When he arrived at Crazy Horse, Korczak, almost 40, willingly had dedicated the rest of his life to keeping his promises to the American Indian people. About the last thing he expected was to get married and have 10 children. The turn of events made him equally happy and proud, and Crazy Horse became a family story.
Although he believed in a “do-it-yourself” work ethic, he thought it was carrying it a bit too far the snowy night he had to deliver one of the youngsters. When the doctor could not get to Crazy Horse in time, Korczak delivered his and Ruth’s daughter himself.
Several of the children — five boys and five girls — have names reflecting their Polish ancestry of which the Boston-born sculptor was very proud.
Korczak kidded that he had made a bargain with Ruth — if she would have the children he would name them!
Later, when there were so many Ziolkowskis in school at one time, Korczak decided the practical thing to do was to open his own school. So he moved a one-room school house to Crazy Horse, where several of the youngsters got their grade school education from a certified teacher.
The self-taught sculptor also was a teacher at heart, and he schooled his family in every aspect of Crazy Horse, including the special skills of mountain carving.
The boys grew up helping him on the mountain, the girls assisting Ruth in the ever expanding visitor complex. Everyone helped with the big dairy farm, the lumber mill and the multitude of other year-around activities at Crazy Horse, where, since 1947, the construction has never stopped.
As they reached adulthood, the Ziolkowski sons and daughters demonstrated that Korczak and Ruth imparted to their family not only knowledge and skill, but also a deep love of the Crazy Horse dream. All have been free to leave, but seven remain involved in the project today, working under Ruth’s direction. Grandchildren now help, too.
The second generation of Ziolkowskis began writing a new chapter of the unique Crazy Horse story when Korczak died October 20, 1982. His parting words to his wife were, “You must work on the mountain-but go slowly so you do it right.” The torch was passed, and Ruth and her sons and daughters, together with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation board of directors, now are guiding Crazy Horse and the ongoing progress.
Korczak’s remarkable family is motivated by their individual and collective dedication, determination and courage to carry on Korczak’s work. They are supported by his great faith and confidence in them, schooled by his years of instruction, toughened by his example and uplifted by his sense of humor. They also are guided by his detailed plans and scale models and inspired by his life, vision, legacy, and most importantly, by what he often referred to as “the beauty and justice of the Crazy Horse dream.”