This is a photo depiction of the heroic statue now being constructed in the Black Hills, South Dakaota. In the end, it will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long, making it the largest statue on Earth.
The great Sioux Chief of Chiefs, Crazy Horse himself was born in Rapid Creek (South Dakota) in 1840. He was killed when he was only 37 years of age, September 6, 1877. He was stabbed in the back by an American soldier at Fort Robinson, Nebraska while he was under U.S. Army protection. During his brief life he was a great leader of his people. He had no equal as a warrior or as a chief of a great tribe. He gave submissive allegiance to no man, white or Indian, and claimed his inalienable rights as an Indian to wander at will over the vast hunting grounds of his people. He never registered with any governmental agency; never touched the pen; never signed a treaty. He wanted only peace and a way of living for his people without having to live on the white man's reservations by permission.
Crazy Horse fiercely defended his people and their way of life in the only manner he knew, but only after he saw the Treaty of 1868 broken. This treaty, signed by the President of the United States. Andrew Johnson, said, "Paha Sapa, the Black Hills, will forever and ever be the sacred land of the Indians." He took to the warpath only after he saw his friend Conquering Bear killed in front of him; only after he saw the failure of the government agents to bring the required treaty guarantees such as meat, clothing, tents and necessities for his tribe's existence. In battle, the Sioux war leader would rally his warriors with the cry, "It is a good day to fight; --it is a good day to die."
In 1877 Crazy Horse's wife, staying at Fort Robinson, was dying of tuberculosis. His only child, a daughter, had recently died of this same disease. Under a guarantee of safe conduct both into and out of the Fort, Crazy Horse agreed to confer with the base's Commanding Officers and to seek medical assistance. History has proven since that the intention never was to let Crazy Horse go free, but rather to capture him and to ship him to the Dry Tortugas in Florida. The chief had no notion what was in store for him until he entered the guardhouse and saw the bars on the windows. Right then he was face-to-face with the tretchery of the white man and the fate carefully planned and intended for him. He drew a knife (the fact that he had not been disarmed is proof that he never surrendered) and attempted to get to his Indian friends outside the stockade. Little Big Man, friend and warrior companion of Crazy Horse, carrying out his orders as an Indian policeman, seized Crazy Horse's arms. In struggling to free himself, Crazy Horse slashed Little Big Man's wrist. At this point, an infantry man of the guard made a successful lunge with a bayonet and Crazy Horse fell, mortally wounded.
In the minds of the Indians and Native Americans today, the life and death of Crazy Horse parallels the tragic history of all native Americans since the white man invaded their homes and lands. One of many great and patriotic Indian heroes, Crazy Horse's tenacity of purpose, his modest life, his unfailing courage, his tragic and deceitful death set him apart and above all others.
Pictured below (left) is Korczak Ziolkowski, Sculptor (1908-1982) who worked for forty years on the sculpture to honor Crazy Horse with no pay, and for many years in complete obscurity, all alone. Here he is hand drilling the first blast holes in 1948, when he first began. Today, the statue is depicted in the middle photo. The project celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998, and it is still impossible to predict the date of its completion. This last photo (on the right) will give you a glimpse into the future. It was taken as carefully planned blasts cleared the way for the continuing excavation. (Click for larger views)
Korczak is dead, but his dream of never letting the memory of this courageous man pass into oblivion goes on after him. In a strange way, the sculpture and the sculptured are interwined in rock and reality. Where Crazy Horse left off, Korczak Ziolkowski went on to preserve the Sioux and to honor them.
To Be Carved Forever In The Stone Face Of The Mountain In CAPITAL Letters Three Feet High:
WHEN THE COURSE OF HISTORY HAS BEEN TOLD
LET THESE TRUTHS HERE CARVED BE KNOWN:
CONSCIENCE DICTATES CIVILIZATIONS LIVE
AND DUTY OURS TO PLACE BEFORE THE WORLD,
A CHRONICLE WHICH WILL LONG ENDURE.
FOR LIKE ALL THINGS UNDER US AND BEYOND
INEVITABLY WE MUST PASS INTO OBLIVION.
THIS LAND OF REFUGE TO THE STRANGER
WAS OURS FOR COUNTLESS EONS BEFORE:
CIVILIZATIONS MAJESTIC AND MIGHTY.
OUR GIFTS WERE MANY WHICH WE SHARED
AND GRATITUDE FOR THEM WAS KNOWN.
BUT LATER, GIVEN TO MY OPPRESSED ONES
WERE MURDER, RAPE AND SANGUINE WAR.
LOOKING EAST FROM WHENCE INVADERS CAME,
GREEDY USURPERS OF OUR HERITAGE.
FOR US THE PAST IS IN OUR HEARTS,
THE FUTURE NEVER TO BE FULFILLED.
TO YOU I GIVE THIS GRANITE EPIC
FOR YOUR DESCENDANTS TO ALWAYS KNOW--
"MY LANDS ARE WHERE MY DEAD LIE BURIED."