The sculpture's 87-foot-tall face was dedicated in 1998. When finished, the artwork will be 641 feet long and 563 feet tall, making it by far the biggest sculpture in the world. For scale, Crazy Horse's head alone is 27 feet taller than Mount Rushmore's six-story heads.
Crazy Horse is based on a photograph taken by Edward Curtis in 1885. The image shows Sioux warrior Crazy Horse talking with U.S. Army officer William J. Fetterman near the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It is one of the few photographs to show Crazy Horse without a shirt. He was known for his fierce appearance and his refusal to sign treaties with the United States government after being released from prison multiple times.
Crazy Horse has been called "a metaphor for the struggle between democracy and tyranny, violence and peace, hope and despair." His likeness also appears on money, stamps, and products ranging from coffee cups to T-shirts.
In addition to being a symbol of Native American culture, Crazy Horse has also been used as a means of protest by various groups including anarchists and environmentalists. In 1971, George W. Bush (then a Texas oil executive) bought part of the land on which Crazy Horse stands for $100,000 so that it could be preserved. Today, this tract of land is owned by a non-profit organization called the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
The ultimate proportions of the artwork are projected to be 641 feet (195 m) long and 563 feet (172 m) high. Crazy Horse's arm will be 263 feet (80 meters) long, and his head will be 87 feet (27 meters) high; in comparison, the heads of the four United States Presidents at Mount Rushmore are each 60 feet (18 meters) high. The sculpture is expected to weigh about 280,000 pounds (125,000 kg).
Crazy Horse was a Native American warrior who lived in the late 1800s in the area now known as South Dakota. He was a leader of the Oglala Sioux tribe and is considered one of the greatest warriors in American history. His defiant stance and the peace sign with which he is often associated have become symbols of resistance for those fighting racial discrimination.
The project was initiated by Joan Hiller after her visit to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City in 1989. She decided to create a monument that would equal or surpass anything else in size worldwide. After returning home, she contacted the owner of a ranch near Crow Agency, Montana, and asked him if he would be willing to serve as a host site for the work of art. The owner agreed, provided that Joan secure permission from the tribal leaders before starting work on the land. She began fundraising efforts and received support from many people including President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton who helped raise money for the project through their family foundation. In 1992, Congress passed legislation authorizing funds to begin construction of the monument.
When completed, the sculpture will be the greatest mountain carving in the world, dwarfing such landmarks as the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Statue of Liberty. In fact, all four presidents of Mount Rushmore will fit within Crazy Horse's 87.5-foot-tall skull. The original carving was done in 1941 by Gutzon Borglum - a Danish-American artist who sought to honor America's first presidents.
Crazy Horse was chosen as the subject for this monument not only because of his fame but also because he had many qualities that would have made him an excellent president. He was a leader among his people, fighting against the oppression of Indian agents who wanted them to give up their land and move to reservations. When this did not happen, Crazy Horse led several attacks on government troops who came to take him away to prison. He always managed to escape though sometimes using clever tricks - like hiding under the skin of an elephant!
During World War I, Crazy Horse fought in several battles against the United States Army. It is said that he killed one officer and wounded another during these wars. After both sides realized they could not win, they made a deal: if the Americans gave Crazy Horse money and goods, he would not attack any more soldiers; if he kept his promise, then the Americans would not invade his country anymore. This agreement is known as "The Peace Treaty". It was written down on paper and both parties agreed to respect it.