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.
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.
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 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,