South Dakota Trip Part 6

Part six

6-23-13 8:26 pm Mountain Time

Today we rode the motorcycle over to the Crazy Horse Monument. For those that don’t know, many years ago and old Indian Chief Standing Bear asked a sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, to carve an image of a famous Indian into a mountain, just like was done at Mt. Rushmore to let everyone know there were great Indian men as well. So this man took the challenge on and the great Indian to be on the monument was Crazy Horse. So this sculptor, all by himself started the project with very little equipment. He built steps all the way to the top to the area he would be working. After a while, he was able to buy a compressor and run tubing line all the way up to the top to run his hand tools. He took a load of equipment all the way up, which was a long way, and he said many times before he got to the top, the old compressor would conk off and he would have to go all the way back down again, crank it up, then go back up again. He said one day this happened 9 times. Wow, this man was persistent.

Sculptor and indian

After a while, he was able to buy more equipment and the long slow process continued. Then eventually, he was able to hire a few people to help him. Once this young woman hired on as an apprentice. They fell in love and got married and she continued to help them. They had 10 children, 5 girls, 5 boys. Once they turned 7, they started helping also. He even moved a one room house to his property and hired a teacher to teach his children instead of them having to leave to go to public school.

This went on for years and years. Also, he refused any kind of government assistance at all. They once offered him 10 million dollars and he turned it down because he said if he depended on the government, it might not get done at all. So this is why it’s taking so very long to complete. The only thing that is complete is Crazy Horse’s head. You can kind of see where his arm in pointing out into the land and its taking shape, but it will be many years before it’s done as they have set no completion date. When it is finished, they plan to put an Indian Health Center and university there too, but goodness knows when this will be. It is still very awesome looking though.

Crazy horse

The sculptor died several years ago and his wife continues the work as well as 7 of the children (except one died recently now there’s only 6 of the children working it). The other children decided they would not make it their life’s work, but the others are committed to it. They still turn down government assistance as they do not believe in it. The sculptor believed very much in free enterprise and no assistance from the government and that is also their belief.

and wife

They work on it every day, every month of the year weather permitting. Now they are able to hire other people to help as well and have good equipment. They also make money with admission for tourists to see the monument, take tours, and visit the most awesome museum of collections of Indian artifacts that I’ve ever seen in my life! I was not expecting this. There was Native American everything, and every single one authentic. They had the dates beside them, and who donated them. There were over 14,000 artifacts there. They also have some newer Native American work too. I have to say that Native American history is so very interesting to me so I was in heaven seeing such wonderful artifacts. I actually didn’t think that many were still in existence. Arrow heads, headdresses, clothing, you name it, it was there. You could also view his original workshop and the gallery of things that he had sculpted in the past, that was also great.

Below is what it will look like when finished.

Below is a pic of a cat Native American piece I took just for Kaitlyn.
wounded knee

We ate lunch at the nice café they had there and the food was really good. I had an Indian Taco.

Then we went to the section where there were Native Americans making and selling things. I stopped by one table where one man was painting onto cloth. He had some watercolor paintings on small paper, he also had books that he illustrated and a big book of pictures of all the murals he has done. He is very talented and I wanted a picture very much because they were beautiful. But I held off until I saw some other things at other tables. Then we got to the table where a young Native American woman was making jewelry. And they were so beautiful. One in particular caught my eye. It was a necklace with a gold brass circle at the end with a dragonfly cut out in it. Its necklace part was made of brass beads joined to white buffalo bone. I fell in love. I talked to the young woman a long time and I said she must really love her job and that it must be nice doing something you love so much. She said yes, that she had moved away to try other things, but home and the making of jewelry called her back and this is now what she does and loves. I told her that I had been seeing dragonflies everywhere I go around here. She said it was because to the Native American out here, Dragonflies are a sign of protection for the person that wears one. So I bought the necklace. The 2nd dragonfly necklace since I got here, but this one was especially nice and handmade. I wished so much Kaitlyn was still here, I would give it to her……


Then as we were about to leave, I heard Indian Music and we came upon two Indians doing Indian dances! What an extra treat! I had hoped I got to see some Native American dancing while I was here and I did! They were in full dress too!


We then ended our time there and I do believe this is the best part of the trip so far to me. I love Native American culture so much and their history, that this just enthralls me. While I was there and looking at everything and experienced all I did, I wished that I could live in another time and another place, just as the Native Americans did on this land way before the white man ever came here. Their ways were peaceful and simple. Their religious beliefs simple. There was the Great Spirit, they lived off the land. If they killed animals for food, they only took as many as they needed and used every single part of the animal for something. Yes, they did war between tribes at times, but it was a simple time, one with a lot more meaning than that of today I think. A lot less of one killing oneself because they were so sad I would also think.

I thought of their belief about their dead, and their spirits living on, which is what we believe too. I wondered if Kaitlyn’s spirit was with me or has she moved on to another place yet. I wonder how that even works. She surely is gone from me physically which I’m painfully aware of.

In leaving from there I am reminded of what Crazy Horse said when a white man asked him after he had been made to leave his land, “Crazy Horse, where are your lands now?” Crazy Horse pointed across the land as he sat on that great white horse and said, “My lands are where my dead lie buried.” I think that says it all. I’m also very inspired about the sculptor’s dedication to this project. He never gave up because he believed the Indian got a horrible treatment and he wanted to make up for it in some very small way, so he made it his life’s work until he died. Now it is his family’s life’s work. That’s very inspiring.

When we left Crazy Horse Monument, we rode to Wind Cave National Park. We saw more buffalo herds there too along with some antelopes. This park is also very beautiful. We decided we would take the Wind Cave tour. We have been to 2 or 3 caves in the mountains of TN with Kaitlyn and Stephanie years ago. In those there were stalagmites and stalactites and one even had a big lake down there and that was fun. However, this cave was nothing like that. Their formations were called popcorn, frost, and box work. These also were made over millions of years. It was nice, but I liked the ones back in TN better. It did remind me of when we took our girls on cave tours back home though.

wind cave

There’s a story of how touring this cave began. Back in the early 1900s a 16 year old boy and his parents moved onto that property. He started going into the cave and exploring it and fell in love with it. He would explore with a candle and leaving a trail of twine behind him so he could find his way out, because there were so many tunnels in there. He explored it for years and also took other people down there with him to show them. Then the World’s Fair came somewhere close enough for him to go and he went and promoted the caves so he could get people to come see it. While he was at the fair he contracted typhus. When he got home, and was recovering some, he went back into the caves where it’s damp and cold and he developed pneumonia on top of that and he died. He was only 20 years old. I thought that was so sad. They say the cave is 119 miles but only 5 to 10 percent has been explored.

Below is box work in the cave.

box work

That ended our day. We went back to the RV with good experiences; well as good as they can be with a broken

About gatito2

My name is Rhonda. I'm a registered nurse, for the last 20 years, that has not been able to work since the day I learned of my daughter's death by suicide 4-12-13. (She actually died 4-11-13 and her body was not found until the 12th) Me and my husband have been married for 32 years and he's a wonderful man. We grieve in different ways. He works, I write. This is my journey through this horrible land of losing a child..
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