Never Forget Your Dreams!!!


The Crazy Horse Memorial is a huge rock carving in South Dakota that dwarfs Mount Rushmore. In fact, the entire carving of Mount Rushmore could fit in the flowing hair of Crazy Horse. This monumental endeavor was started by one man, Korczak Ziolkowski, and later he was joined by his wife Ruth and their ten children – and the work continues today with a new generation, more than 30 years after his death.  I find this story awe inspiring that a man had a vision so big that it inspired his whole family and a greater community at large to pursue something so epic that it could outlast us all!

And now it’s a huge honor to have a very special guest on our forum to give us some insight into one of the most inspiring dreams ever embarked upon. Luressa (Ziolkowski) Schultz, granddaughter of Crazy Horse founders Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski, joins us to share her insight into this epic undertaking and to field your questions and comments.

The following are Luressa’s words. This is a special opportunity so please feel free to type in comments and questions of Luressa below.



Author Luressa Schultz and her grandmother Ruth Ziolkowski.

Author Luressa Schultz and her grandmother Ruth Ziolkowski.

To me, Crazy Horse represents so much more than a mountain, it is a way of life, a value system. Having the privilege to grow up in the shadow of the mountain has taught me humility, hard work, hope and gratitude. I also learned to put others before myself, to give myself to something greater than myself, and to have an appreciation for others who are different from myself.

I like to think of the mountain as a book cover to the amazing story that is told by Native American culture and the rest of what the memorial has to offer. Crazy Horse is largely an educational experience, for anyone willing to learn about the history and plight of this beautiful culture and people. The memorial consists of the Native American Museum of North America, and the educational Cultural Center. As well, the Indian University of North America was started here 5 years ago, which currently brings in students for a full summer semester of classes and internship. However, the memorial has many more long range plans including a medical center and year round university.

I also believe that many people find inspiration in the story of Korczak and Ruth, my grandparents, and the fortitude and courage they had to dream of something so big, and to carry it out. I think that it represents hope to many, and I believe that their spirit is something that keeps the rest of us working so hard.


Crazy Horse Timeline

The first blast on the mountain was June 3rd, 1948. Crazy Horse’s face was completed on the 50th anniversary of the mountain carving. We are currently in the 67th year of work and we are working on finishing the “blocking out” process of the front of the mountain. The mountain crew works 5-6 days a week, year round. The next phase of work is measured to take 14 years, and involved completing Crazy Horse’s hand, shoulder and hair.

In the past, we were unable to determine a finish date. However, it is our goal to provide an estimated time table to the interested public. We currently have two engineering firms consulting with us on the process, cost and estimated date for the completion of the mountain carving. That information will be released when the process is complete.


Ruth Ziolkowski with four of her granddaughters  (L-R)  Alisha, Alexandria, Ashley, and Luressa

Ruth Ziolkowski with four of her granddaughters (L-R) Alisha, Alexandria, Ashley, and Luressa

Family Business

My mom (Viga) was actually born at Crazy Horse, in fact its kind of a fun fact that the room she was born in has now been converted into her office. There are still several of my aunts and uncles who live on the property.


Carrying On The Legacy

I began helping at Crazy Horse when I was 7 years old. At first working during my summers was out of convenience. However, as I have grown up, working here became a passion of mine. I think all of us grandkids have been very fortunate. Our parents have always let us choose our level of involvement. I tried working other places, but it never seemed to fit. Most of my generation have worked at Crazy Horse at one point or another. Some stay involved and others move on. But all of us have had to go through the same application process as any other employee to get a job. I always thought that was funny, but I can respect that now.



Our year round staff is about 80 people. However, in the summer there are up to 220 employees on property. I have worked every summer as a waitress in the restaurant at Crazy Horse. However, I am currently in my final year of my doctorate of physical therapy. As such, my school has taken me away from home, but I enjoy getting to serve as an ambassador for Crazy Horse everywhere I go. I try to stay involved with our fundraising activities, our Christmas Pine Ridge reservation toy donations and getting to call into board meetings if possible.


How To Get Involved

Crazy Horse Memorial is a not-for-profit organization and as such, all of our funds come through donations or through the entrance fees to get into the memorial. However, there are many ways to be involved in the work at Crazy Horse. Many of the items in our museums are donations, and several of our summer employees are volunteers. We really appreciate the support of our visitors, and we would not be able to continue our work if it weren’t for people believing in the dream of Crazy Horse. We also have a Facebook, where people can keep up with our progress, and share any articles or information they find interesting.


Never Forget

Never Forget Your Dreams

Unbeknownst to me, my childhood at Crazy Horse instilled grandeur views of the possibilities this world beholds. Deep inside, I have always known I can accomplish what I set my heart to. I was also taught that it was imperative to set my heart toward worthy causes. As I have grown up and come to know new environments, I have learned that this attitude is not as widely held. I have learned that I am in fact part of a minority that has gotten to see that truth lived out.

I believe that individuals are made to use their God given abilities to dream and imagine the world as it could be, and then believe that through their actions they can make those dream come to fruition, and I can thank my family for that.



Please feel free to post comments or questions here directly to Luressa!!

All Things Possible,

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Comments (12)

  1. Tim

    Wow, I had no idea that the whole project was so huge. Thank you for the information. Such an endeavor! Happy Holidays to the project

  2. ChristopherShowerman

    Happy Holidays everyone!

    You’re right Tim!! All this time I always thought it was only a monument but Crazy Horse has expanded into so many different things!

    Luressa, do you all do anything out of the ordinary around the holidays to celebrate there at Crazy Horse? Are there Native American customs or traditions that you do there during the winter or New Year?

  3. Susan Parcheta

    Wow…awesome post. Thanks for sharing all that! Truly ATP… Sue

    Christmas blessings to all the forum visitors 🙂

  4. I don’t have any questions, but I have visited the monument two or three times in my life (I don’t often get to South Dakota) to check on the progress. It is a huge undertaking and I’m impressed that the family is committed to seeing it completed – which in and of itself is a great tribute to Korczak Ziolkowski’s vision and how he must have been (and still is) adored and loved. Good luck and Happy New Year to everyone!

    • Luressa Z.

      I’m sorry I’m slow on the response, but we are so thankful for you support! My grandpa was a biit of a firey personality, people either loved him or hated him. But over the last few decades we have seen a huge increase in support for his dream, and for Chief Standing Bear as well (as their dream was the same thing). We hope to see you soon!

  5. Tim

    I hope that everyone had a nice Christmas. Hard to believe that we only have a few days left in the year and then it is tax season again! Comes by too quick at times.

    I have been doing a lot of reading on the Crazy Horse Memorial Facebook page. Tons of information and interesting reading there. I would encourage everyone to take a look if they have not already.

    Speaking of interesting reading. Dave, I have been reading up on your blog. Being a gym rat and a person who went through a lengthy intestinal infection as a child, I can relate to much of what you write about. And it was while reading your blog I realized that my journey of working out and physical fitness is a lot like the Crazy Horse Memorial. Its probably going to take a full time staff of 80 and nearly as many years to make me look like I was carved out of stone!

    Happy New Year everyone!


  6. Alex

    Thanks Luressa and Chris for sharing this great story!

    Happy New Year and the best of luck to everyone!

  7. ChristopherShowerman

    I second Alex! Thanks for this wonderful story!!

    Question for you Luressa: Until you mentioned it, I had no idea that there was a university there as well! Can you talk a bit about the Indian University of North America – the curriculum available and the goals of the University?

    • Luressa Z.

      Sorry I am so slow on the response! Finally getting everything together.

      But yes! The univerisity – The Indian University of North America – is currently a summer program. We admit 40-50 students each summer for the last 5 years. These students are typically Native American (or living on a reservation), and they must be entering their first year of college the next fall semester. Our program is run in conjuction and support from the University of South Dakota, who provides professor positions, staff and educational guidance in order for our program to give accredited hours to students.

      Our curriculum consists of a 20 hour a week paid internship, the students spend time giving tours and history education to visitors, working in the gift shop, cultural center or restaurant. The classroom based activities include a full semesters worth of credits of Native American history, literature, math and another communication class. The main goal of our currriculum is to provide an introduction and support system for theiir college careers. By participating in our program, students are able to prepare for the expectations of college as well as get ahead in their studies. Our program has had an excellent rate for our students staying in college. This is the biggest challlene for many Native American students, as statistically speaking they are the most likely to drop out of college in their first semester. So, we have had success in that arena, which long term will equate to more Native American students attaining a 4 year college education.

      As I said, our long term plans are to have a complete four year university and the progression of that is still in the planning stages.

  8. Susan Parcheta

    Happy New Year 2015.– I’m so glad you are highlighting this project, Chris. I hope to spend some time now in Jan, to explore this a little more, as I’m deeply interested in Native American organizations and causes. Will check out the FB page and hope to find Tim there (hopefully) Big smile. Alex, good to hear from you here. I agree about Dave’s blog. I reposted it. So inspiring about walking. And, I’m interested, as well, in the university, Luressa. By the way, that’s a beautiful name.

    • Luressa Z.


      I am so glad to hear of your interest! I talked about IUNA (the university) in Chris’ post above. If you have more questions, please feel free to ask! I will remember to check back more often.