left hand thrown out pointing to the Black Hills in response to a derisive question asked by a white man, "Where are your lands now?" His response: "My lands are where my dead lie buried."
Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear learned of sculpture, Korczak Ziolkowski, born in Boston of Polish descendent. Orphaned at age one, he grew up in foster homes and was completely self-taught in art, sculpture, architecture, and engineering. His sculpture, Paderewski, won first prize at the 1939 World's Fair. Chief Standing Bear's letter to Korczak said, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, also." Since Korczak's death in 1982, his wife, Ruth and 7 of their 10 children worked with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation Board of Directors to continue the work on the carving.
Work is underway on the hand and then the horse's head. Here is an outline of what the completed project will look like.
The feather will be constructed from granite that is taken from the mountain during the carving of other portions of the sculpture.
The mission of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is:
- Continue progress on the world's largest sculptural undertaking (the memorial to Lakota leader Crazy Horse);
- Provide educational and cultural programs by acting as a repository for American Indian artifacts through the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Educational & Cultural Center;
- Establish and operate the Indian University of North America.
Photos of the Indian Museum of North America. This encompasses a huge collection of a wide array of artifacts. Impressive!
It is heartbreaking to learn of the horrific treatment of the Lakota people by the white man in the late 1800s. A famous quote by Red Cloud, 1891, "They made us many promises, more than I can remember. They never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it!"
Admission fee is $11 per person. Fee for bus to the base of the mountain carving is $4 per person. This is a large complex with the viewing patio, museum, sculpture's studio home, Native American artists creating artworks and crafts, as well as the visit to the mountain.
Additionally there is a laser light show during the season on Crazy Horse Mountain that is shown at 9:30 pm nightly. When visiting, you may obtain a free re-admission voucher to return to see the light show that is valid for 3 days.