Crazy Horse

(Tashunka Witko)

(1842 – 1877)

“Hoka Hey!  It is a good day to die!

Crazy Horse Memorial

A tribute to American Indians

and a legacy of a "Storyteller in Stone"




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 our for 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."

Korczak Ziolkowski, Sculptor

(Poem to be carved on mountain in letters three feet high)

In 1939, Lakota Chief Henry Chief Standing Bear wrote a letter to Korczak Ziolkowski.  In that letter Standing Bear wrote of the sad fact that the American Indian had no memorial.  He had seen Korczak’s artistic work displayed and wanted a carving of Crazy Horse in the Black Hills to call attention to the memory of the American Indians.  It was six years before Korczak Ziolkowski accepted the challenge to carve a memorial in the Black Hills.  At first it was to be a carving on the top 100 feet of the mountain named Thunderhead Mountain by Korczak when he and Standing Bear selected it as the appropriate place for a memorial.  However, Korczak soon abandoned the thought of a mountain top carving in favor of a sculpture in the roundÖthe world’s largest ever to be attempted. 

The carving is continuing well after Ziolkowski’s death at the end of working on the mountain for 35 years.  His family continues the vision established during the very early years that includes a museum, a university, a medical training center, arts and craft centers along with the colossal statue in the round.  All this without a single penny of government funding as from the beginning it was intended to be done through private funding and on a non-profit basis. 

Overall the sculpture will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long.  Crazy Horse’s head will be nearly 90 feet high. His outstretched arm will be 263 feet long.  The opening between the horse’s neck and Crazy Horse’s arm will be large enough to contain a 10-story building.  The horse’s head will be 219 feet high.  The pointing finger will be 37 ˝ feet long and 10 feet thick.  His hand will be 33 feet thick.

Crazy Horse was killed on September 6, 1877. Ziolkowski was born on September 6, 1908, 31 years after Crazy Horse was killed.  It was another 31 years before Standing Bear wrote the letter to Ziolkowski.  One of the unique things Crazy Horse did as a result of his vision was to wear a small stone at his ear.  He was known to have said when asked about it: “I will return to you in the stone.”  Black Elk, a contemporary of Crazy Horse first told this story to Korczak. 

On June 3, 1998, at the 50th anniversary of “A Dream in Progress” the carving of Crazy Horse Memorial, the face of Crazy Horse was completed and unveiled.  The work continues.  The fundraising never stops.  The Ziolkowski extended family still works daily toward the completion of Korczak’s vision of a fitting memorial to the Indian nations. 

The spirit of Crazy Horse reaches forward through this magnificent sculpture.

Korczak Ziolkowski
"Storyteller in Stone"
1908 - 1982


Return to Main Crazy Horse Page

Go to Crazy Horse Story Page

Other Crazy Horse Memorial related links:

Go to the Official Crazy Horse Memorial Page

Crazy Horse Memorial Newsgroup

Recent photos made at Crazy Horse Memorial

Korczak's Heritage Gifts, Inc., at Crazy Horse Memorial

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