The Real Owner of the Land: Crazy Horse

By Ahmet Yeşiltepe*

..... First we arrive at Mount Rushmore, where the white man carved the four American President portraits with great enthusiasm. Gutzon Borglum was the head of the team which carved George Washington’s, Thomas Jefferson’s, Abraham Lincoln’s and Theodore Roosevelt’s heads into Rushmore and turned it into a monument.
This mountain monument is a modern day sphinx, which Americans are very proud of.  It was created by 400 people between the years 1927-1941 first under Borglum’s leadership and then through his son’s efforts.


There are people who dislike Rushmore and get irritated by it deep down inside too. Lakotas! When Lakota natives come together for the “Pow wow” meetings, at which they practice their Shamanic rituals, they always keep the American flag with them but despite this patriotic attitude, you can understand from their conversations that they are hurt by the genocidal campaign against them, which has lasted for hundreds of years.

The four “white fathers” (a name that the Lakotas gave the American presidents) on Rushmore, who are staring at the Lakotas’ land with ‘cold eyes’ as the Lakotas put it, had not been always very kind to the owners of these lands. For this reason the Lakotas decided to build a real chief’s statue in the mountains of their own land and there started a never ending architectural project. For the last 50 years they have been trying to put the statue of the legendary chief of the Lakotas, Crazy Horse, on this mountain.

Crazy Horse, who was known as a very traditional philosopher as well as a very important political leader and a fighter, is a symbol of honor for the Indians against the white man. He did not let anyone take his picture even once when he was alive, thinking that his soul would not be free any more.


One of the Lakota chiefs, Standing Bear, set the wheels in motion to build a monument which is at least twice the size of the Rushmore, on another mountain that is nearly 4 km away from Rushmore, in 1947. He proposed an offer to a Polish immigrant sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, who also worked at Rushmore. Ziolkowski accepted the offer right away and started building the statue of the Lakota’s legendary chief, Crazy Horse, mounted on a horse on the mountain. He continued his project with dynamite, compressor diggers and delicate workmanship all by himself until he died in 1982. After Ziolkowski died, his 10 children took over this inheritance and tried to finish the statue.

Crazy Horse pointing the Dakota fields and he says “The land I belong to is the land where I am buried.”  On the skirt of the monument mountain there are these words by Chief Red Cloud: “... White man promised us many times, as many as I can’t remember the amount. He only kept one. He said that he was going to take our land at the end. He only kept this one…”

Only the ‘face’ of Crazy Horse’s statue is very clear despite the years of work. Even though Washington offered 10 million dollars to help this project twice, the Lakota tribe and the  Ziolkowski family rejected it. Their aim is to complete the statue with the donations made by the visitors who support them. This means the statue of Crazy Horse, the owner of these lands, is not going to be completed with the ‘big white father’s’ money who lives in Washington. If the statue of Crazy Horse is completed without the help of the white man’s chief or his institutions this is going to be a big honor for Lakotas and Ziolkowski Family.

* This article, published in the August issue of CNBC-e Magazine, is published here with the approval of NTV’s correspondent, Ahmet Yesiltepe.

(August 2005, 18th Issue)
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07