A Postage Stamp of Remembrance
The United States Post Office at Crazy Horse had been established in 1968 with Ruth Ziolkowski as postmistress. As a private citizen, Ruth Ziolkowski received a salary of $1.00 per year. Subsequently, on Korczak Ziolkowski’s 73rd Birthday, September 6th, 1981, the Crazy Horse stamp design was unveiled at Crazy Horse Memorial. The stamp was issued as part of the Great American Series of stamps and, like the Memorial, was intended to honor American Indians in the way that it represented an often untold chapter of American History.
At the unveiling, U.S. Postmaster General Eugene C. Hagburg shared the following:
“Actions speak louder than the most eloquent words. And what we say here this morning is not nearly as important as what we are doing. This is because the stamp we are dedicating honors a noble person—a noble people—and it will travel around the world communicating to one and all that the United States Postal Service recognizes Crazy Horse not only as a great American Indian leader, but also as a Great American . . . the first, by tradition, goes to the President of the United States, and Mr. Reagan’s will be delivered to the White House. The second I’m pleased to present to Mr. Ziolkowski, the third to the Indian Museum of North America here at Crazy Horse and the fourth to the U.S. Post Office at Crazy Horse . . . ”
The 13-cent Crazy Horse stamp was officially released on January 15th, 1982. As shared in his book, Korczak: Storyteller in Stone, Robb DeWall notes that over 150,000 individual orders for First Day of Issue cancellations for the stamp were processed in conjunction with the U.S. Post Office at Crazy Horse. In addition, over 225,000 First Day of Issue cancellation orders from large commercial dealers were processed in Washington D.C. (55).
Ultimately, the unveiling of the Crazy Horse stamp, along with the official release of the stamp at Crazy Horse Memorial, served as a significant pairing of events for the Memorial and the Memorial Foundation’s mission “to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians.” These events and the subsequent interest generated in both the stamp and the progress of the Memorial illustrated a new-level of public interest in the humanitarian and educational project. It would not be long before the Memorial would magnet another significant series of events that were built around a state-wide push for reconciliation and celebration of the very first Native Americans’ Day in the United States . . .
This article is the twenty-fourth 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