August 11, 2007

Dueling monuments in Black Hills

Faceoff:  Mt. Rushmore vs. Crazy Horse MemorialDuring the next 34 years, Ziolkowski blasted millions of tons of granite off the mountain, took the former Ruth Ross of Connecticut as his second wife, fathered 10 children with her, grew a mountain-man beard, took private commissions in winter to pay some bills and set up a dairy farm and sawmill nearby to pay others. He also endured four spinal operations, heart bypass surgery and more broken bones than anyone dared count. (A spokesman says the Ziolkowski family also hasn't counted how much money has gone into the project.)

After his death, he was buried in a tomb at the foot of the mountain, and Ruth Ziolkowski took the reins of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.

Now, all around the 1,500-square-foot cabin where the family first set up residence--and where Ruth, 81, still lives--an 80-room, 40,000-square foot Welcome Center sprawls. Visitors will find a studio, a museum, a gift shop, a sit-down restaurant that operates in summer months, an Indian cultural center where jewelry makers and other artisans sell work and a fleet of buses running up and down the wide gravel road to Thunderhead Mountain. Since 2005, a laser show has played on summer nights as well.

The university and medical center haven't materialized yet, but the organization does grant scholarships to Native American students, about $113,000 last year. Although some Lakota say they resent this use of their ancestral lands as much as they resent Mt. Rushmore, author Ian Frazier has noted in his book "Great Plains" that Crazy Horse "is the one place on the Plains where I saw lots of Indians smiling." I saw them too.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
The checkered history of this monument and its mixed reviews means only one thing: someone is doing something right. If something totally receives approbation, or if something totally is lambasted, then its existence becomes problematical. But, if something receives a differing appreciation from any and all directions, it is on the right track. writerfella has yet to visit the site of the ongoing project, but he will...
All Best
Russ Bates