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Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear circa June 3, 1948
September 6, 1908
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Died||October 20, 1982 (aged 74)
Black Hills, South Dakota, U.S.
|Notable work||Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore Memorial|
|Spouse(s)||Ruth Ziolkowski (1950–1982; his death)|
|Website||Korczak - Storyteller in Stone|
Ziolkowski was born September 6, 1908 in Boston to Polish parents. Orphaned at the age of one, he grew up in a series of foster homes. Although he never received any formal art training, his gifts as a sculptor began to show at an early age. After putting himself through Rindge Technical School, he became an apprentice to a Boston ship maker.
He began to carve wood and by the age of 20 had become an accomplished furniture maker. His first marble sculpture, made in 1932, honored Judge Frederick Pickering Cabot, who had inspired him as a child growing up in the rough neighborhoods of Boston.
Ziolkowski moved to New Britain, Connecticut, to begin life as a professional artist. He began to sell commissioned sculptures throughout New England and New York. In 1939, Ziolkowski was hired as a sculptor's assistant by Gutzon Borglum on his Mount Rushmore project. According to Lincoln Borglum, Gutzon's son, he was unhappy, having expected to be made the primary assistant. Instead, Lincoln was the primary assistant, and when Ziolkowski argued about his orders, Borglum fired him by telegram. A fistfight between Lincoln and Ziolkowski had to be broken up. 
His sculpture of Ignacy Jan Paderewski won first prize at the New York World's Fair. The resulting fame, as well as his familiarity with the Black Hills, prompted several Lakota Chiefs to approach him about a monument honoring Crazy Horse.
Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Lakota wrote him, saying, "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too."
Ziolkowski met with the leaders shortly afterward and began planning a monument. Over the next few years, he conducted research and began planning the sculpture. He also met Ruth Ross, a young art enthusiast, who would later become his second wife. He put the project on hold when the United States entered World War II. He volunteered for service in the United States Army and was wounded in 1944 at Omaha Beach in Normandy.
In 1947 Ziolkowski moved to the Black Hills and began to search for a suitable mountain for his sculpture. He thought the Wyoming Tetons would be the best choice, where the rock would be better for carving, but the Lakota wanted the memorial in the sacred Black Hills on a 600-foot (180 m)-high mountain. The monument was expected to be the largest sculpture in the world. When completed, it would be 563 feet (172 m) high by 641 feet (195 m) long. Crazy Horse's head would be large enough to contain all the 60-foot (18 m)-high heads of the Presidents at Mount Rushmore.
On June 3, 1948, the first blast was made, and the memorial was dedicated to the Native American people. In 1950, Ziolkowski and Ruth Ross, who had become a volunteer at the monument, were married. Work continued slowly, since he refused to accept government grants. Instead, as he personally stated on a guest appearance on the TV show "To Tell the Truth", he raised money for the project by charging seventy-five cents admission to the monument work area.
Last years and death
Ziolkowski continued his work until he died of acute pancreatitis at age 74 at the monument site in 1982. He was buried in a tomb at the base of the mountain. After his death, his widow, Ruth Ziolkowski, took over the project as director of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation.
- Tully, Fred (Spring 2007). "Korczak Ziolkowski: Storyteller in Stone" (PDF). Reclaiming Children and Youth. 6 (1): 59. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- Shaff, Howard (1985). Six Wars At A Time. Darien, Conn: Permelia Publishing. p. 941. ISBN 0931170265.
- Wishart, David (2007). Encyclopedia of the Great Plains Indians. University of Nebraska Press. p. 52. ISBN 9780803298620.
- Congress of the United States (April 2, 1998). "Proceedings and Debates of the 105th Congress Second Session". Congressional Record. 144, Part 4: 5923. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
The Ziolkowski family has worked for 50 years carving the image of the Oglala Sioux leader and his horse out of Thunder Mountain in South Dakota. They have relied entirely on private donations, twice turning down $10 million in federal funds.
- "Ruth Ziolkowski, Who Was Instrumental in Crazy Horse Memorial, Dies at 87". Associated Press. New York Times. 2014-05-23. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
- Ruth Ziolkowski-obitury
- "Crazy Horse Leader Dead At 87". May 22, 2014. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Korczak Ziółkowski.|
- Ziółkowska-Boehm, Aleksandra, Nie tylko Ameryka (Not Only America), Warsaw, 1992; ISBN 83-900358-1-2.
- Ziółkowska-Boehm, A., The Roots Are Polish, Toronto, 2004; ISBN 0-920517-05-6
- Ziółkowska-Boehm, A., Otwarta rana Ameryki (America's Open Wound), Bielsko Biala, 2007; ISBN 978-83-7167-556-0
- Ziółkowska-Boehm, A., Open Wounds: A Native American Heritage, Nemsi Books, Pierpont, S.D., 2009; ISBN 978-0-9821427-5-2
- Thomas Powers, The Killing of Crazy Horse, Alfred A.Knopf, 2010 ISBN 978-0-375-41446-6
- Korczak – Storyteller in Stone, crazyhorsememorial.org