Crazy Horse, or Ta-Sunko-Witko, was a legendary warrior and Lakota Oglala leader, who committed to safeguarding the tradition and principles of the Sioux (Lakota) way of life.
This freedom fighter led his people in the fight against the US federal government. He is also credited for the death of General Custer in the Battle of Little Bighorn.
The iconic leader maintained that his people “preferred our own way of living”, adding that they “were no expense to the government” and all the wanted “was peace and to be left alone.”
The Black Hills of South Dakota have been honored to be the place of the monument of this prominent figure in history, a site of spiritual significance to the people of the Lakota tribe.
Located 17 miles from Mount Rushmore, the monument now becomes clearer, and contributor Charles Michael Ray wrote that “when finished, [it] will dwarf the four presidents” of Mount Rushmore.
The monument has been under construction for almost 70 years now, and according to constructions, it will take about a century to be finished.
Lakota Chief Standing Bear ordered one of the sculptors that made Mount Rushmore to create a similar monument like it with the face of his famous forefather Crazy Horse.
Standing Bear told the passionate Polish-American sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, that “my fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes too.”
Yet, his dreams initially looked too big, as he had no funding from the government.
Fortunately, Ziolkowski was a dreamer, and according to his wife, “he believed you can do anything in this world; nothing is impossible as long as you’re willing to work hard enough and pay the price.”
Ziolkowski started the sculpture back in 1948, and it is expected to be the largest in the world.
After his death in 1982, his wife and 7 children took over the project, and now, even his grandchildren are involved in it.
In the late 1990s, the face of the famous leader began to emerge from the mountain.
In the last two decades, workers have been sculpting the hair of Crazy Horse.
He will be made riding a horse whose head will be as high as 22 stories. Apart from the head of the horse, crews are now shaping the outstretched hand of Crazy Horse as well.
No one can specify the end of the project, but Ziolkowski’s daughter Monique explains that they’re just taking a decade at a time for the sculpting.
Mountain carving is nowadays high-tech. The family followed the model of their late father exactly, but Monique explains that they face new challenges with the seams and cracks in the rock.
“He always said you had to work with Mother Nature because she’ll beat you every time. So that’s why we’re working with the engineers, and we will be putting bolts in for support, but the bulk of the mountain needs to stand on its own.”
Caleb Ziolkowski, who is the third generation to work on the project, says that ““it is hard from a mile away to see the changes”, but “ since the time that I started this hand area has changed immensely.”
Native Americans claim that whenever the monument is done, it will ensure the place of Crazy Horse in history.
Some criticize the slow pace of progress of the project, but Ruth Ziolkowski quotes her husband:
“He said, ‘Go slowly so you do it right.’ And, I, for one, would like to have it go faster, but there are so many things that you have to do in order to do it right that it takes the time.”
The work is privately funded through admission fees and donations. To fund the construction, they are now selling tickets for visitors to see the completed face of the statue.
Apart from a museum, the master plan for the place involves an Indian University of North America.
Four days before his death, Crazy Horse said:
“I see a time … when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred tree of life and the whole earth will become one circle again.”