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Crazy Horse Memorial

(Thašúŋke Witkó: Crazy Horse)

Photo of Crazy Horse Memorial by Kim Lathe


Henry Standing Bear, an Oglala Lakota chief, recruited sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to build the Crazy Horse Memorial, telling Ziolkowski, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too,” referring to Mt. Rushmore. Standing Bear wrote a letter to the Department of the Interior, offering his own 900 acres in exchange for Thunderhead Mountain for the purpose of carving Crazy Horse. The government responded positively, and the U.S. Forest Service, responsible for the land, agreed to grant a permit for the use of the land, with a commission to oversee the project. Standing Bear declined government funds and relied instead upon private citizens to fund the project. To this day, Crazy Horse Memorial project remains privately funded through admission fees and donations.

Though Crazy Horse remains an honored war leader and is revered for his bravery in many battles including the Battle of the Little Bighorn (also known as Battle of Greasy Grass or Custer’s Last Stand), many Lakota believe that carving his likeness into sacred land is not an honor but a desecration no different than Mt. Rushmore.


Located in between Hill City and Custer, South Dakota, Crazy Horse is the world’s largest mountain carving in process. When completed, the sculpture will stand 641 feet long and 563 feet tall and will dwarf many other world landmarks, including the pyramids of Giza. After 50 years of work, Crazy Horse’s 87-foot head was completed in 1998, with the project’s total completion estimated in another 100 years. 


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