Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Crazy Horse Memorial

Today, our last full day in the Black Hills, our goal was to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial, which is just a few miles north of Custer.  I had visited the memorial once before, about 10 years ago.  I was wondering if I would notice any change and progress....well, yes and no.  Oh, there has been lots of progress on the memorial, but it looks so much like I remember it that I could not notice it at first.  What I did notice was a vast improvement in what I will call the "Visitor's Complex", which is probably 40% larger than I remember it, and full of all sorts of historical items, Indian items for sale, loads of information about the Memorial, along with the outside plaza and food area which has not changed.  Back in 2002, they were doing work on remodeling the original "visitor's center", so what we were able to see was vastly reduced from what we saw today.

Korczak Ziolkowski, the initial Sculptor, started the work in 1948.  He died in 1982 at the age of 74, and is buried at the foot of the mountain.  His family, with his wife heading it up along with most of their ten children, continue the work along with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation Board.  His last words to his wife was, “You must work on the mountain-but go slowly so you do it right.”  

An important part of the Memorial is how it is funded.  They have not, and will not, accept any Federal Funding.  It was Ziolkowski's belief that if the "Feds" got involved, the memorial would never be completed as he envisioned it.  You see, he had worked on Mt. Rushmore....and he knew that the Feds had stopped the work way before it was finished....and the only work on the mountain now has been to fix any problems with the Presidential Sculptures....patching up cracks, etc.  What they envision with Crazy Horse is not just a huge mountain sculpture, but also a complex of buildings which include a large Indian University.  

Ok, now time for pictures, which tell the story better than I can....
The view above is of the Memorial (left side) and the surrounding mountains as seen from a few miles away as we were driving along the highway.  Below is the Memorial as we have pulled into the facility, paid the $20 entrance fee ($10 per person, no senior discounts), as we are driving up the long driveway.

 Above is a picture of the model, which is a 1:34 scale model when compared to the mountain.  As you can see, there is still much work which needs to be done.  The extended hand on the monument is to symbolize the following statement.  "My lands are where my dead lie buried."
Above is the model, and below is the wording which will be etched into the mountain to the left of Crazy Horse.
Of course, one always seems to want to know the following.....What did it look like before any work was done?  ....  What type of progress has been made since I last saw it?  ....  When will it be done???   Well, the following pictures can help answer the first two questions....there is no answer for the last one.
 Above is a good collection of photos which show the progress, starting in the upper left corner, working to the right, then down the next row from left to right, and finally the bottom row from left to right.  Below is a listing of the years:

1948 | 1960 | 1968 | 1974

1982 | 1991 | 1993 | 1997

1999 | 2003 | 2005 | 2012

 Above is a close up of the mountain in 1948 before any blasting took place.  Below is what it looked like in 1991.

Above is what it looked like in 2003, a year after I had last been here.  I remember the flag being there in memory of 9/11.  Below is what it looks like now...  So in ten years, they have removed a bunch of the mountain from under the "hole".  Little has been done to advance the area behind the face, and a little had been done to start clarifying the outstretched arm with the pointing finger.   Yep, there is a lot of work to be done still.....
We did decide to eat while we were there.  This was not our original plan, but after seeing the movie and seeing the part about how it is funded through admissions, gifts, and revenue brought in from the sales of items at the complex, including food revenue, we decided to contribute a bit more.
We were seated right along the eastern windows....and we had a good view of Memorial as we ate, as shown below.
The restaurant has a huge "look of wood" feel to it, as you can see below.  There is the full service restaurant, and also a snack bar area.  I had a Taco Salad, and Marcia had a Buffalo Burger with sweet potato fries.  We both enjoyed our meal, and the service was very good.
Before lunch we enjoyed looking through the massive visitor's center complex, which is made up of numerous buildings, some connected, some not.   Below is an aerial view from their website.

Crazy Horse Memorial - the future

Here is a look at some of what we saw....
 Above is the room you enter into right after seeing the movie.  Below, from that same room, is a 1:300 scale model of the Memorial....which is hard to see since it is in front of the window looking out at the Memorial.
 Below is a model of the vast complex's future look.

 They have many sculptures throughout, and loads and loads of pictures.
 Below, we have moved into the main entrance area of the Visitor's Center complex.
Above is a Harley which is bringing in money through a "chance to win" deal....$20 for one ticket, $50 for three.  Well, we won't win it, because we did not put out any money for the "chance to win".
There is many, many, many Indian items on display, including this replica of a Lakota tipi (aka: tepee) above.
 As you can see, they have utilized just about every bit of space on the walls, the floor, and even the ceiling.
Below is a saying of Chief Joseph, with a wooden sculpture of him below.  The saying impressed both of us, so I will share it with you:  "They will teach us to quarrel about God, as Catholics and Protestants do.  We do not want to do that.  We may quarrel with men sometimes about things on earth, but we never quarrel about the Great Spirit.  We do not want to learn that.  --Chief Joseph, 1881"  Now, being the Librarian I am, I did look it up, and "essentially" this is what he said, but his actual wording might have been just a little different.  It is an interesting concept though....

 Above and below are just some real nice exhibits about the Indian Culture.  The Cabinet above is full of woven baskets.  Below is a warrior who morns the loss of his horse.

We are now moving into another room, which will lead out to the courtyard, the original entrance and lobby area, and access to the restaurant.
We now moved into the original lobby, studio and home area....
 Here in the original lobby, they have molds of the horses head, and Crazy Horses head.

 And a painting by Ziolkowski showing his vision within the mountain, and below a sketch of how to "wear down the mountain" to expose the rock to do the horse.  If you look closes in the front of the reddish area, you can actually see the outline of the horses head.  It seems that this is the work that is being done these past 15 years or so....getting the rock removed so that the horse can start to be worked on.
Now for some reason, many of the pictures I took in the replica of the home, and the studio did not turn out very well.  But here are a few of them...
Above there is a painting of Ziolkowski a few years before he died, while below is a portrait of him when he was a young man.

 In the Studio area there is this bronze sculpture of Wild Bill Hickok, and below, this stage from the Deadwood Cheyenne Stage Lines.

In the movie we saw, they showed that when he first started out with old equipment.  Below is a picture of two of the original pieces of heavy equipment he had.

This Buda Air Compressor has the words "Kaput" attached to the exhaust because many times it would just go "Kaput" on him, he would have to walk all the way down the 741 steps that took him up onto the mountain, hand crank it to start it again, and go back up the stairs.  In the film we saw, he said in one day this happened nine times....it was not fun going up those stairs even once per day, let alone nine times.  He used the air compressor when he advanced to the pneumatic jack hammer drill to put the dynamite into to blow away the stone.
Well, we loved Crazy Horse Memorial so much, we decided to return for the night laser show.  If you wish to come back to Crazy Horse, you need to let them know at the Information Booth and they will exchange your ticket tab for a new one time entry ticket.  I am not sure what the limitations are on this...but I know coming back the same day, and even the next day, is a possibility.

We got there around 7:30, an hour before the laser show was to start. Above the light from the sun just barely illuminated the Memorial.  A little before 8 they turned the lights on the memorial, and I got the shot below.
 By 8:20 it was dark and cold, I took this shot, and we headed for our car.
Most of the people watch the light show from the comfort of their car, in the parking area that is slightly up a hill away from the entrance to the Visitor's Complex.  By 8:30 the lights we off the mountain, and then for 15 minutes various colors of light shown on the mountain.  At 8:45, the actual laser show started, and it lasted about 20 minutes.  There was no way our camera was going to produce a picture of this show...but I can tell you, it is well worth the effort to see this wonderful light show.

When completed, the Crazy Horse Memorial will be 641 feet wide and 563 feet high.  In relation to Mt. Rushmore, the Presidents can fit on the back of Crazy Horses head.  Crazy Horse was selected for the Memorial for a few reasons.  One, there is no certified picture of Crazy Horse, so the figure is a composite of Lakota Indians with a likeness of what Crazy Horse is said to have looked.  Second, Crazy Horse is said to have never given in to sign any treaty, to make any official agreement with the United States...that he stood as independent of the United States as one could during this time period.  

A famous Indian quote is this:  "They made us many promises, more than I can remember, but they kept one; they promised to take our land, and they did." -- "Red Cloud" Oglala Lakota  I am sure that Crazy Horse felt this in a strong way...that the American Government could not be trusted.  

So because of his strength, his history of battles, his believes, his drive, Crazy Horse was chosen to not just represent the Lakota people, but all American Indians.  This memorial is for all American Indians.  When completed, when the University is fully functional and when the entire complex is complete, it will the Jewel of all memorials.  Its size and magnitude will be bigger and better than anything ever seen.  Hence, for this dream to be realized, they do need to keep the "Government" out of it.  

Unfortunately, like any endeavor of this magnitude, not all are happy with the memorial.  Back in the 1940's when it was commissioned by Standing Bear, a Lakota elder, other Lakota Indians, including members of Crazy Horses surviving family, did not think that it was right to carve into the sacred Black Hills.  Also, the idea of a Lakota pointing a finger is just not proper.  They said, "It would be like having a sculpture of George Washington with an upraised middle finger."

Regardless, if you are in the area, you need to visit this Memorial.  Give yourself plenty of time...and be sure to come back and see the laser show right in the comfort of your own vehicle.

1 comment:

We love to hear comments from our readers. All comments are moderated by Dave before added to the website. Spam, advertisers and rude comments are deleted, and due to high spam attempts, Anonymous Users cannot post, sorry....register for a Google ID, it is free and it is easy to setup.