The Blue Bird Woman’s Song

By: Hillary L. Presecan -Administrative and Collections Assistant for INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® at Crazy Horse Memorial. If you were to ask folks around Pine Ridge Reservation, at local art and cultural centers, or at any community event about Nellie Two Bulls, many would smile and share a heartwarming story on how “Grandma Nellie” shared Lakota songs and cultural traditions with them, and how much of an impact her knowledge made in their lives.

Nellie Two Bulls, also known as Zintkala To Win (Blue Bird Woman) lived for over 79 years on the Pine Ridge Reservation fulfilling the vision she had of giving the gift of songs and stories and doing her part in preserving the Lakota culture. As a direct decedent of Chief Man Afraid of His Horse, she became a strong Indigenous voice for her people and her culture.

Nellie Two Bulls taught at the Red Cloud Indian School for over 20 years. She was a board member for KILI radio and a Tribal Council member representing the Wakpammi District.  She was on the advisory board for Journey’s Museum in Rapid City where her holographic image is featured in a storytelling exhibit.  Rapid City named a day after both her and her husband, Matthew.

Along with her impressive record of serving the community and her people, Nellie has been honored through awards from numerous organizations to include “The Northern Plains Tribal Arts,” “A living Teaser Award,” a lifetime achievement award from “The Black Hills Pow Wow Association,” an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Oglala Lakota College and a “First People Fund Spirit Award.”

Nellie was quoted in the WOLE (link below) describing her art form as being given the “Ability to sing and tell stories about my people, the Oglala Lakota. I have spent the majority of my life telling stories, and singing the traditional songs. This is my contribution to preserving our culture.”

Nellie was a friend to the Ziolkowski Family, and a close friend of Ruth Ziolkowski. Ruth said, “Nellie was a remarkable lady and an inspiration to people and to me personally”. Nellie and her husband, Matt, were among the first true friends of both Korczak and Ruth Ziolkowski. The spirit of their lasting friendship is still felt today by the people who work at the Indian Museum of North America at Crazy Horse Memorial.

Though Nellie left this world in February 2007, her spirit lives on through the lives she touched and through the songs and stories she left behind from which future generations share, learn and grow.

In honor of Nellie, THE INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® has on display a handbag created by Nellie herself, and a watercolor portrait of Nellie by Vic Runnels. This watercolor is titled, “The Blue Bird Woman,” it captures the spirit Nellie possessed when sharing her culture with the world around her. These items are located in the Old Wing of the Museum next to the bead display before entering the gift shop. Learn more about Nellie at:—oglala-lakota.html, and

  • “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.