honors all Indigenous people of North America . American Indian history and cultures are shared through museums , cultural programs and the world ’ s largest mountain carving in progress .
The Crazy Horse Memorial ® dream began in 1939 when Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear asked sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski to create a memorial to pay tribute to American Indians and the world would know “ the red man has great heroes , also .” Lakota warrior Crazy Horse was chosen to be the subject of the mountain sculpture .
On June 3 , 1948 , the first blast took place with five survivors of the Battle of Little Bighorn among the spectators . Korczak and Henry Standing Bear decided the carving would be the centerpiece of the memorial ’ s educational and humanitarian goals . Ziolkowski declared it would be a project “ for the people and by the people ,” turning down government funding offers . The memorial still operates solely on donations and charitable contributions .
In the early years , Korczak , his wife , Ruth , and their 10 children were responsible for mountain progress and operations at the visitor center . Together , Korczak and Ruth prepared detailed books laying out the future plans of the memorial .
In 1982 Korczak passed away at the age of 74 , leaving Ruth and the children to continue the work . As Ruth took the lead as
President / CEO , the decision was made to shift focus to Crazy Horse ’ s face . The June 3 , 1998 , dedication of Crazy Horse ’ s face proved this a good decision as onlookers gathered to see the profile against the Black Hills sky . In 2010 , the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation realized another goal : operating the Indian University of North America ®.
In 2014 , Ruth passed away but had laid the groundwork to ensure the memorial was in good hands . Recent progress on the planned 641 ’ long , 563 ’ tall sculpture includes the revealing of the shape of Crazy Horse ’ s left hand and much of his arm , as well as granite removed from the horse ’ s mane and surveying for rock removal on Crazy Horse ’ s hairline on both sides .
The Indian Museum of North America ® is home to a large collection of art and artifacts reflecting the diverse histories and cultures of over 300 Native Nations . The Ziolkowski Family life museum features a view into the original log home and studio of Korczak and Ruth and their family . At the mountain carving gallery you can get a closer view of the work the mountain carving entails now .
It is suggested to plan several hours for a visit . Dining options are available on-site at Laughing Water Restaurant ® and the snack shop , operated by the memorial ’ s official gift shop and food service , Korczak ’ s Heritage , Inc .
Visit crazyhorsememorial . org for further information or call 605-673-4681 . Memorial visitors are welcome year-round !