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© 2008 Marina Rundell

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Article on Visiting Crazy Horse Monument

by Marina Rundell

August 2008


After spending a few days in the Black Hills with my two sons and as our last vacation day was approaching, I asked what else can we do that this place can only give?  How best should we spend our last day?  Something we can't do anywhere else?  We've already visited Mount Rushmore, now what?


My question was answered while visiting the Badlands and listening to the audio tape at the Lakota College American Heritage Museum in Kyle.  I was told that on weekends, visitors are allowed to walk up to see Crazy Horse.  We've already seen the carving of Crazy Horse's face from Highway 385 days before.


The Black Hills region offers many things to do.  Did we really need to go see Crazy Horse up close?  The answer was yes.  So we arrive and one can quickly see the rawness of the place, something I thought I should enjoy now because one day the parking lot may be paved and there may be non-stop trolleys everywhere.


We hike the 6-mile trek, stopping along the way to rest on granite boulders, stumps or fallen trees in the woods.


While walking, waves of people in front and back were non-stop.  A mom carried her baby in a baby carrier next to her chest.  A couple pushed their toddler in a stroller.  I even saw a grandfather pull along his grandson in a wagon.  A woman pushed her child in one of those jogging strollers.  All this trouble through a walk in the woods that can be steep, muddy, rocky, and not meant for anything on wheels, or a heavy pack.


Fortunately, my two sons and I made the most of it by picking up sticks and rocks to keep occupied.  Instead of paying the $10 fee for a walking stick, I hoped to find one in the forest along the way and what was found was good enough.


However, the trek was long and the four checkpoints for snacks and water was a welcome break.  Bring cash to pay for these.


After checkpoint 4, one can clearly see there is a shorter trek, a gravel road that led to Crazy Horse.  Why aren’t visitors given this option?  Especially one lady who was having trouble walking (She had a very patient family member coaxing her on.  At her pace, it was going to be dark by the time they make it up the mountain), the elderly who are seen resting along the way, or families with small children?  Why force everyone to take the 6-mile trek?  The much shorter gravel road to Crazy Horse should be given as an option.  If need be, charge a small fee.  The 6-mile trek costs $3 per person.  The other choice is remain at the Visitor’s Museum and look at Crazy Horse from a distance.


The beautiful walk through the woods was worth it, even as my two sons and I were starting to question the length of it toward the end.


The fact a forest can be turned into “Disneyland” where non-stop walkers kept coming made me wonder why?  Why so many people?  To see an incomplete sculpture of Crazy Horse?  Was it because they were U.S. History buffs?  Was it because they’re enjoying their visit to the Black Hills and want to see one of its early residents?  Was it because they like the idea of being connected to the rest of all the people who are there to share the feeling they’ve felt while in the Black Hills?  Was it because Crazy Horse represented a link to another culture’s way of life and spirituality that they sought in their own lives?  Was it because they wanted a glimpse of the mysterious way of life that Crazy Horse lived (Example:  How exactly does one live on buffalo?)  Was it to go up and say, “sorry”?  Was it to go up and say, “blessings”?  Was it to go up and take pictures as if a picture would make it all more real?  Was it to touch the granite that dots the Black Hills?  Was it to test your heart condition and physical fitness?  Was it to pay respects?  Was it to enjoy the view from the top of the mountain?


It was unbelievable the number of people!  With every person there, the reason for visiting Crazy Horse was many.


Crazy Horse knew and lived in the Black Hills.  We never had to defend the right to live in these hills.  But after visiting the Black Hills, now we understand why.



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