While in Rapid City we went to Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse National Monument. I had heard a lot about this monument, but didn’t know really much about it. I am embarrassed to admit that at one point, I actually thought it was about an actual horse. Yes, I am hiding my face in shame, lol. Gladly I knew more about it when we headed out, but not much. At least I knew it was about an Indian Chief and not a horse, lol. I have to say, I learned a lot while we were there.
I will start with a little bit of history of who Crazy Horse was. Crazy Horse was a member of the Teton Sioux tribe and was born around 1843. He was killed at the age of 34 at Fort Robinson by an American Indian soldier around midnight on September 5, 1877 while under a flag of truce. What people may not know was the Crazy Horse was not always known as Crazy Horse. It was originally “Curly”, apparently because he had wavy hair. He didn’t earn his father’s name, Tasunka Witco (Crazy Horse) until he proved himself in battle. Another interesting fact is that Crazy Horse refused to have his picture or likeness taken. He felt that by taking a picture you were taking a part of his soul and would shorten his life. Crazy Horse Memorial was developed by descriptions from survivors of the Battle of the Little Big Horn and other contemporaries of Crazy Horse the man. The memorial creator, Korczak Ziolkowski, decided to create a monument that captured what Crazy Horse stood for instead of a true likeness based on the descriptions provided to honor the great warrior chief’s wishes. With his left hand thrown out pointing in answer to the derisive question asked by a Cavalry man, “Where are your lands now?” he replied, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”
Today the memorial is continually being worked on by the Ziolkowski family and will continue for many generations. The 563-foot-high Mountain Carving will dominate the horizon. A poem written by Korczak will be carved on the Mountain in letters three feet tall and the multi-storied, 350-foot diameter, will be located closer to the Mountain. When it is finished it will be much bigger than Mount Rushmore. A note of interest is that this is not a government funded park or monument. All the money they receive from admission fees, gift shop sales, etc is used to continue to work on their mission. They are proud to host over one million visitors per year!
We watched a very informative video in one of the theaters, then walked the grounds for a while. We saw the wonderful sculpture of what the memorial will look like when it’s done, as well as a 911 Memorial. Both were very well done and impressive. We had a great time running around and could definitely feel the pride in each exhibit. We set down and had a drink while being entertained by a group of dancers doing some ritual dances for the crowd. It was really nice. We had our dogs with us, and they really enjoyed sitting outside and relaxing with us. We were even able to take them into the museum as long as we held them. It was a great day and I really enjoyed our visit there. I just wish it would be finished so I could see it completed. It doesn’t look like that’s going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime, go and enjoy the museum and grounds and appreciate what they are accomplishing.