It’s the most common question asked by visitors and even locals when it comes to the world’s largest mountain carving in progress. The carving of Crazy Horse Memorial® started 75 years ago in the Black Hills and work continues to this day. There are numerous reasons for the slow evolution if this mountain carving and to understand why the process is taking so long you need to know each part of the equation.
The memorial has never accepted government funding. Everything that takes place at Crazy Horse Memorial® is privately funded from visitor donations and the price of admission to create the campus and carving. Another important thing to know, the carving isn’t the only thing the funding goes to. The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation® has educational and humanitarian goals to help protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians. This is being done through three different projects: the Mountain Carving, the Museums, and the University. Check out the Crazy Horse website to understand more about their mission.
In the beginning the only thing the campus offered was the Ziolkowski’s house. Today the transformation that has taken place is marvelous. Visitors can spend time in the Indian Museum of North America® and other museums within the Visitors Center learning about the heart-filled history of the memorial and the founding family that took on the multi-generational project upon the invite from Native American elders. Absorb a wealth of information about the beautiful cultures of the Indigenous Peoples of North America by viewing artifacts, artwork, photography, and more. Partake in live presentations and performances included in the Museum’s vast cultural programming line-up.
The campus is also home to The Indian University of North America®, currently in its 12th year of impacting the world through education. According to the Crazy Horse website, in the last eleven years, nearly 300 students from over 40 Native Nations and 20 states have successfully completed an academic program of The Indian University of North America® of Crazy Horse Memorial® and continued their college studies at universities and colleges throughout the United States.
From the campus, visitors can also take in the massive size of the Sculpture in Progress; the tons of rock that have been removed, the time-tested techniques that have been used throughout history leading to the impressive technology available today, and the labor-intensive work that is done year-round by the dedicated Mountain Carving Crew. Take a moment to stare at the 87.5-foot-high face of Crazy Horse – an opportunity that not even the Sculptor himself was able to have except when he saw it finished in his mind and heart.
If you desire to enhance your experience even further and meet Crazy Horse face to face, ask about becoming a Storyteller where you’ll be eligible for a guided tour of the Crazy Horse carving. Or visit during the fall or spring Volksmarch which allows the public to hike up and out onto the arm of the carving for a remarkable view.
Some projections have been estimated when it comes to the completion of different carving phases. For example, Crazy Horse’s left hand and part of the horse’s mane will likely be finished within the decade. However, with so many variables in the equation, the answer when it comes to the overall carving completion is unknown. While the work to complete the carving will carry on for decades it’s important to remember the explanation from Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski that the 563-foot carving is really the smallest part within the mission of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation®.
Since the foundation continually introduces new events, campus additions and progress on the carving, each visit to Crazy Horse Memorial® is different from the last. While the completion of the carving has no set date, it’s spectacular to witness it taking shape and appreciate all this foundation is doing to honor and preserve a beautiful culture and the Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. Start planning your visit to Crazy Horse and the Black Hills area by requesting our free Visitors Guide!