Carved into Thunderhead Mountain in South Dakota, the Crazy Horse Memorial is a giant statue of the famous Native American warrior. The memorial includes the statue — still under construction — of Crazy Horse and also has educational and cultural facilities and several museums, including the Indian Museum of North America. Construction on the monument began in 1948, and as of 2011, only the head of the Oglala Lakota warrior has been completed.
The statue will eventually depict Crazy Horse sitting astride his horse, his left arm extended, pointing to where his "dead lie buried." The Oglala Lakota are a Native American tribe associated with this region, who hold this area and Thunderhead Mountain sacred. It is located 17 miles (about 27 km) from the famous Mt. Rushmore monument, which depicts four American Presidents.
Upon completion, this Native American monument will become the largest sculpture in the world; however, this may still be very far down the road. It's been under construction for over 60 years. When it finally emerges from the rock, it will be the first statue of nonreligious origin to hold the status of the largest statue in the world.
The Black Hills of South Dakota, where this monument resides, is a famous North American region known for the picturesque beauty associated with the rocky peaks of this mountain range. The Crazy Horse Memorial hopes to add even more historical significance to this already attractive area. It is very expensive to construct a memorial of this magnitude, and there are a plethora of ongoing fund-raising activities involved in acquiring the resources necessary for its completion.
This project is rooted in a 1939 letter from Henry Standing Bear to famous sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. Standing Bear's letter included a reason for wanting this sculpture built, stating, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too." Ziolkowski, who was of Polish-American descent, agreed to the project after being persuaded to use sacred ground over the more fitting Tetons of Wyoming.
This memorial is a not-for-profit endeavor without much federal and state financial support. The monument is overseen by the Crazy Horse Memorial foundation, which the late sculptor's widow and many of her children oversee. The completed monument will include educational facilities for the University of South Dakota in addition to a cultural center, museum, and sculpture itself.