Born in 1840 along Rapid Creek, Crazy Horse rose to become one of the most powerful and most recognized Native American figures of the Lakota Indian Tribe, second only to Sitting Bull. Cemented in history as a Native American war leader and fearless defender of Native American culture, territory and life, Crazy Horse has come to represent the freedom of the Native American spirit and the historic, continuing effort to preserve Native American culture within American society. His is an intriguing and vibrant legacy, inspiring the world’s largest mountain carving, currently in progress, right here in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
Crazy Horse, SD
CRAZY HORSE: A CULTURAL ICON
CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
In 1948, sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began work on the monumental Crazy Horse Memorial, fulfilling a request by Lakota chief, Standing Bear, to educate the American masses and communicate the strength of Native American culture to the community. "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too," he wrote, offering the entirety of his 900 acres, in exchange for the mountain that, upon its completion, will become the largest mountain carving in the world. Today, Ziolkowski’s family members and their supporters continue to bring this artistic vision to life, inviting the community to celebrate the legacy of a great Native American hero, discover the beauty of Native American culture and witness history in the making as Crazy Horse Memorial emerges from the mountainside.
HISTORY IN HIS WORDS: CRAZY HORSE QUOTES
The legacy of Crazy Horse is a source of inspiration for many. His most notable quotes beautifully reflect core human passions, experiences and ambitions, creating emotional connections to American history and transcending cultural and societal barriers to resonate with and unify people from around the world. Here, Crazy Horse’s words express themes of hope, sorrow, truth and strength, illustrating the desire for peace, a longing for freedom and resiliency in the fight for cultural equality and recognition:
- “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”
- “Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors; we borrow it from our Children.”
- “I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am at that place within me, we shall be one.”
- “One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk.”
- “A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky.”
CREATING A COLOSSUS: THE INCREDIBLE SCALE OF CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL
Though a portrait of Crazy Horse himself, the carved mountain monument in his honor is intended to immortalize and commemorate the soul of all native people. Rising over 563 feet high, Crazy Horse Memorial dwarfs the carved portraits of Mount Rushmore by nearly 10 times and is set to become one of the tallest monuments in the world once completed. Since its beginning in 1948, the face and outline have been established— the resolute gaze of Crazy Horse set in stone, looking out forever across the Black Hills.
SPECIAL EVENTS AT CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL
Special events throughout the year include:
- Crazy Horse Memorial Spring Volksmarch on the first full weekend in June, opening a 10K route to hikers that winds around the base of the mountain and up onto Crazy Horse's outstretched arm.
- Gift From Mother Earth Art Show is held mid-June and highlights the artwork, clothing and jewelry of Native American and Western artists.
- Legends in Light starts at dark and is a good reason to linger under the night sky. During the summer, a nightly laser show dances across the face of the memorial, highlighting the Native American culture.
- In early October, the 10K hiking route opens once again for the Crazy Horse Memorial Autumn Volksmarch, giving visitors the chance to experience a woodlands ramble during the popular fall touring season in the Black Hills.
WITNESS THE CONSTRUCTION OF CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL
Because the ambitious project is far from complete, visiting the Crazy Horse monument site allows you to witness the creation of this amazing achievement. There are special blasts scheduled to honor significant events. All blasts are subject to weather conditions.
June 26 • The first Crazy Horse Night Blast of the summer held to commemorate the Battle of Little Big Horn and celebrate the birthday of Ruth Ziolkowski, wife of the sculptor and key figure in the enduring effort to complete the memorial. The spectacular ceremonial blasts light up the mountain with fireballs and specially designed pyrotechnic features.
July 4 • Cultural celebrations featuring Native American Dancers and a variety of other activities in honor of Independence Day at Crazy Horse Memorial.
September 6 • A Crazy Horse Night Blast is held in observance of the 1887 death of Lakota leader Crazy Horse and the birthday of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski.
CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL UPDATES AND PROGRESS
Currently, a completion date for the monument has not been set; however, regular construction updates are available through the Crazy Horse Memorial website. Conceptual illustrations of the complete Crazy Horse Memorial design and vision are also available here.
Crazy Horse Memorial is located on US Highways 16 and 385, less than an hours drive southwest of Rapid City, open daily and year-round, from 8:00 a.m. until dark during the summer months and 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. during the winter.
The visitor complex includes a welcome center, restaurant, various theaters, the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Educational and Cultural Center.
- Adults $12
- Carload $30
- Motorcycles $7 per rider
- Native Americans
- Children (6 years and under)
- Crazy Horse Memorial Storytellers (donors) Military (with active-duty ID)
- Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops (in uniform)
- Custer County Residents
For nearby lodging check out places to stay in Rapid City.