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2023 marks 75th anniversary for Crazy Horse Memorial

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Whitney Rencountre 2022

Whitney Rencountre, Crow Creek Hunkpati Dakota, was named chief executive officer for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation in 2022. 

It has been 75 years since the first blast began to reveal the likeness of Lakota leader Crazy Horse in the granite on Thunderhead Mountain in southwestern South Dakota. Over the years, as the sculpture began to take shape, so did the mission of the Crazy Horse Memorial.

“We are excited to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Crazy Horse Memorial,” said Crazy Horse Memorial CEO Whitney Rencountre. “We would like to honor the work of all those who have contributed to Crazy Horse Memorial: past, present, and into the future.”

Today the mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians. The foundation demonstrates its commitment to this endeavor by following these objectives:

— Continuing the progress on the world’s largest sculptural undertaking;

— Providing educational and cultural programming to encourage harmony and reconciliation among all people;

— Acting as a repository for Native American artifacts, arts, and crafts through The Indian Museum of North America and The Native American Educational and Cultural Center.

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— Establishing and operating The Indian University of North America.

“Our events throughout the year will be mission-focused and will build on the dream of Crazy Horse Memorial through the work of the Mountain, The Indian Museum of North America, and The Indian University of North America,” Rencountre said.

As part of the 75th Anniversary Celebration, on June 3, the 37th Annual Volksmarch will be held and admission will be waived for hikers bringing at least three cans of food. On June 4 the Memorial will hold a public event to honor the 75th anniversary of the Memorial.

Crazy Horse Memorial has progressed through many changes since the June 3, 1948 dedication of the one-of-a-kind educational and humanitarian project. What began as a dream turned into a friendship sealed with promise and continues to unfold as a story unlike any other. Transitioning from the time of Chief Henry Standing Bear communicating the importance of the project to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski's unwavering commitment to fulfilling a promise, to matriarch Ruth Ziolkowski's determination to advance the foundation's mission, the story has now entered its fourth era.

Today, Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is governed by a diverse board of directors, which includes Native and non-Native members. The Foundation is led by Rencountre, Crow Creek Hunkpati Dakota, and supported by talented staff.

In a statement, the board of directors and the leadership of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation said they are committed to carry on the dream. They said the passion for progress in all aspects of the foundation's mission "to protect and preserve the culture, tradition, and living heritage of the North American Indians" is strong — as is the desire to keep the promise Korczak made to Standing Bear.

“It is an honor to recognize 75 years of heart poured into this story being carved in stone. Dad said the Mountain Carving is the smallest part of our Mission, which seems like a statement of irony, yet it is one of absolute truth,” said Monique Ziolkowski, artistic and historical advisor to the Crazy Horse Memorial. “The most substantial piece of this project is countless individuals that contribute in various ways to Crazy Horse Memorial and in turn the many lives impacted by Crazy Horse Memorial. We are forever grateful to all of you who have shared of yourselves, in any way, to our story. We are blessed to be on this journey with you.”

To learn more about Crazy Horse Memorial, to plan a visit, and for information about making a contribution, call 605-673-4681 or visit crazyhorsememorial.org. To stay up to date on the latest news and events, follow Crazy Horse Memorial on Facebook (/crazyhorsememorial), Twitter (@crazyhorsemem) and Instagram (@crazyhorsememorial); and follow The Indian Museum of North America on Facebook (/imnacrazyhorse) and Instagram (@imnacrazyhorse).

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