On the same day that we went to Mount Rushmore, we went to Crazy Horse Memorial. It is located about 17 miles apart.
Crazy Horse Memorial made a bigger impression on me than Mount Rushmore. The reason for this is not only the bigger size of Crazy Horse Memorial, it is also the story behind the carvings. While Mount Rushmore was made to promote tourism, the Crazy Horse Memorial is carved to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians.
We went there by RV and entered coming from the US Highway 16/385. (Coordinates +43.820279, -103.640092). The admission is $28 per carload. And while we thought that was pretty much, we later on understood why this amount was that high: Crazy Horse Memorial is not a federal or state supported project, admission fees and donations support the Mountain Carving, the Museums, and the developing INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA®. After hearing where our money went, we didn't mind it being a bit much.
We were very lucky, because we arrived at 11.50 am and there was a blasting scheduled at noon. So before we even went 'inside', we sat outside on the grass and waited for the blast to come. Our kids really enjoyed this part. Especially when they experienced that they could see the explosion, before they could hear it. The sentence 'Fire in the Hole' we have heard for a long time after that.
At first we thought there was an explosion like this every day, but when we looked it up online (http://crazyhorsememorial.org/frequently-asked-questions ) it said:
Blasts are carefully planned and executed when all conditions are ready. There is no set schedule for these blasts, however. The final decision to conduct each blast is made on a “same-day” basis. Final timing of the blast depends on care and safety on the Mountain.
We saw this:
After the blast, we went inside the Welcome Center.
The first thing we did, was see the movie about Crazy Horse Memorial. Our kids were totally silent during the movie, they were impressed by it and Crazy Horse Memorial had gained their respect. My oldest was wondering why some of Mr. Ziolkowski's children didn't help at the Memorial. But then he answered his own question and said that their father had told them they could choose and that this was what they did. He said that every person has his own talents and strenghts and that they should be able to do what they wanted. I agreed with him!
The movie told us the story behind Crazy Horse Memorial. It was about Korczak Ziolkowski and his family. And about Chief Henry Standy Bear who thought about the project first to honor Crazy Horse by writing to the sculptor:
"My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too". (http://crazyhorsememorial.org/frequently-asked-questions/)
After the movie I remember that I was thinking: 'Mr. Ziolkowski is a great example of perseverance to other people. He had a dream and never gave up'. I was impressed by the legacy of this man and his wife. He started with nothing but if you look at what is standing there now, I know he would be very proud of his wife and children.
We walked around through the Visitors center afterwards and through the Indian Museum of North American History, which showed us a large collection of art and artifacts reflecting the diverse histories and cultures of the American Indian people. There also were people showing their craftsmanship here, which was cool to see.
There was a shop, a restaurant and a snack shop. Unfortunately for us, the Indian dancer was taking a break when we were there.
Some Crazy Horse Memorial Facts (http://crazyhorsememorial.org/crazy-horse-memorial-facts/):
- 1939 – Korczak Ziolkowski [core-chalk jewel-cuff-ski] a noted New England sculptor, first came to the Black Hills to help Gutzon Borglum on Mount Rushmore. That year Korczak also won first prize for a sculpture (of Ignacy Jan Paderewski) at the New York World’s Fair. Chief Standing Bear read news reports of Korczak’s achievements and invited him to create a mountainous tribute to the North American Indians.
- May 3, 1947 – Korczak Ziolkowski returned to the sacred Black Hills to create a monument of Crazy Horse. He came at the invitation of Chief Henry Standing Bear.
- June 3, 1948 – First blast on the Mountain. Five survivors of the Battle of the Little Bighorn attended.
- It is being carved in the round and when completed it will be 641 feet long and 563 feet high.
- All four 60-foot high heads on Mt. Rushmore would fit inside just Crazy Horse’s head.
In my opinion visiting the Crazy Horse Memorial was well worth it!
This video is a great addition:
The back of the information leaflet that we got at the Crazy Horse Memorial states as follows...
'The following was written in May, 1949 - by sculpture Korczak Ziolkowski':
Crazy Horse was born on Rapid Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota in about 1842. While at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, under a flag of truce, he was stabbed in the back by an American soldier and died September 6, 1877 ~ age 35 (?).
Crazy Horse defended his people and their way of life in the only manner he knew.
Only after he saw the Treaty of 1868 broken. This treaty, signed by the President of the United States, said, in effect:
As long as rivers run and grass grows and trees bear leaves, Paha Sapa - the Black Hills of Dakota - will forever be the sacred land of the Sioux Indians.
Only after he saw his leader, Conquering Bear, exterminated by treachery,
Only after he saw the failure of the government agents to bring required treaty guarantees, such as meat, clothing, tents and necessities for existence which they were to receive for having given up their lands and gone to live on the reservations,
Only after he saw his people's lives and their way of life ravaged and destroyed.
Crazy Horse has never been known to have signed a treaty or touched a pen.
Crazy Horse, as far as the scale model is concerned, is to be carved not so much as a lineal likeness but more as a memorial to the spirit of Crazy Horse - to his people. With his left hand thrown out pointing in answer to the derisive question asked by a white man, "Where are your lands now? " he replied,
"My lands are where my dead lie buried."