“When the course of history has been told
Let these truths here carved be known:
Conscience dictates civilizations live
And duty ours to place before the world,
A chronicle which will long endure.
For like all things under us and beyond
Inevitably we must pass into oblivion.
This land of refuge to the stranger
Was ours for our countless eons before:
Civilizations majestic and mighty.
Our gifts were many which we shared
And gratitude for them was known.
But later, given my oppressed ones
Were murder, rape and sanguine war.
Looking east from whence invaders came,
Greedy usurpers of our heritage.
For us the past is in our hearts,
The future never to be fulfilled.
To you I give this granite epic
For your descendants to always know-
“My lands are where my dead lie buried.”
The Crazy Horse Memorial is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, not far from Mt. Rushmore. As we were planning out our itinerary for this trip this was a stop we were uncertain of. We had heard mixed opinions and there was a lot of conflicting reviews online as to whether this was a stop worth visiting. It seemed that public opinion was found firmly rooted in two opposing camps. Those that raved about this stop and those that felt it wasn’t worth the $28.00 entrance fee.
We really weren’t sure if we were going to stop here until it actually came into view. Gracie really wanted to visit this monument after having researched and wrote a paper on it last year. Our concern was that there wouldn’t be enough there geared toward the younger boys and that they would have a tough time being still and quiet as we walked through the Native American Museum.
But we took a chance, and we are so glad we did. What an inspiring and awesome site.
“The southern Black Hills offers natural beauty and monumental art at Crazy Horse Memorial. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, together with his wife Ruth, began the world’s largest mountain carving in 1948, with the goal of protecting, honoring and preserving the history, culture, and living heritage of all Native American people. Their work is continued by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, members of their family, and supporters who believe in continuing his vision.
Crazy Horse Memorial hosts over one million visitors each year.
When Crazy Horse visitors step into the museum, they are transported into a place of beauty, inspiration and education. They experience the rich and varied cultures of the North American Indian people coming together in a blend of special displays, featuring magnificent creations of artworks and artifacts- functional and artistic- spanning Pre-Columbian to contemporary times.
Native American artists are featured throughout the complex and several daily dance performances teach the traditional dances of many tribes.. The mountain produces unique, real feelings for visitors. From the safety of the viewing deck, they can see and hear the drilling and bulldozing work, and occasionally even feel the vibrations from production blasts.”
As we stepped out of the car we were greeted with this incredible site:
We headed into the Visitor’s Center and Native American Museum.
Our first stop was the theatre where we watched a 20-minute video on the making on the monument and how it came about.
It was fascinating and led to a greater appreciation for the work that has been done and is still continuing today.
The Crazy Horse Memorial is a privately funded project that raises money through admission costs, money made through gift shop sales, and private donations.
Although Korczak Ziolkowski, has since passed away, the work continues as his 10 (one has since passed away) children move forward with his vision, using his model and specs as a guide.
After walking through the museum we stepped outside on the viewing deck.
The view from outside was even more spectacular,
And the kids enjoyed getting a closer look through the binoculars. (Ozzie loved being able to see what machinery was being used up on the mountain.
Outside we were also able to see the model of what Crazy Horse will be someday, as they continue to toil their way, a piece at a time, through the granite rock.
The end result with be awe-inspiring and enormous at 563 feet tall and 641 feet long.
His head alone is 87 feet by 44 feet; large enough to hold all four faces of Mt. Rushmore.
While on the observation deck we were able to sit and enjoy a Native American program. The presenter shared with us stories and beliefs of his people and then performed a beautiful traditional hoop dance.
He then invited the kids to come up and learn to dance his people’s traditional hoop dance.
It was wonderful and moving to see the kids experience such a special moment as they danced in the shadow of Crazy Horse Monument.
As we were leaving Rusty, Molly and Grace stopped to pick out a piece of granite, blasted from the mountain to create the Crazy Horse Monument.
They had a pile of rubble with a sign asking that you simply donate what you would like for the privilege of taking home a piece of history.
I can’t say Toby was thrilled that we were taking home three HEAVY pieces of history in our school bus, but the kids just couldn’t resist a deal like that.
We were so glad we took a chance and made a stop there. Just to add our two cents to public opinion:
We found it inspiring and touching. It was thrilling to see the process of such a project and gave us a sense of what it must have been like watching Mt. Rushmore emerge from the granite rock before it was completed. The program was spiritually moving and when the Native American man, dressed in traditional clothing, spoke his concluding words with Crazy Horse in the background I was inspired…
He looked at us and left this final thought,
“Let us go and be a more compassionate people.”
What beautiful instruction.
What a beautiful place.