I traveled with the Chicks With Kicks Hiking SC on a memorable trip to South Dakota. On june 4th, 2022 we drove very early to Crazy Horse park and arrived just before it opened After a quick breakfast at the restaurant on site, we registered for the hike organized by America’s Walking Club. The trail to the top is 6.2 miles out and back with a 500ft elevation gain. It is a beautiful trail with a few steep sections. The organizers offered water and snacks every mile. It was very cool to get close-up and personal with the giant mountain carving of Crazy Horse. The panoramic views from the top are simply amazing.
Crazy Horse was a brave Lakota warrior of the Oglala band. He is believed to have been born in 1840 about 40 miles northeast of where the monument stands today. He fought against American settlers in the battles of the Black Hills Wars in an effort to preserve the Lakota way of life. He was killed in 1877 at Fort Robinson in Nebraska. Henry Standing Bear (Brule Lakota Henry) was an Oglala band Lakota chief. He was Crazy Horse’s cousin. Upon hearing of an effort to build a Crazy Horse memorial in Nebraska, he assembled an association and asked sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to carve it in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota instead. Ziolkowski moved to SD in 1947 to start this monumental project to which he dedicated his life. He married Ruth Ross in 1950 with whom he had 10 children. The Ziolkowskis documented in three books the detail plans of the carving. Mrs. Ziolkowski continued to lead the effort after her husband’s passing in 1982. She stated “He left everything so we can carry on his work, and that’s just what we’re going to do. We’re dedicated to that. His whole life would be wasted if the mountain carving and the humanitarian goals are not completed.”
The carving is the largest mountain carving in progress in the world. It is a labor of love initiated by Henry Standing Bear and the Ziolkowskis to honors all indigenous people. Today, second and third generation Ziolkowskis continue to serve on the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation Board whose mission is “to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians”
In addition to the carving, THE INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® was built on campus thanks to Mrs. Ziolkowski’s leadership, as well as THE NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL CENTER® offering visitors hands on activities.