Quackgrass Sally: On the Trail 10-24-11 | TheFencePost.com

Quackgrass Sally: On the Trail 10-24-11

Quackgrass Sally
Ranch Wife & Trail Gal

When I traveled to South Dakota recently, I wanted to see a landmark I’d visited years ago, the Crazy Horse Memorial. It had impressed me back then, both for its history and its unbelievable presence in the Black Hills. When I saw the mountain again, I was even more awed.

Most man-made monuments do not change over the years, other then normal aging, but the same cannot be said for this South Dakota wonder. Here, rising out of the rock-mountains, above tree line, along US highway 16/385 between Hill City and Custer is a remarkable sight. Boldly gazing out across the landscape stretching out before him, is the regal facial image of Crazy Horse, famous Lakota leader. It is the largest ongoing mountain carving in the world, constantly changing with every passing season.

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski (cor-JOCK Jewel-CUFF-ski) was taken to this area by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear who had had a drea along with other Lakota leaders to make this sacred Black Hills mountain a monument, like Mount Rushmore, to show “that red man has great heroes also.” Korczak, a self-taught artist from Boston, believed in Standing Bear’s dream and in 1946, with almost no money, banked on his own belief that “you can do anything if you work hard and never quit.”

When you come to the welcome center at the memorial, you can watch a short film, “Dynamite and Dreams,” explaining the life and unbelievable times Korczak had making that dream come true while working on the mountain. Before his death in 1982, the sculptor had indeed shown he’d never quit and had blocked out on the mountain, the rough contours of Crazy Horse astride his horse pointing to his home, declaring “my lands are where my dead lie buried.”

In 1998, the Ziolkowski family and their supporters dedicated the carving of the Lakota chief’s giant face. They started a scholarship fund for Native American students and a museum wing. The sculptors’ octogenarian widow, Ruth, is president and chief executive officer of the memorial. She is often the voice at the other end of the phone when you call the office. Many family members work for the Foundation, the Learning Center, and even the family owned Crazy Horse Tree Farm. Korczak’s daughter not only works on the mountain, helping with the new horizontal “hammer” driller, but also runs the “Palomino Station,” a farm for geriatric horses near the family home.

When I had a chance to meet Ruth, I was stuck by how energized and enthusiastic she still is about the sculpture, the Memorial, and the Education and Cultural Center.

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“Selling imagination is what we do.” said Ruth about their dedication to the project. “I was thirteen years old when I met Korczak, eighteen years younger then he and 21 when I came to the mountain. We farmed and survived through many hard times but our dream never wavered. I had 10 children and last year three generations were working at this memorial.”

Carving on the mountain has never stopped but the giant sculpture is not the only work in progress here. Today, Standing Bear and Korczak’s dream has grown into a university-level learning center and 40,000-square-foot visitor complex. Over 1,000 acres are owned by the non-profit foundation where Ruth and seven of her 10 children carry on the work. All of these accomplishments are funded by visitor admissions and donations only. The foundation scholarship fund has awarded nearly $1.5 million since the first $250 grant in 1978. True to their mission statement ideals of “a bridge from reservation to college,” the summer of 2010 saw the Indian University of North America Living and Learning Center welcome its first 38 students.

If, like me, you’ve been to the memorial, it is well worth another visit. Explore the welcome center, where you will learn about the progress of the mountain carving and history of Crazy Horse and Korczak’s lives. The Indian Museum of North America has a large collection of artifacts and contemporary artwork on display, including many on-site artists selling their work. The year-round displays include historic Edward Curtis photography and the studio of Korczak, filled with examples of his sculptures. I enjoyed a tasty meal in the full-service “Laughing Water” restaurant. There is also a buffet and snack shop with free coffee. A wonderful museum gift shop offers American Indian-made items and Crazy Horse Memorial souvenirs.

I was lucky enough to go up to the mountain face during a special event while I was there, but if you come the first weekend in June, you can walk up to the arm during the 10K (6.2 mile round-trip) hike, which is the only time visitors are allowed to walk to the mountain. For $4, tourists can ride from the visitor’s center to the foot of the mountain and for $125 you can get a van ride to what will be Crazy Horse’s outstretched arm. The Memorial is open every day and from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October, there is a laser-light program “Legends in Light” shown at dark nightly. So visit South Dakota’s Crazy Horse’s Memorial, a true cultural and educational hands-on experience for all ages … ever-changing and evolving with each dynamite blast and sculptor’s chisel.

When I traveled to South Dakota recently, I wanted to see a landmark I’d visited years ago, the Crazy Horse Memorial. It had impressed me back then, both for its history and its unbelievable presence in the Black Hills. When I saw the mountain again, I was even more awed.

Most man-made monuments do not change over the years, other then normal aging, but the same cannot be said for this South Dakota wonder. Here, rising out of the rock-mountains, above tree line, along US highway 16/385 between Hill City and Custer is a remarkable sight. Boldly gazing out across the landscape stretching out before him, is the regal facial image of Crazy Horse, famous Lakota leader. It is the largest ongoing mountain carving in the world, constantly changing with every passing season.

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski (cor-JOCK Jewel-CUFF-ski) was taken to this area by Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear who had had a drea along with other Lakota leaders to make this sacred Black Hills mountain a monument, like Mount Rushmore, to show “that red man has great heroes also.” Korczak, a self-taught artist from Boston, believed in Standing Bear’s dream and in 1946, with almost no money, banked on his own belief that “you can do anything if you work hard and never quit.”

When you come to the welcome center at the memorial, you can watch a short film, “Dynamite and Dreams,” explaining the life and unbelievable times Korczak had making that dream come true while working on the mountain. Before his death in 1982, the sculptor had indeed shown he’d never quit and had blocked out on the mountain, the rough contours of Crazy Horse astride his horse pointing to his home, declaring “my lands are where my dead lie buried.”

In 1998, the Ziolkowski family and their supporters dedicated the carving of the Lakota chief’s giant face. They started a scholarship fund for Native American students and a museum wing. The sculptors’ octogenarian widow, Ruth, is president and chief executive officer of the memorial. She is often the voice at the other end of the phone when you call the office. Many family members work for the Foundation, the Learning Center, and even the family owned Crazy Horse Tree Farm. Korczak’s daughter not only works on the mountain, helping with the new horizontal “hammer” driller, but also runs the “Palomino Station,” a farm for geriatric horses near the family home.

When I had a chance to meet Ruth, I was stuck by how energized and enthusiastic she still is about the sculpture, the Memorial, and the Education and Cultural Center.

“Selling imagination is what we do.” said Ruth about their dedication to the project. “I was thirteen years old when I met Korczak, eighteen years younger then he and 21 when I came to the mountain. We farmed and survived through many hard times but our dream never wavered. I had 10 children and last year three generations were working at this memorial.”

Carving on the mountain has never stopped but the giant sculpture is not the only work in progress here. Today, Standing Bear and Korczak’s dream has grown into a university-level learning center and 40,000-square-foot visitor complex. Over 1,000 acres are owned by the non-profit foundation where Ruth and seven of her 10 children carry on the work. All of these accomplishments are funded by visitor admissions and donations only. The foundation scholarship fund has awarded nearly $1.5 million since the first $250 grant in 1978. True to their mission statement ideals of “a bridge from reservation to college,” the summer of 2010 saw the Indian University of North America Living and Learning Center welcome its first 38 students.

If, like me, you’ve been to the memorial, it is well worth another visit. Explore the welcome center, where you will learn about the progress of the mountain carving and history of Crazy Horse and Korczak’s lives. The Indian Museum of North America has a large collection of artifacts and contemporary artwork on display, including many on-site artists selling their work. The year-round displays include historic Edward Curtis photography and the studio of Korczak, filled with examples of his sculptures. I enjoyed a tasty meal in the full-service “Laughing Water” restaurant. There is also a buffet and snack shop with free coffee. A wonderful museum gift shop offers American Indian-made items and Crazy Horse Memorial souvenirs.

I was lucky enough to go up to the mountain face during a special event while I was there, but if you come the first weekend in June, you can walk up to the arm during the 10K (6.2 mile round-trip) hike, which is the only time visitors are allowed to walk to the mountain. For $4, tourists can ride from the visitor’s center to the foot of the mountain and for $125 you can get a van ride to what will be Crazy Horse’s outstretched arm. The Memorial is open every day and from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October, there is a laser-light program “Legends in Light” shown at dark nightly. So visit South Dakota’s Crazy Horse’s Memorial, a true cultural and educational hands-on experience for all ages … ever-changing and evolving with each dynamite blast and sculptor’s chisel.