Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Crazy Horse

The Mount Rushmore Memorial encouraged another accomplished artist to carve a second colossal sculpture in the Black Hills. In 1948, seven years after work stopped on nearby Mount Rushmore, grand-scale carving began on the Crazy Horse Memorial.

Sculptor Korczak Ziol-kowski (pronounced "Jewel-cuff-ski") had worked as an assistant to Gutzon Borglum at Mount Rushmore in 1939 before leaving to pursue private commissions and serve in World War II. That same year, Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Oglala Sioux wrote Ziolkowski asking him to consider carving a giant sculpture dedicated to the American Indian. The Sioux, Standing Bear said, "would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too." 

Ziolkowski, a burly, determined artist, loved the challenge and was inspired to dedicate the rest of his life to the largest sculptural undertaking in the world. With Chief Henry Standing Bear, Ziolkowski chose the legendary Sioux warrior, Crazy Horse, for his subject. Crazy Horse was born in the Black Hills and is partially credited with Custer's sensational defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

The Boston-born artist spent several decades alone on the mountain, drilling and blasting the likeness of the great Sioux leader from the granite of Thunderhead Mountain. Depicting Crazy Horse atop his steed, the 563-foot-tall memorial is being carved in the round and will dwarf even the four presidents on Mount Rushmore when completed. 

After Ziolkowski's death in 1982, the memorial continued as a work-in- progress, overseen by Ziolkowski's wife, Ruth, and seven of their 10 children. On site are a 1/34-scale plaster model, the studio-home of the artist, two gift shops, a restaurant, the Indian Museum of North America (featuring three immense exhibit halls with thousands of artifacts), and the new Native American Educational and Cultural Center. Future plans include a university and medical training center. Unlike Mount Rushmore, the nonprofit educational and humanitarian organization that operates Crazy Horse Memorial is funded solely by private donations and admission fees.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is located five miles north of Custer on U.S. 16-385. For more information, please contact Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, Avenue of the Chiefs, Crazy Horse, SD 57730-9506; or call (605) 673-4681.