Monday, August 31, 2009

South Dakota: Crazy Horse Memorial

On our last day in South Dakota, B took me to the Crazy Horse Memorial.

The Crazy Horse Memorial and I go way back. See, my grandparents subscribe to Country Magazine ("for those who live in or long for the country") and I spent many long hours reading through the back issues of Country Magazine stacked on their coffee table during our visits. I love Country Magazine, by the way, and frequently contemplate getting a subscription. B doesn't know that about me.

But I digress. Country Magazine for a long time seemed to have Crazy Horse updates every other issue. Or maybe I was just reading the same issue over and over again, but I remember reading about how the face was soon to be completed and then reading about it later when it was completed and that was very exciting to me. I may have even tried to send them money at one point.

This is the Crazy Horse Memorial today.

As you can see, while the face is complete, the rest of it is far from complete. Carving was started on it in 1948, and was mostly a one man operation for many years. These days carving and blasting happens every day and there is an actual crew of guys who work on it. People are always grumpy about how little progress seems to be made on the carving, but to put it in perspective the four heads from Mount Rushmore would fit in the space behind Crazy Horse's head. So yeah, this shit is big.

This is what it will look like when completed.

I'm hopeful that the next time I visit they will have finished carving the horse's head, and maybe it will even be complete in my lifetime, although I'm not counting on that.

So the Crazy Horse Memorial is not just a giant mass of rock. They've created a cultural center around it dedicated to all Native Americans. They have beautiful crafts and old photos and lots of information about the different tribes in the state. They also have a large collection of beads, and I have a certain friend who I HOPE reads this blog, although I don't think she does, but she knows that beads have a special meaning for her and that's why I'm mentioning them.

There was also a large gate outside the compound which had images of wildlife in each panel. They even had a set of flying squirrels (in my opinion, the creepiest of squirrels).

This concludes my series on South Dakota. Are you excited? I kind of am. I'm ready to talk about something else. Like, you know, squirrels. In fact, I have two squirrel-themed posts coming up in the next two days so check back soon for your fix, all you rodent-lovers out there!


  1. I think the Crazy Horse monument is an interesting idea and I wish we could have seen it ourselves on our way through. Does the museum/interpretive center talk about the controversy about the monument within the local Native American community at all (as in, the general sculpting/development of the Black Hills)?

  2. No, the museum doesn't cover it AT ALL. I had heard about the general sentiment that the Black Hills shouldn't be carved by man, but we did some research when we got back to the cabin later that night. Turns out that some say the sculptor (a white guy) bullied the Native Americans into letting him do this, and that this sculpture is more about him than about any Native Americans. I had never heard that part before!

  3. Casey, I read your blog! I like beads!