Edward Curtis Prints

Crazy Horse believed having his picture taken would take a piece of his soul, for this reason there is no photo of the great Lakota warrior. If there is one photographer’s work that could support this belief, Edward Curtis’s collection of Native American photographs would be it. These photos capture not only a time period but the beauty in everyday life of American Indians across the West. Some photos convey so much emotion that it is easy to see why Crazy Horse held the beliefs he did.

Edward S. Curtis was an American ethnologist and photographer; in 1906 J.P. Morgan paid $75,000 to commission Curtis to produce a series on Native Americans. The 20 year project became a passion for Curtis, who knew that Native American culture and traditions were vanishing. As he traveled across the country he encountered hundreds of tribes and was often invited to join in rituals, study their languages and learn the stories of the tribes. Along with the 25 sets and 500 original prints, Curtis captured more than 10,000 recordings of songs and stories and used motion picture film to record parts of ceremonies.

The 25 volume set of photos were almost immediately recognized as an invaluable record and considered a profound tribute to North American Indians. Curtis gained national recognition and was a celebrated photographer for many years. As time went on, his work began to receive criticism for Curtis’s use of staging. In a time period where traditional Native American life was being intertwined with western ways, Curtis would have his subjects remove such items as suspenders, boots, hats and parasols in an effort to show a more historically accurate representation of his subject’s heritage. It was also common practice for Curtis to pay his subjects and stage scenes. The images that depict proud Native American warriors were especially criticized since life for most Native Americans in the early 1900’s consisted of living on reservations with little dignity, rights and freedoms. Other critics applauded his work of removing western influence and showing an accurate representation of traditional culture. In the end, his use of inaccurate traditional dress and rumors of staged ceremonies knocked the renowned photographer off his pedestal. By the time the project was completed in 1930, Curtis’s fame faded and most of his wealth was gone and he lived out the rest of his life as a gold prospector and second cameraman in Hollywood.

Crazy Horse Memorial recognizes Curtis’s work for the talented artist he was, and is honored to have hundreds of his prints on display. The prints were mailed to the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation in several boxes, with all of the prints stacked neatly on top of one another. Once the donor was identified and the items authenticated it was up to the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® staff and the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation to ensure the prints were properly framed and preserved. It was through the generous donation of Bill Turner, that the Curtis print preservation project was completed. Today visitors can enjoy these breathtaking photographs in the lower level of the NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER® at Crazy Horse Memorial.

Paha Ska’s Tipi on Display at Crazy Horse Memorial

Tipi1copyrightCHMFThe tipi was the primary choice of residence for many of the Great Plains tribes. Accordingly, “tipi” is the Lakota word for dwelling, housing, building or residence. Because it was easy to deconstruct, pack up, and transport, the tipi proved an invaluable part of the nomadic lifestyle of Great Plains tribes – especially as these tribes moved across the land in pursuit of the buffalo. In addition, the tipi provided shelter against the winds, rains, sun and cold, while still remaining temporary and moveable. The tipi allowed for protection from the elements without altering the landscape – an important point that lends itself to better understanding the Plains peoples’ reverent relationship with nature. Traditionally, women were primarily responsible for preparing the hides of which the tipi was constructed as well as the day to day care of the tipi once it was completed and in use. Likewise, men were most often responsible for decorating the outside of the tipi once it was finished. Working within such traditional gender roles, Paha Ska painted the tipi that is currently on display in the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® at Crazy Horse Memorial.

Well-known Oglala Lakota artist Orville Francis Salway (1923 -2005), or Paha Ska as he was named by Ben Black Elk, was born near White Clay, Nebraska, and lived most of his life in the Black Hills area, starting in Rapid City and later moving to Keystone where he sold his artwork and posed for pictures in traditional regalia. The colorful images on the Paha Ska tipi depict the intricate vision of Lakota Holy Man, Nicholas Black Elk. In many ways, Paha Ska utilizes this piece of art to interpret, preserve, and share an important story of Black Elk’s spiritual vision. In addition to the tipi, many of Paha Ska’s other art works are on display throughout the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® at Crazy Horse Memorial.

Crazy Horse Memorial is a family-friendly destination where American Indians and active members of the United States Military are always admitted free of charge. The Memorial, which is open 365 days a year, is the center of a multi-faceted Foundation mission, “to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians.” For more information about Crazy Horse Memorial or any of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation’s ongoing educational and cultural offerings, please call 605-673-4681.

American Bison Exhibit

Learning about the American Bison
At Crazy Horse Memorial

09082015BisonExhibitPhotosCHMAMAs her father watches, a young curly-haired girl stands transfixed by the sight before her.  With mouth agape, the seven-year old cautiously leans in and then stops, motionless, eye-to-eye with the large, horned bison.  After a close inspection of the large animal, the girl’s expression of curious awe slowly transforms into a wide smile of recognition that she turns to share with her father.  The two let go of a collective laugh and then continue browsing the exhibit.  A few moments later, the girl’s father can be seen concentrating intently as he runs his fingers across a luminescent screen – taking in an abundance of information on the history of the American bison.  This was the scene recently in the NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER® at Crazy Horse Memorial.

The NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER®, a distinctive stone building completed in 1996 from rock removed from the Crazy Horse Memorial Mountain Carving, provides a number of unique educational and cultural opportunities geared toward enhancing the visitors' experience at Crazy Horse Memorial.  One of the newest opportunities for visitors includes the Exhibit of the American Bison. This newly-acquired exhibit shares the history of bison throughout North America from prehistoric beginnings to near extinction.  The interactive exhibit also tells of those who helped to save the bison near the end of the 19th-century and explores the cultural significance of the bison to various North American tribes.  Visitors can browse information about the American bison on a user-friendly electronic kiosk and, also, get up close and personal with a taxidermy bison – affectionately known as “Bruno.”  

The father and daughter duo walk hand-in-hand up the winding stairs.  Before reaching the top step, the young girl turns to wave goodbye to her new, four-legged friend.  Realizing that this experience will resonate for years within their family, her father once again smiles.  The pair continues up the stairs and out the door into the bright sunshine-filled afternoon.

Crazy Horse Memorial is a family-friendly destination where American Indians and active members of the United States Military are always admitted free of charge.  The Memorial, which is open 365 days a year, is the center of a multi-faceted Foundation mission, “to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians.”  For more information about Crazy Horse Memorial or any of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation’s ongoing educational and cultural offerings, please call 605-673-4681.

David Humphreys Miller Collection

David Humphreys Miller’s deep love for art and history fashioned the unique and fascinating life of this pioneering Ohio native. In 1930, and at just 16 years of age, David Humphrey Miller was given his parents blessing and headed West for Indian Country. His passion for Indian lore, as well as the mystique surrounding General George Armstrong Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn, proved to be deciding factors in his decisions to go West. He wanted to learn more about the famed “Last Stand,” speak to Indian survivors, and most of all, paint the portraits of these aged warriors. His suitcases loaded with paints and brushes, he roamed the reservation in the Dakotas, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming and Oklahoma.

Miller lived among these aged warriors, learned their native tongues (he taught himself 14 Indian Languages), and painted their portraits. In the past, they had been leery of being painted or photographed because they believed that part of their spirit was captured in the image. Each of the 72 extraordinary “Custer Survivors” portraits reflect a deep sense of pride, honor, and respect for these gallant warriors.

The INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA © at Crazy Horse Memorial has reproductions of the 72 portraits David Humphreys Miller created. David & four survivors of the Battle of Little Big Horn were present for the first blast on the Mountain in 1938.


Steve & Molly Dancey Collection

This collection of 19th and early 20th century photographs showing Native American life is featured in THE INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA®. The Steve and Molly Dancey Collection includes many photographs taken by J. H. Grabill, as well as other photographers. Many of the Native Americans appearing in the photographs are identified by name, which has proven to be a valuable resource for historical and genealogical research.

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  • “No one is ever wrong who desires to do that which is not required of them to do — and that which is of a noble purpose. The purpose of Crazy Horse is noble.”
    Korczak Ziolkowski / Sculptor
  • “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes also.”
    Chief Henry Standing Bear
  • “When the legends die, the dreams end. When the dreams end, there is no more greatness.”
    Korczak Ziolkowski / Sculptor
  • “The Important thing is that we never stop. That’s the main thing. And if you looked at it as strictly a view of being finished, you could get awfully distracted waiting for that day to come. This way, you’re pleased with every little step of progress that you make.”
    Ruth Ziolkowski / Sculptor's Wife
  • “One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk.”
    Crazy Horse
  • “By carving Crazy Horse, if I can give back to the Indian some of his pride and create a means to keep alive his culture and heritage, my life will have been worthwile.”
    Korczak Ziolkowski / Sculptor
  • “He left everything so we can carry on his work, and that’s just what we’re going to do. We’re dedicated to that. His whole life would be wasted if the mountain carving and the humanitarian goals are not completed.”
    Ruth Ziolkowski / Sculptor's Wife
  • “My lands are where my dead lie buried.”
    Crazy Horse
  • “If it weren’t for each and every one you, whether your gift was small or large monetarily, whether it was friendship and encouragement, without you we wouldn’t be here…”
    Ruth Ziolkowski / Sculptor's Wife
  • “Standing Bear explained that the Indian has a concept of honoring their great heroes that’s totally different from the white man’s. It was difficult for me to understand at first…The Indian uses the direct approach. He says: that man was my ancestor, and he was a great man, so we should honor him-I would not lie or cheat because I am his blood”
    Korczak Ziolkowski / Sculptor

Crazy Horse Memorial
12151 Avenue of the Chiefs
Crazy Horse, SD 57730-8900

(605) 673-4681


Upcoming Events

  • Memorial Weekend
    May 25-28

    Memorial Weekend <br />May 26-29,<br /> 2017
    Native American’s across this great nation have served and sacrificed in the United States Military, join us to honor all fallen heroes who fought and protected our freedom. American Indian artists will be featured throughout the Welcome Center. Admission to the Memorial will be waived with 3 cans of food per person.
  • Legends in Light
    May 25-Sep 30

    Legends in Light<br /> May 26-Oct 1<br />
    This spectacular light show tells the story of the Memorial in laser lights projected onto the Mountain. You will be treated to the story of Chief Henry Standing Bear’s invitation to Korczak, Ruth’s contributions and special features of many Native American heroes. This must see show is featured nightly at dark, for sun down times click here:
  • Native Americans’Day
    Oct 8

    Native Americans’ Day  Oct 10, 2016
    Governor George S. Mickelson and the SD legislature declared 1990 as the “Year of Reconciliation”, the day formerly known as Columbus Day became Native American Day. Native American Day at Crazy Horse Memorial is celebrated by planned activities for kids, program and performers, Educator of the Year is awarded and (weather permitting) a mountain blast. Admission is waved to the Memorial with 3 cans of food per person.