Crazy Horse Memorial

There’s a part of me that thinks the Crazy Horse Memorial is just silly. Then there’s another part of me that thinks so too. But it’s one of the things to do in the Black Hills, so we did it.

The carving itself is easily seen from the road without paying the $27-per-car admission fee.

But if you just look from the road, you will miss out on one of the oddest museums I’ve ever seen.

But I get ahead of myself. First we stopped in the parking lot and took the obligatory photos. (Thanks to Karen for taking the Red Chair photo.)

Before we got to the visitor center, we passed a bus which, for $4 additional dollars, would take you closer to the mountain so you could look straight up at it. We passed on this opportunity.

The museum consists of several rambling rooms and buildings that seem to go on forever. There are some displays about the mountain and the carving, including this photo of the mountain before work began.

But most of it has little or nothing to do with Crazy Horse. The first several rooms have random displays about American Indians. I could detect no theme, organization or point.

We left that section and walked out onto the deck. There’s a model of what the carving is supposed to look like when it’s finished. (I promise to make no jokes that include the words “pull my finger.”)

For a donation, we could pick and keep a softball-size rock that has been blasted off the mountain, but I passed up on that opportunity also.

The back half of the museum is dedicated to Korczak Ziolkowski, the sculptor, long since dead, who was commissioned by a couple of local Indian chiefs to carve the memorial.

There are examples of his other works, such as “dismembered hand in a jar with two dead flies,” “naked lady popsicles,”  “Ray Kroc feeling his cheek,” and “Brothers sniffing brothers ” (Those are our names, not Korczak’s.)

We also saw a certificate of blessing from the Pope, so they’ve got that going for them anyway. Which is nice.

We didn’t stay long. There’s only so many times you can look at a mountain and the museum was more perplexing than interesting. Besides, Nate and Karen had been up for 30 hours and still had to check into their cabin at the lodge.

One more thing. This plaque is apparently going to be carved into the side of the mountain.

I thought it was a bit vague, so as a public service, I have translated it from English to Chinese to Creole to Malay to Polish to Swahili to Icelandic to Lao to Yiddish to English.

Maybe this will help.

They tell the story
Real name will be engraved:
Certain life civilians.
Responsibility we have in the world,
Experienced a long history.
We keep everything and more than
Inevitably, we must not forget.
Lau Sin this country in the countries to achieve
Several million years before:
Citizens Majestic possible.
Gift bags, the exchange
Thanks.
But then I oppressed
Murder and rape, and optimistic about the war.
striker spot
Uzurpatris legacy brutal.
For us, the past is in our heart.
Next, I never met.
For you, I will this time, granite
To make sure you always know –
“I live in a place to rest my last.”

I think “Gift bags, the exchange. Thanks” sums things up nicely.

The skeptic in me wonders if this is really a memorial so much as a scam. The sculptor started carving in 1948 and you can see there’s a very long way to go. At anything like the present pace, it won’t be completed within the lifetime of anybody currently living. But is that really the point as long as people keep coming and paying the big bucks to see it? They only have to keep working just enough to convince people they’re still working. There’s some interesting information on the Wikipedia page (so I know it must be true) about what some Native Americans think about the whole thing. Odd that none of that was mentioned at the memorial.

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