Monday, May 26, 2014

Ruth Ross Ziolkowski

The Crazy Horse monument is designed to be 641 feet long and 563 feet high. It shows the Indian leader pointing east as he rides a stallion. It's carved out of the side of a huge rock outcropping, the kind that marks the South Dakota landscape near Mount Rushmore.

Korczak Ziolkowski designed the sculpture and began demolition work in 1948, following nine years working with Gutzon Borglum on the Rushmore sculptures. Ziolkowski's dream is controversial with native people, though it was inspired by a Lakota leader, Henry Standing Bear, who told Ziolkowski that his people "would like the white man to know the red men have great heroes also."

Korczak Ziolkowski died in 1984 with only the general outlines of the sculpture in place. His wife, Ruth Ziolkowski -- who had "lived with him in a log house, bore 10 children and tended to the museum and gift shop near the planned monument" -- took over the project and its foundation. She shifted the work to concentrate on sculpting Crazy Horse's face, succeeding in making it visible in time for the 1998 dedication ceremony to celebrate the project's 50th anniversary. She "expanded and developed the 1,000-acre site, which includes an American Indian history museum, a restaurant and the Indian University of North America, which works with the University of South Dakota to offer credits for college-bound high school students."

Ruth Ziolkowski died recently. What will happen to her body?

According to subhead of the obituary, "She will be buried at the base of the mountain, next to a tomb her husband carved for himself."

Subordinate to the "great man" until the end and beyond.


Photo by M. Spencer Green, Associated Press, 2006.

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