Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Ruth Ziolkowski

Todays AWU WOD is Ruth Ziolkowski ♥ ♥

Born 1926 Ruth Ziolkowski is President of the Board of Directors and CEO of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, established in 1949 as the governing entity for Crazy Horse Memorial.

Ruth assumed leadership of the project following the 1982 death of her husband, Crazy Horse sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. Since then, she has directed all aspects of the progress at the Memorial both on and off the mountain carving. Ruth has also overseen the steady growth of the educational and cultural aspects of the humanitarian project. That includes the Crazy Horse Memorial Native American Scholarship Program primarily for students from the nine S.D. reservations. Ruth starts to work early in the morning and works until late at night. Seven days a week, she never takes a vacation and she is not slowing down. This is a labor of love for her and her family. The memorial draws more than 1 million visitors a year. Part of the success comes from a decision by Ruth and the board a few years after Korczak’s death – instead of finishing the horse’s head first, they would concentrate on Crazy Horse’s face. The cost would be less, she reasoned, and progress would be noticeable to the public sooner. That decision help put Crazy Horse on the Map.

It’s been almost a lifelong effort. Ruth met Korczak in 1939 — when she was 13 and he was 18 years older — as she tried to get the autograph of an actor staying at Korczak’s home in Connecticut. That was the same year Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote to the sculptor, asking him to create a memorial to Native Americans in the Black Hills.World War II intervened, and Korczak didn’t make it to the Black Hills until 1947. A young Ruth Ross followed him to volunteer on the project and was there for the first mountain blast in 1948. Korczak’s first wife soon left — “South Dakota didn’t agree with her,” Ruth said. But it agreed with Ruth, and on Thanksgiving Day in 1950, she married Korczak.
“I guess I’d been in love with him since I first met him,” she said.

Ruth and Korczak had 10 children — five boys and five girls — who at one point attended their own one-room school. Ruth said she thought nothing of it when the kids began working on the mountain as soon as they were old enough. That’s what they all did. Seven of the 10 children still work at the memorial.

“You cannot lead the lives of your children. If they have the kind of dedication to Crazy Horse as I have and as Korczak had, then they will do it,” Ruth said.

A little history about the Crazy Horse Memorial:
Inspired by Gutzon Borglum's carving of nearby Mount Rushmore, Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear proposed a memorial to Native American heroes with a granite carving near Custer. Ziolkowski's late husband, the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski a monument carved into a mountain, in the tradition of the Mount Rushmore National Memorial (on which Korczak Ziółkowski had worked with Gutzon Borglum). The sculpture was begun by Ziółkowski in 1948. When completed, it will be 641 ft (195 m) wide and 563 ft (172 m) high. It is still incomplete because of funding constraints; learning from Borglum's difficulties, Ziółkowski and his family have refused to accept Federal funding in any form. it is a popular tourist attraction, and visitor fees are a major source of funding for the family to continue the carving. Crazy Horse was a famed Oglala Lakota warrior and leader who played a key role in the 1876 defeat of the U.S. Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana. He died a year later after being stabbed in Nebraska. Crazy Horse's memorial statue depicts him pointing out toward his land in the Black Hills. His famous quote is "my lands are where my dead lie buried."

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