Sunday, September 25, 2011
It was one of those "someone-please-pinch-me-so-I-know-I-am-not-dreaming" moments (just like when I was at the Grand Caynon last year or in 2008 when we attended Mass at Basilica di San Pietro in Rome). You could read books, watch movies or see the photographs, but nothing could be compared to actually being there, so close that you almost could reach out and touch the face of Crazy Horse.
Crazy Horse was born on Rapid Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota in about 1842. He belonged to the Oglala tribe of Sioux Indians. (As a child, Crazy Horse was called Curly Hair because of his curly, light brown hair.) This brave Sioux Chief was known as the warrior who led the fight and defeated Custer and the United States 7th Calvary at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana. This battle was the greatest military victory in the history of the Sioux and Cheyenne people fighting for their freedom, preserving their culture and protecting their land.
Crazy Horse Memorial Monument is a non-profit, educational and culture project financed primarily from admission fee which is $10 per person. The three wings of the building of the Indian Museum of North America has almost 20,000 artifacts. If only we would have at least a whole week! For more information, visit www.crazyhorse.org.
(A motorcycle rider in front of us waited until she got up to the window to "slowly" pulled out her wallet, "slowly" presented her credit card to pay for the $10 admission fee. A few more vehicles behind us. She put her credit card back into her wallet. She then put her wallet in her pocket. She asked for a receipt. More vehicles behind the vehicles behind us. Then she "slowly" pulled put her wallet and "slowly" put the receipt in the wallet. Called me "TOTA - a grumpy geezer" but visitors should have money (cash or credit card) ready when they get to the window.)
Above is the 1/34th scale model of the actual size of the monument. The model is located on the Viewing Veranda. More than 8 million tons of granite have been blasted off the mountain. The monument, still being carved from the granite of Thunderhead Mountain, when complted, is supposed to be 563 feet high and 641 feet long when, or if it ever would be completed. (I know for sure it won't be within my lifetime.)
We had to again keep to the schedule and could not stay to watch Legends in Light, a laser-light storytelling presented at dark nightly during summertime. The mountain is lighted nightly at dark for one hour in the off-season.
Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski (1908-1982) knew that the project would not be completed in his lifetime, so he left detailed plans to be used with the scale model allowing others to continue the work. Korczak was born in Boston, a Polish descent (could be my husband's cousin), and as an orphaned, he grew up in foster homes. Visit www.crazyhorsememorial.org to read more about this great sculptor and how he was invited by Chief Standing Bear to carve the monument so the world would know that the red man also has great heroes.
The American frontier was officially closed by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1890. President Thomas Jefferson thought it would take over 2,000 years for the population to fill up the land that once was a wild, uncharted, unsettled space. It took only 80 years for people of all races and around the world and their American Dreams to complete these United States, all 50 States, stretching from coast to coast and beyond (Alaska and Hawaii).
Do you share the "Manifest Destiny" belief that Americans had the right to all the western land all the way to the Pacific Ocean and that the Westward Expansion was a magnificient accomplishment of the creation of a nation or are you haunted by the destruction of Native American culture, the loss of innumerable species of animals and natural resources by the early settlers with permission from the government in the name of exploration while ripping apart what once was sacred land?