Saturday, September 18, 2010

Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills of South Dakota

Next on the agenda was Crazy Horse Memorial.  It is a mountain monument under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota and shows Crazy Horse riding a horse and pointing in the distance.  

What it should look like when completed.

When the first white settlers came from Europe in 1607 and again in 1620, they faced difficult problems -- starvation, pestilence, strenuous climates and a turbulent relationship with Native Americans.  As European Americans pushed further into the West, the American Indians were forced out of their homelands.  During that time, treaty after treaty with the Indians was broken.  One such treaty promised that as long as the rivers flowed, the grass grew and the trees bore leaves, the Black Hills of South Dakota would forever be the sacred land of the Indians.  The Lakota leader -- Crazy Horse -- saw his people ravaged, promises broken and their way of life destroyed.  Crazy Horse never surrendered and proved himself to be a mighty warrior.  At the age of 35 on September 6, 1877, Crazy Horse was bayoneted -- not on the battlefield -- but under a flag of truce at Fort Robinson, Nebraska.   

Mr. Korczak Ziolkowski, was born on September 6, 1908, 31 years to the day when Crazy Horse  was slain.    Ziolkowski also worked on Mount Rushmore under Mr. Borglum.  In 1939, Ziolkowski received a letter from Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear, stating he wanted white men to know that red men had heroes too.  Ziolkowski scouted various sites for the memorial and wanted to carve the memorial in the Grand Tetons, but the Sioux leaders insisted it be carved in the Black Hills of South Dakota.   

The mountain carving began in 1948.  The memorial is a non-profit undertaking and takes absolutely no state or federal funds.  Ziolkowski was offered $10 million from the federal government on two separate occasions but said no both times.  He felt the project was more than a mountain carving and he feared his plans for broader educational and culture goals would be left behind with federal involvement.  Ziolkowski died in 1982.  The entire complex is owned by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.  Ziolkowski's wife, Ruth, and their ten children remain involved with the work, with no completion date.  The elevation on top of Crazy Horse is 6,740 feet.  The final dimensions are planned to be 641 feet wide and 563 high.  The head of Crazy Horse is 87 feet high.  By comparison, the heads of Mount Rushmore presidents are 60 feet high.

The Welcome Center expands to the Museum.

The sculpture below depics "Taku Wakan," which means "All that is mysterious."  According to Lakota beliefs, to invoke Taku Wakan, is to invoke all the spirits.  The sculpture represents all that is mysterious in the sacred dimensions of Native American life. 

Following was Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski's home.
Ruth still lives in the area year round.  Ziolkowski moved from Connecticut to the Black Hills in 1947, following his discharge from the U.S. Army after WWII.  He built the original three room structure himself in 1947-48.  He continued to live here with his family until his death on October 20, 1982.  The original log cabin was added on to over the years as the Ziolkowski family grew.  Ziolkowski brought the furnishings and antiques with him from his home in New England.  The carvings throughout this room and his studio are his works. 

Original fireplace for the Ziolkowskis' cabin:

Korczak and Ruth building the chimney.  Ruth looks so young.
Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski

Ziolkowski's Studio

Crazy Horse -- 1/300th Scale Model

The following sculpture of "Wild Bill" Hickok is the bronze cast that was used to carve the original from Crazy Horse granite as a gift by Ziolkowski to Deadwood, South Dakota.  The original was carved in 1951 and weighed 3,000 pounds.

Ziolkowski on the mountain in front of the tunnel under Crazy Horse's outstretched arm.  This photograph was taken in the mid 1970s.

It's actually has been 30 days since we visited Crazy Horse Memorial, which makes it hard to remember what we saw and learned -- thank goodness for pictures or I would surely be lost.  It has been difficult for me to maintain my blog with everything we have been seeing and doing.  Slowly but surely I WILL catch up.

As I move on to work on our final few days in South Dakota, may God continue to bless our voyage and may God bless our family and friends.  We are truly blessed.

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