Crazy Horse Memorial
The story of Korczak Ziolkowski, this memorial’s visionary sculptor, is remarkable. Born in Massachusetts and raised in foster care, he went on to study at a technical school. He soon discovered a proclivity for sculpture and, despite being self-taught, earned critical acclaim for his early marble works—including first prize at the 1939 New York World’s Fair for his marble sculpture of Paderewski.
In the late 1930s, he moved West to work for Gutzon Borglum at Mount Rushmore. By then, Ziolkowski had come to the attention of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear, who dreamed of creating a large-scale monument to North American Indians. Ziolkowski, however, volunteered for service in WW II, and didn’t accept Standing Bear’s invitation until afterward, turning down offers to create European war memorials in the process.
Ziolkowski worked on the 641-foot-long and 563-foot-high granite sculpture of Ogalala Lakota leader and hero, Crazy Horse, from 1947 until his death in 1982. And the work continues to this day under the direction of the nonprofit Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. In addition to a viewing verandah, the site is home to the Indian Museum of North America, the Native American Educational & Cultural Center, and the late sculptor's original studio and home.
The roster of events includes laser light shows (May--mid-Oct.), storyteller van tours, and biannual (June and Sept.) 6.2-mile Volksmarches up to the work site and back. The site also has a gift shop, a restaurant, and a snack bar.
12151 Avenue of the Chiefs
- Custer, South Dakota 57730
- 43.82027900, -103.64009200
- Daily, essentially sunrise--sunset.
- Visit Website
- (605) 673-4681