Crazy Horse Memorial
Category: South Dakota
The Crazy Horse Memorial is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is close to highway 16. It is being built on private land in Custer County, South Dakota.
When completed, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be larger than Mount Rushmore. When finished, it will be the world’s largest mountain carving.
It is 564 feet or 172 meters long. It is planned to be 641 feet long and 563 feet high when completed. How big is that? The head of Crazy Horse on the monument would be large enough to contain all of the heads on Mount Rushmore. The completed sculpture would be taller top to bottom than the Washington Monument.
History of the Crazy Horse Memorial
In 1939, Korczak Ziolkowski arrived in South Dakota to help with the creation of Mount Rushmore. Chief Standing Bear read about this sculpture and asked for assistance in creating a monument to Native Americans. In 1947, Korczak Ziolkowski returned to the area to help with such a monument. In 1950, Korczak Ziolkowski married Ruth Ross. They had ten children, six of whom still worked on the project in some capacity in 2010.
Construction started in 1948; the first blast removed ten tons of rock. When the construction was started on June 3, 1948, five survivors of the Battle of Little Bighorn were present. Note that the Battle of the Little Bighorn occurred between June 25th and June 26th in 1876.
Controlled blasts today remove 700 tons of rock. Crazy Horse’s face has been completed already. That was finished in 1998. Work on his outstretched arm, pointing finger, horse’s head and the rest of the horse is ongoing. The completed memorial is intended to show a mounted Crazy Horse on his steed pointing the way. A poem by Korczak Ziolkowski will be carved into the mountain in three foot tall letters.
About the Battle of Little Bighorn
Crazy Horse led his tribe many times before dying in 1877. He is most famous for his victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn.
Crazy Horse and Chief Gall were involved in the Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand. The Battle of the Little Bighorn was a resounding victory of the Lakota, Arapaho and Northern Cheyenne tribes. Custer’s failing was relying on estimates of 800 warriors based on how many followers Sitting Bull had. He did not realize that there were thousands more who had left their reservations to join Sitting Bull. When he was told by scouts that they’d never seen an Indian camp that big (indicating thousands of people, not hundreds), he ignored that information and chose to attack anyway. Another mistake Custer made was trying to ensure Native Americans didn’t escape instead of achieving a military victory, causing him to lose men in chases with little strategic value that put them in undue risk. Another mistake he made was seeking to take the village filled with women and children, hoping to force the men to surrender that way. When Custer sent two groups to attack the encampment, hundreds of warriors encountered Keogh’s group. Custer was close to the village when repulsed by overwhelming numbers.
The Crazy Horse Memorial, though incomplete, still sees a million visitors a year. This is in part because it is also the home of the Indian Museum of North American and a cultural center.
The memorial runs off donations and admission fees. It does not accept federal funding. This is in part due to Korczak Ziolkowski's negative experience with the federal government while working on Mt. Rushmore.
The memorial hosts Native American Day celebrations.