Native Americans asked the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to carve the Crazy Horse monument. Crazy Horse was a beloved Sioux leader and warrior admired by many tribes. When they presented the idea, Ziolkowski wanted it to be more than a sculpture. Ziolkowski envisioned a complex of the sculpture, cultural center, museum and educational programs to represent all Native Americans. His vision is for a comprehensive cultural, educational, medical and historical center for Native Americans.
Ziolkowski started work carving Thunderhead Mountain on June 3, 1948 and has no finish date. It is in South Dakota's black hills and Thunderhead Mountain is a sacred site for several Native American tribes. The sculpture captures the moment when Crazy Horse pointed and said, "My lands are where my dead lie buried." Crazy Horse's head is complete and is 87 feet high. The memorial will be 641 feet wide, and 563 feet high when it is completed. The Crazy Horse Monument will be the world's largest sculpture when complete. It is 17 miles south of Mount Rushmore near Custer, South Dakota.
Indian Museum of North America
Ninety percent of the art and artifacts in the Crazy Horse Memorial museum is donated material. The museum is a resource for study of Native American culture, and includes artifacts and material from many Native American cultures. The materials are available for Indian and non-Indian students to study.
Native American Education and Cultural Center
This center offers hands-on activities for the visitors. Visitors can play Lakota Sioux games, music, crafts and sports. The center has a large collection of Edward S. Curtis's North American Indian Project.
The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation provides outreach to Native Americans. Ziolkowski felt that education was the solution to eliminate many of the Indian's problems. The foundation works with schools and universities to present programs and classes on Native American history and culture. Native Americans teach classes, demonstrate songs and dances, and crafts. Teachers encourage students to engage in hands-on participation.
University and Medical Center
Construction has started for the university and medical center for Native Americans. College courses have been at the memorial since 1996, but the new center will include onsite living and learning experiences for the students.
The Crazy Horse Complex
When Korczak Ziolkowski agreed to sculpt a monument "so the White Man would know the Red Man has great heroes also," he envisioned it an opportunity to make a cultural and educational center for all Native Americans in addition to the sculpture. This will be available for study and research as well as to provide information to the casual visitor.