We decided to stop at Crazy Horse before heading out for the long drive to the Tetons, and we were all glad we did. This place is hard to put into words, bringing much emotion and feeling behind it.
From their website, "History repeatedly has witnessed the submergence of minorities. The culture and tradition of the conquered not infrequently have been lost and posterity has been deprived of valuable record. Thus history has left its imprint on the Dakotas. The cultures and traditions of the North American Indian, in their sociological, political and economic progression, are in danger of being obliterated. Henry Standing Bear, a Lakota chief, sensing this calamity, conceived the idea of a portrait likeness of the Lakota leader, Crazy Horse, carved out of the lasting granite of his Paha Sapa. To create this memorial he enlisted the sympathies of Korczak Ziolkowski, who already had given much of his time, energy, artistic skill and resources to the initial phases of such a project."
In 1939, Korczak Ziolkowski's marble sculpture of Ignacy Jan Paderewski won first prize at the New York World's Fair. The fame as well as his familiarity with the Black Hills prompted several Lakota Chiefs to approach him about a monument honoring Native Americans.
Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Lakota wrote him, saying, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too."
Korczak arrived in the Black Hills on May 3, 1947. He worked on the project until his death on October 20, 1982, at age 74. During his nearly 36 years of working on the mountain, he refused to take any salary at Crazy Horse Memorial. He is buried in the tomb that he and his sons blasted from a rock outcropping at the base of the mountain. He wrote his own epitaph for the tomb door, and cut the letters from steel plate.
Many of his 10 children still carry on in his footsteps today to bring this sculpture to fruition. An amazing place, full of emotion. This short write-up certainly doesn't do the story behind it, or the effort still underway, justice. I encourage you to read more on their website. I can only hope my kids will see this monument completed in their lifetime.
On to the Tetons.