Friday, October 24, 2014

Traveling in South Dakota: Crazy Horse and Rushmore

Crazy Horse Memorial and the Wildlife of Custer State Park

In 1947 Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote to Korczak Ziolkowski, “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also.” He invited him to carve a massive image of Crazy Horse in sparkling reddish Black Hills granite. They set up a foundation as a private non-profit to run the business of the memorial and accept donations. They take no federal or state money. It has taken a long time to get as far as they have, because the project is massive. All of Mount Rushmore would fit on the side of the head of Crazy Horse. For years the sculptor worked alone. Then his sons joined him. Now there 10 paid workers working on the sculpture. Six of the sculptor's ten children still work on the project. After the sculptor died in 1982. His wife made the decision to move ahead with finishing the face, since it was thought this would help with donations. Of course, now they have to be even more careful with blasting. The figure is just part of the project. They have a huge museum and Indian Education and Cultural Center. In 2012 they opened the Indian University of North America. It offers summer programs now, but the plan is for a full 4 year university. They also plan for a Medical Training Center here. All tribes are considered a part of this project. It is not just a project of the Lakota Sioux.
My lands are where my people lie buried. Crazy Horse 1877

They made us many promises, more than I can remember--They never kept but one; they promised to take our land, and they took it!  Red Cloud, Lakota, 1891
Flag of the Lakota Sioux

In the Educational Center I was given a paper that said the real name of Crazy Horse was Tasunka Witko which translates to mean Courageous Passionate Protective Horse not Crazy.
1/34th scale model with mountain in the distance
The finished sculpture outlined on a photo of the mountain. The 44 foot feather will be built out of four eleven foot blocks already quarried from the mountain

We drove through the edge of Custer State Park. We first saw the smoke from today's prescribed burn and then drove past Tuesday's burn. They are burning to keep the brush low and to keep trees out of the meadows.
control burn smoke

last Tuesday's burn

Then we began to see wildlife. More prairie dogs. So cute as they chirp and run. So funny when two of these fat guys dive for the same hole at the same time. Just two wriggling butts.

Prairie dog next to the water
Then we saw bison, singles and a group of four, a herd of antelope and a group of deer including a young buck. Even a mountain goat in the burned area.
mountain goat
forked horn
more antelope

More wildlife in this RV park. Bunnies. Two were snuggling under our RV. The owner says a new batch every 28 days. Since they are obviously not overrun, some predator must be thinning the crop. William says there are mountain lions and coyotes for sure around here.

The Needles Highway and Mount Rushmore

We drove on the needles highway with the tunnels carved in the rock. The first few tunnels are narrow, so we folded in the side mirrors. We probably didn't need to. But we would have hated to scrape them. The landscape reminds us of other rocky areas in the west. But it is all lovely.
Sylvan Lake


Tunnel blasted from the stone

Mount Rushmore far in the distance

Getting closer

Amazing what you can do with lots of government money and lots of workers. In six years of carving the memorial was declared finished in 1941. The sculptor, Borglum, had more planned, a few arms and ears, but he was dead and Congress had a war to fight. So Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Lincoln, remain as they are. Borglum said if he could add a fifth figure, it would be Susan B. Anthony.
 Borglum's son took down the scaffolding and cleaned up some last bits. We spent twice as much time at Crazy Horse as we did at Mount Rushmore. Although the gift shop at Rushmore was huge.
with the state flags

One last selfie
a last closeup

We pass tons of tourist attractions on the way back to Rapid City that are closed for the season. “Have a chuckwagon dinner on the 'set' of 'Dances with Wolves.'” The town of Keystone is cute if you like faux western towns that consists of all different types of gift shops.

We will drive on to Deadwood, Lead, and Spearfish on our way home. Lead is pronounced leed by South Dakotans.

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