Visit a unique mountain rock carving dating back to 1947.
This memorial is a work in progress and is still under construction. The memorial honors a Sioux Native American chief named Tasunke Witco, a warrior for his people. The European people were moving onto his and his people's ancestral lands and, in doing so, were threatening his people's way of life. Tasunke Witco took the name Crazy Horse and was successful in the Fetterman Massacre and the Battle of Little Bighorn. He said, "We did not ask you white men to come here. The Great Spirit gave us this country as a home. You had yours. We did not interfere with you. We do not want your civilization!"-- Crazy Horse. When the memorial is completed, it will measure 563 feet tall, 641 feet long, and will be the largest mountain carving in South Dakota. It will be 10 times larger than Mount Rushmore, and the chief's arm that points out over the land is almost as long as a football field.
The sculptor and designer of the memorial are Korczak Ziolkowski. He was orphaned as a baby and raised in a foster home. Ziolkowski worked in heavy construction as a teen and graduated from Rindge Technical School. He was a World War II veteran and was sought to design war memorials in Europe, but he decided to work on the Crazy Horse Memorial for the rest of his life. Ziolkowski moved to the Black Hills to begin work on the memorial when he was 40 years old. He eventually married one of the volunteers on the project, and Korczak Ziolkowski and Ruth Ross had a family, 5 sons and 5 daughters. He spent more than 35 years volunteering on the project with no salary, always turning down offers of funding from the federal government. The money came from admission fees and donations. Korczak and Ruth have since passed away; however, 7 of their children and a few of their grandchildren are continuing the work.
It is going to take a long while to finish the massive memorial due to its size and the commitment not to accept any federal funds. The Ziolkowski family continues the work for future generations to eventually see Chief Crazy Horse riding out of the mountain on his horse. There is a Welcome Center, bus rides to the base of the mountain, historical videos in 2 theaters, and museums. You can also check out the Nature Gates, which are decorated with 219 animal silhouettes. Visitors will see the promise painting by Steve Fountain (1921 - 2007) depicting Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear with the scale model & Thunderhead Mountain in the background in the Welcome Center.