The Mountain Carving Room

The Mountain Carving Room

The Mountain Carving Room at Crazy Horse Memorial is a wonderful visual tribute to the story of the Mountain. The story of Crazy Horse Memorial starts with a young man, who was determined to overcome adversity and a Lakota Chief who wanted a monument to honor his people, a vision which grew into a memorial honoring all North American Indians.

Korczak Ziolkowski, a Boston native born of Polish descent, started out in life already behind. Orphaned at one, he grew up in a series of foster homes. He learned early on if he needed or wanted something he would have to work hard to earn it. He started his artistic career learning woodworking and furniture making; then moved to the art of sculpture. In 1939, Korczak worked with Gutzon Borglum on the Shrine of Democracy sculpture, Mount Rushmore. Later that year Korczak's Carrara marble portrait, "Paderewski, Study of an Immortal," won first prize at the New York World's Fair. The attention and media coverage of his award prompted Chief Henry Standing Bear to write Korczak a letter appealing to the sculptor to create a memorial for the American Indians of North America.

The letter from Chief Henry Standing Bear is displayed in the Mountain Carving Room. He wrote to Korczak: "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also." Korczak would correspond with Chief Henry Standing Bear over the next several years. At age 34, Korczak volunteered to serve in World War II. At war’s end the invitation was accepted and Korczak dedicated the rest of his life to Crazy Horse Memorial. Over their years of correspondence the two had become great friends: the Mountain Carving Room displays the progress of this wonderful relationship including pictures of the visit Chief Standing Bear made to Korczak’s home on the East Coast, their meeting once Korczak had agreed to carve the memorial & a bronze bust of Chief Standing Bear Korczak first created in African mahogany in 1940.

Korczak’s original plan for the Memorial was to start with the horses head. The Mountain Carving Room features the tools Korczak used in the early years of the Mountain, including a ½ size replica of “the bucket”; a wooden basket used with an aerial cable car run by an antique Chevy engine that allowed the sculptor to haul equipment and tools up the Mountain. Korczak passed away in 1982, leaving Ruth Ziolkowski and his 10 children to continue with the Crazy Horse dream. Ruth took charge as Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation’s President & CEO, she decided to change the focus, shifting the work from the 219 foot tall horse's head to the more manageable 87 ½ foot tall face of Crazy Horse. This shift in focus is displayed in the Mountain Carving Room by showing the measuring models used to carve the face of Crazy Horse, plasters of Crazy Horse’s face and the detailed pictorial progression of the face carving. You will find details on the next phase in the Memorial’s carving. Focus has moved now to Crazy Horse's hand, arm, and opposite shoulder and the horse's mane and head.


"My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also."

- Chief Henry Standing Bear
  • “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.