Much to my dismay, my father and grandfather embarked on a cross-country trip this past September and October. Obviously, I couldn't go because of school, and was sort of bitter (they later rewarded me with a t-shirt and an e-mail attachment of the 350-some-odd pictures from the trip). It took them two and a half weeks to drive from my hometown of Albany, New York to San Francisco, California. Of course, they documented the journey with countless brochures and photos of them standing in front of iconic scenes and locales: Chicago's Loop and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, to name a couple. There was one I didn't recognize, though: my father smiling in front of a sort of half-assed face carved into the side of a mountain. A weird Mount-Rushmore-looking hybrid: The Crazy Horse Memorial.
The Crazy Horse Memorial, which isn't far from the more widely known in situ or "in place" memorial of Mount Rushmore, began in 1929 when chief Henry Standing Bear wrote to Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziółkowski, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too." Ziółkowski, who had helped with the carving of Mount Rushmore, designed a model of Crazy Horse on a stallion's back, pointing out over the Black Hills of South Dakota. The monument is carved into the side of these hills--more specifically, Thunderhead Mountain, a sacred place for the Lakota Culture. The project is still underway. It's enormous. When (or if) finished, the 641 feet by 563 feet sculpture will be the largest in the world, and and first non-religious sculpture to hold the record since 1967.
Americans sure are funny, aren't they? Crazy Horse rebels against the encroachment of the federal government on Sioux lands in the mid-1860s. They go to war. Crazy Horse is killed by federal soldiers in prison. A Polish-American immigrant is chosen to erect a monument in his name, the largest in the world if completed. It's quite the story, really.
There's more to it, though--since the memorial is funded privately (the memorial's commission has reportedly turned down several offers of government cash, each around 10 million), it's taken over 60 years to carve it out of Thunderhead Mountain. And it's not even a third of the way done. Additionally, many modern-day Sioux and other historians liken the carving of Thunderhead Mountain to the carving of, say, Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The memorial, to some, is simply insulting--a gigantic, indelible insult at that.
There are no projected finish dates for the memorial, whose construction is now headed by Ziółkowski's daughter, Monique.
image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ed/Crazy_Horse_Memorial_2010-2.jpg