The day after our bike ride we returned to Crazy Horse Memorial, this time for a better look and understanding of the project.
This was an enjoyable day! In addition to the actual memorial, there is much to see at the Crazy Horse Memorial.
The American Indian museum of North America, the Mountain Carving room, Korczak Ziolkowski’s original hand built home and studio and the Native American Educational & Cultural center are just a few of the other sights to see.
This is an incredible story about 3 men! Two Native American Oglala Lakota chiefs – Crazy Horse, a war leader, who wanted nothing more than peace for all people and Henry Standing Bear -(who by the way, was one of the first Native Americans to attend the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania), determined to keep his people’s culture and traditions alive forever. And a white man, Korczak Ziolkowski, who had an incredible skill and dedication to preserve the culture and heritage of the Black Hills and it’s Lakota people.
A few interesting facts –
- Crazy Horse Memorial is the world’s largest Mountain Carving in progress.
- Korczak Ziolkowski worked briefly as an assistant to Gutzon Borglum carving Mount Rushmore National Memorial in the Black Hills.
- Crazy Horse was not originally named Crazy Horse. He happened to start out in this world as “Curly”, aptly named this because he had wavy hair. He would be called Curly until he earned his father’s name, Tasunka Witco (Crazy Horse), by proving himself in battle.
- Crazy Horse defended his people and their way of life in the only manner he knew, but only after he saw the treaty of 1868 broken. This treaty, signed by the President of the United States said “As long as the rivers run and the grasses grow and trees bear leaves, Paha Sapa, the Black Hills, will forever and ever be the sacred land of the Indians.” He took to the warpath only after he saw his friend Conquering Bear killed; only after he saw the failure of the government agents to bring required treaty guarantees such as meat, clothing, tents and necessities for existence. In battle the Sioux leader would rally his warriors with the cry, “It is a good day to fight-it is a good day to die.”
While visiting we ate lunch at the Laughing Waters restaurant on site, which was very pretty! I had the Native American taco and Kevin had Tatanka(Buffalo) stew. Both were delicious!
We went back to the Crazy Horse Memorial on the evening of September 6th for the traditionally held night blast. Our friends from Lebanon Jim & Vicki Garrett, went along with us. They are full-time Rvers’ also, and they are workkamping in Rapid City, SD since April.
The night blasts are only performed twice a year. The spectacular ceremony lights up the mountain with incredible fireballs and are especially designed pyrotechnical features. We tried to get some good pictures, but it was pretty difficult, so I borrowed one. The Mountain Crew designed the blast, lasting 79.5 seconds, captured in this photo with long-exposure photography.
The Mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians.
The Foundation demonstrates its commitment to this endeavor by following these objectives:
- Continuing the progress on the world’s largest sculptural undertaking by carving a Memorial of Lakota leader Crazy Horse
- Providing educational and cultural programming to encourage harmony and reconciliation among all people and nations
- Acting as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts and crafts through the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® and the NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER®
- Establishing and operating the INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA®, and when practical, a medical training center for American Indians
Crazy Horse Memorial does not accept federal or state money for this project. Instead it is financed by admission fees and contributions only. This massive rock carving is not complete and there is no “completion” date scheduled. The memorial is open year round and is host to a “million visitors” per year.
I encourage you to visit the Crazy Horse memorial website, to learn about this incredible story and continued mission. If you are ever in the Black Hills in South Dakota this stop is a must!