Storytelling through Sculpture

By BECKY W. EVANS (reporter.evans@gmail.com)

Crazy Horse Memorial, South Dakota

CUSTER, South Dakota– Native American high school students are studying journalism this week under the watchful gaze of Crazy Horse, the young Lakota (Sioux) warrior who was stabbed in the back by a U.S. solider after the government broke an 1868 treaty granting the Sioux ownership of the Black Hills.

The 563-foot Crazy Horse Memorial mountain carving, which is still under construction, was designed by the late sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. In 1939, Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear asked Boston-born Korczak, who had helped sculpt nearby Mount Rushmore, to carve a statue of Crazy Horse in his sacred Black Hills.

For 34 years, Korczak drilled and blasted the mountain, preparing the site for his massive Crazy Horse sculpture. Since his death in 1982, his widow Ruth and some of their 10 children have continued the project, which is financed through public donations.

“I’m a storyteller in stone,” Korczak says in a documentary that plays regularly at the Crazy Horse Memorial’s orientation center.

I’ve joined a group of journalists and educators who are teaching students here how to sculpt news stories using print, photography and multimedia journalism techniques. The workshop, sponsored by the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute, aims to prepare Native American students for careers in journalism. Over the next two days, the high school juniors and seniors will produce a newspaper edition and online publication.

At the beginning of the workshop, keynote speaker Gerard Baker of the National Park Service challenged the students to become a generation of “new warriors” who use their storytelling skills to tell positive stories about their people.

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