Crazy Horse, S.D. -- The tall, heavyset sculptor with flowing gray beard stood outside his mountain tomb puffing on a cigar and musing aloud:
Korczak Ziolkowski (Core-chock-Jewel-kuff-ski), 71, has spent the last 32 years -- and $4 million, by his estimate -- blasting a likeness of the Sioux Indian Crazy Horse astride a stallion on Thunderhead mountain in the Black Hills. If he completes it, it will be the largest sculpture ever created.
Korczak -- he is known only by his first name -- calculates he has blasted 6.5 million tons of granite form the red mountain and has 1.75 million tons to go to finish the 563-foot-high carving.
"I'm down to the nubbin," insists Korczak. "If I had 10 men and all the money it would take, I could have it done by 1990. And what the hell, if I don't finish it, my sons will."
His carving on the mountain would be 10 times taller than the heads of the four presidents on Mt. Rushmore 17 miles northeast of here. Already 15 times as much stone has been blasted from Korczak's mountain.
The head of Crazy Horse will be 87 1/2 feet high. His arm -- pointing to the east, "where the invaders came from" -- will be 263 feet long, long enough for 4,000 persons to stand on.
Korczak was a successful New England sculptor with 120 busts and statues to his credit, including a 13 1/2 -foot statue of Noah Webster in Webster's hometown, West Hartford, Conn., and a bust of Paderewski that won first prize for sculpture at the New York World's Fair in 1939.
That was the year a Sioux chief named Henry Standing Bear wrote to Korczak asking him to come to South Dakota and carve a memorial to the American Indian.
"We Sioux chiefs want you to carve a mountain for us so tat the white men will now that the red men had great heroes too," wrote Henry Standing Bear.
Korczak agreed and decided to use as his subject Crazy Horse, the famous Sioux warrior who led his people in the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana in which the forced of Gen. George Custer were defeated and killed. Crazy Horse surrendered at Ft. Robinson, Neb., the next year and was killed by a cavalryman guard while in custody.
Why Crazy Horse for the statue?
"In the minds of Indians the life and death of Crazy Horse parallels their tragic history," Korczak said. "Crazy Horse was one of many great and patriotic heroes, but his tenacity of purpose, his modest life, his unfailing courage, his tragic death set him apart and above the others.
Since its inception the project has grown. "My original plan was a carving on the mountain 100 feet high that would take 10 years to complete," Korczak said. "It is now six time bigger than my original plan.
"Sure, it's slow going. But that doesn't discourage me. The mountain is my life, my passion. . . "
"I'm not doing this as a tourist gimmick. It has immense meaning to Indians. Don't treat it as a hot dog stand. I'm doing this for the Indians to give them something to be proud of. I as a man of my word. I made a commitment. I cannot let the Indians down.
"I'm a stubborn old bastard. This is all I want to do with my life. Mt. Rushmore tells part of the story of America. Crazy Horse tells another side."
Korczak's wife, Ruth, and 10 children, the youngest 17, the oldest 31, support him wholeheartedly.