Education is the key to future success of Native American youth who are faced with surviving and competing in today’s society. The Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is committed to taking an active role in their educational endeavors.
When Korczak Ziolkowski returned to the Black Hills after accepting the challenge to carve a memorial “so the White Man would know the Red Man has great heroes also,” he discovered local businesses displaying signs that said, “We do not serve Indians.” The local hostility toward Native Americans ran very deep.
Korczak quickly saw that the mountain carving could ultimately serve a larger purpose. He envisioned the mountain carving as a symbol that would instill pride in the Native American. But he also saw it as a means to promote reconciliation among the races and, further, as a revenue source that would fund an educational institution for Native Americans. Korczak, an orphan who was largely self-taught, and who funded his own schooling, strongly believed that education was an important key to resolving the dilemma of being a Native American in a white society.
When the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation was established in 1948, education was a key component of its charter. The Foundation’s mission statement 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 to the Lakota leader Crazy Horse to represent all North American Indian; by providing educational and cultural programming; by acting as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts and crafts through the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Educational and Cultural Center; and by establishing and operating, when practical, a university and medical training center for Native Americans.