Crazy Horse Sculptor’s Widow Walks On
She promised her sculptor husband before he died in 1982 that she would continue work on the controversial Crazy Horse Memorial being carved into the Black Hills. Now, Ruth Ziolkowski has passed on herself, on May 21, 2014 at age 87.
Ruth Carolyn Ross came to South Dakota’s Black Hills from Connecticut in 1948, according to the Associated Press. She and other youth had volunteered to help sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski begin the carving of the Crazy Horse Memorial. The two were married on Thanksgiving Day in 1950—he was 42 and she was 24, according to AP.
Korczak originally took on the project at the request of Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear, who wrote a letter saying, “We would like the white man to know the red men have great heroes also.” He was referring to Mount Rushmore.
“He decided it would be well worth his life carving a mountain, not just as a memorial to the Indian people,” Ruth Ziolkowski told AP in 2006. “He felt by having the mountain carving, he could give back some pride. And he was a believer that if your pride is intact you can do anything in this world you want to do.”
The carving of Mount Rushmore into the sacred Black Hills was controversial and carving a likeness of Crazy Horse is no different, especially to Crazy Horse descendants who feel that Chief Standing Bear did not have the right to ask for such a thing to be done.
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