I guess that just about everyone has heard of the Crazy Horse Memorial and wondered if it ever got finished. We decided to found out firsthand what all the fuss is about.
First stop is at the gate to pay--$5 for seniors. This price includes one free return visit within a week of your first visit.
First view of the monument from inside the grounds. Down the long road we rode until we came to the Memorial complex. Complex? Yup, there's more to this than a big rock face.
There are a series of interconnected buildings and outdoor areas in the complex, part of it shown here.
Orientation Center, Education and Conference Center, Indian Museum of North America, Mountain Displays and Rock Box, Mountain Carving Room, Native American Cultural Center (made from blast fragments), Bronze Showroom, Sculptor's Workshop, Sculptor's Log Studio Home, Restaurant, Snack Shop, Gift Shops, and Viewing Veranda. In addition to all of the buildings to tour, there are ongoing programs like American Indian artists demonstrating their crafts, a summer lecture series, annual events like the Volksmarch and the Rodeo and an art show, and nightly blasts and laser shows.
Gift Shops featuring Native made items.
The dream began in 1939 when Chief Henry Standing Bear asked artist and sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to come to the Black Hills of South Dakota and carve a mountain. "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white an to know the red man has great heroes, also." Korczak began the work in 1948 with only himself for a work force and $174. Crazy Horse was chosen to represent all Native American tribes because he was never known to sign a treaty or touch a pen. As such, he was also never photographed. Like a modern sketch artist, Korczak made a sketch of his face from descriptions of four chiefs that actually knew him. That is the face on the sculpture. His left hand is outstretched in answer to the derisive question asked by a white man, "Where are your lands now?' He replied "My Lands are where my dead lie buried." His hand points outward in general and in particular to the Pine Ridge Reservation. The work is taking so long because the chiefs refuse to accept any government funding. The site is managed by the non-profit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. All of the monies received are from donations and is put not only into the sculpture but also provides educational and cultural programming and education through the continued acquisition of American Indian artifacts, arts, and crafts, and by establishing and operation the Indian University of North America.
Because of all of these ongoing activities, the answer to the question, "Is it done yet?" is no.
In the Native American Museum and the Culture Center, all tribes from all parts of the US including Alaska were represented. Items on display included personal clothing and accessories, and all hand arts like mixed media sculpting,
dying and quill work,
beadwork and weaving (background, right),
Want a closer look at the sculpture? There are three ways to do that. One is to take a paid ride to the arm. You can stand face-to-face with Crazy Horse. Another way to the top is to join the (fundraiser) Volksmarch and hike up. The third way is what we opted to do--pay $4 to ride to the foot of the sculpture with a very informative bus driver. We were informed that the contraption on top of the head is a lightning rod. The granite hills are full of iron and the sculpture might get blasted someplace inopportune by lightning.
From this view you can see the outline of the hand with the pointing finger We were informed that the current work is being done on the finger tip. When that is finished, the work will continue down the front of the horse's head.
Some information that may interest you. I found it fascinating that the ears are 42 feet tall!
This provides an explanation of why the work proceeds so slowly and carefully.
I hope this blog prompts you to plan a visit to the Memorial. It is truly worth any time and effort it takes you to do so.
We have only a few more days in this area and a few more visits we plan to make. Stay tuned.
Louise and Duane