Establishing Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation
Establishing Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation
“The culture and traditions of the conquered not infrequently have been lost and posterity has been deprived of a valuable record. Thus history has left its imprint on the Dakotas. The cultures and traditions of the North American Indian, in their sociological, political and economic progression, are in danger of being obliterated. Henry Standing Bear, a Sioux Chief, sensing this calamity, conceived the idea of an indestructible memorial to the Sioux Indian Nation in the form of a portrait likeness of the Sioux leader, Crazy Horse, carved out of the lasting granite of his Paha Sapa. To create this memorial he enlisted the sympathies of Korczak Ziolkowski, who already has given much of his time, energy, artistic skill and resources to the initial phases of such a project . . . As Mr. Ziolkowski has conceived it, this monument may well be the symbol, the impelling force to perpetuate the active memorial. To this end, he has proposed the creation of a memorial including both features on Crazy Horse Mountain, a hitherto unnamed peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and in the area adjacent thereto. It is to carry out these joint ideals that this corporation is formed.” And so read the opening pages of the 1948 “Preamble” to the Articles of Incorporation of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski came to the Black Hills of South Dakota in 1947 at the invitation of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear to carve a memorial to Oglala Lakota leader Crazy Horse. The sculptor and the Chief dedicated the remainder of their lives to furthering this noble dream. With Standing Bear’s death in 1953 and Korczak’s passing in 1982, this dream has continued to be carried forward by the Ziolkowski family and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
Crazy Horse Memorial, a cultural, educational, and humanitarian project dedicated to American Indians of all tribes, is governed by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation — a mission driven 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1948 that is managed by a diverse Board of Directors made up of a select membership of Native American and non-Native professionals throughout the State of South Dakota. The Foundation also consists of a national commission. The Federal Government granted the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation non-profit status in 1949.
As part of its charter, the Foundation does not accept state or federal funding. Admissions to the memorial fund work on the mountain as well as many educational and humanitarian efforts, and admission fees to the Memorial are always free to American Indians and active-duty military. Since its founding, Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation has remained committed to financial accountability. Such transparency recently earned Crazy Horse the GuideStar Exchange Silver Level Seal. GuideStar USA, Inc., one of the country’s premier information sources about nonprofits, showcases groups that maintain transparency to assure the public these organizations use their gifts wisely.
The land on which the Memorial sits is owned by the Foundation. Korczak purchased the original piece of land for Crazy Horse Memorial when he arrived in 1947. Over the years, the Ziolkowski family purchased additional property and donated large parcels to the Foundation. In addition, in the early 1950’s, a land exchange was completed with the Federal Government in which the Foundation acquired 328 acres around the Memorial, and in 1982 another exchange was completed for 369 additional acres. Korczak was once quoted as saying that it was “ironic that the Crazy Horse Foundation had to buy land from the State of South Dakota to give to the Federal Government in exchange for the land the government owned at Crazy Horse in order that the Crazy Horse Memorial could be carved – and could grow for the benefit of the Indian people from whom we took the land in the first place” (from Korczak: Storyteller in Stone).
“The mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians. The Foundation demonstrates its commitment to this endeavor by continuing the progress on the world’s largest sculptural undertaking by carving a memorial of Lakota leader Crazy Horse; by providing educational and cultural programming; by acting as a repository for American Indian artifacts, arts and crafts through the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Educational & Cultural Center; and by establishing and operating the Indian University of North America and, when practical, a medical training center for American Indians.”
This article is the eighth installment of a periodic chronology that will be published by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation on the history of the Memorial.
– Dr. Jason Murray for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation