The Dream Remains
In 1953, at the age of 79, Chief Henry Standing Bear was laid to rest in the Holy Cross Episcopal Cemetery at Pine Ridge. Although he passed over into the spirit world over sixty years ago, Standing Bear’s dream, shared and continued through the work of Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski, remains intact to this day. Standing Bear not only left behind a lasting legacy in the form of Crazy Horse Memorial, but he also left behind a life-long legacy of advocacy for Native American people.
Brule Lakota, Henry Standing Bear was the son of Chief George Standing Bear and Roaming Nation. He was also cousin to Crazy Horse. In addition, Standing Bear’s life spanned the Battle of the Little Big Horn, the Wounded Knee Massacre, and the Indian Reorganization ACT. He was also among the first Native Americans to attend Carlisle Indian School. The fact that his life was framed by such historic events proved to foreshadow that Chief Henry Standing Bear would himself become part of history.
Over the course of his life, Standing Bear proved to be a champion of social progress and education. He was a teacher on the Pine Ridge Reservation and on the Rosebud Reservation. He was an interpreter who translated for both Native and non-Native groups, and he made multiple trips to Washington D.C. in order to advocate for Native peoples. He also worked with Senator Francis Case on Indian Affairs and was an active member of the South Dakota Indian Affairs Commission at the time of his death.
Standing Bear was also a proponent of racial reconciliation. Accordingly, throughout his life he had a foot in both Native and non-Native worlds. Instead of being hindered by this, he utilized his cross-cultural identity to bridge understanding between the races. In “practicing what he preached,” Standing Bear developed a close relationship with Korczak Ziolkowski, whom he invited to carve the memorial in 1939 on behalf of a group of elders. Subsequently, the sculptor was so affected by his Native American friend that he carved a mahogany portrait of the Lakota Chieftain. This carving was eventually presented to President John F. Kennedy and is now in the Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston, Massachusetts.
Chief Henry Standing Bear was what is known to his people as an Intancan – a leader, and to those who follow the story of Crazy Horse Memorial, he will always be known as a dreamer – the original dreamer . . .
This article is the twelfth installment of a periodic chronology that will be published by the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation on the history of the Memorial.
By: Dr. Jason Murray for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation