As It Happens

As it Happened: The Archive Edition - The Monuments Episode

It’s been under construction for 68 years… and counting. American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began work on his monument to Lakota Chief Crazy Horse in 1947. And though Ziolkowski died in 1982, work on the massive monument in South Dakota continues.
The face of Chief Crazy Horse, as seen at the memorial to the Native American hero in the Black Hills of South Dakota. (Photo courtesy of the Crazy Horse Memorial)
Listen27:29

It's been under construction for 68 years… and counting. American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski began work on his monument to Lakota Chief Crazy Horse in 1947. And though Ziolkowski died in 1982, work on the massive monument in South Dakota continues. When completed, it will be four times the size of Mount Rushmore.

Ziolkowski helped carve Mount Rushmore, and after its completion he was sought out by another Lakota Chief to sculpt a monument for Native Americans.

Former As it Happens host, Michael Enright, spoke with Ziolkowski's wife Ruth in 1991.

"[Chief] Henry Standing Bear wrote to Korczak in 1939. He knew Korczak had worked at Mount Rushmore that summer as assistant to Mr. [Gutzon] Borglum. And there was one line in Standing Bear's letter that really got to Korczak and I don't think he ever forgot it. It was what sold him on making Standing Bear's dream a reality," she explained.

"The Chief said, 'Carve us a mountain so the White men will know the Red men had great heroes too.'"

The finished monument will show Chief Crazy Horse sitting on a horse. Ziolkowski designed it to fit the shape of the side of the mountain, which was more cost effective. Now, just the head of Chief Crazy Horse is visible, but once completed the entire statue will stand 195 metres wide by 172 metres tall.

Ruth Ziolkowski died in 2014, but their ten children continue to work on the monument, which is now a tourist destination in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

You can hear Ruth Ziolkowski's interview, as well as these stories on As it Happened:

A nine-metre statue of a banana is unveiled in Melita, Man..

The town of Smyrna, Delaware buys a really ugly statue of Santa Claus.

The Duke of Wellington in Glasgow has a problem with traffic cones on his head.

Barbara Winters recalls efforts to save Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at War Memorial 

A naked snowman causes a small stir.

James Grashow carves a statue of King Kong out of chopped liver.