Tuesday, July 09, 2013

South Dakota adventure part 5: Crazy Horse is incomplete, but still amazing

The Gnome of Victory and Celebration and a somewhat larger sculpture.

There’s one question asked by every visitor to the Crazy Horse Memorial. And there are two answers, according to our tour guide.

The massive carving in the Black Hills has been a work in progress since 1948, so our guide said every visitor asks when it will be completed.

If you ask Casmir Ziolkowski, son of original sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, he’ll tell you “Monday,” our guide said.

If you ask anyone else, they’ll say that they’re still years away -- but that the pace is increasing as more money comes in.

Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear officially started the project in 1948 to honor the culture, tradition and living heritage of North American Indians.

The statue, which will be the largest in the world when completed, is to show Crazy Horse pointing off into the distance from atop a horse.
Here's the model and the work in progress.

Several people told us to see Rushmore first, because if we instead started the day viewing the massive Crazy Horse project, we wouldn’t be impressed by the four presidents.

I wouldn’t say that’s true.  But to be sure, Rushmore is a carving on a mountainside. Crazy Horse is carving a mountain. 

Rushmore gets points for being completed in 14 years. Or, if not completed, reaching the point where work could be halted with a sense of completion. 

A baby born the year Crazy Horse started is eligible for Social Security this yea. The face is completed, and the horse and arm are sort of roughed out.
Zack, Lori, Caroline, Jeff, Aunt Kris and I enjoyed the tour.
Which is not to say that it is not awe-inspiring. And the story is fascinating.

The group overseeing the project has not accepted government money, raising money from admission fees, donations and museum proceeds. 

There has been some criticism that the group is more interested in collecting money than in carving, that that the Black Hills are sacred to the Indians and shouldn’t be carved and that Crazy Horse, who never sat for a photograph, would have objected to his image being carved in this way.

Hard to say. But there’s no doubt that the atmosphere is respectful and proud of the Indian culture. Let’s just say the Gnome of Victory and Celebration kept a low profile.

But he didn’t stay completely out of sight. There’s a spot where tourists can take some of the rocks blasted off the mountain –for a nominal donation – and the Gnome was climbing on the rocks to pose.
Was there any doubt the Gnome would pose here?

Another visitor walked up, looked at the Gnome and looked at me.

“It’s a long story,” I said.

“No, it’s OK,” the guy said. “I get it.”

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