CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL, S.D. — Crazy Horse Memorial is a monument to Native American history, and this spring, the memorial acquired an 44 tribal flags representing 44 nations.
Collecting tribal flags has been a long-standing tradition at Crazy Horse Memorial, and it all began with the death of Crazy Horse sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski.
“Our first flag was donated to us by the Oglala Sioux Tribe in 1982, upon Korczak’s death,” said collection manager, Diana Welsh. “The tribe presented Ruth with their tribal flag. So, since then, we’ve been collecting flags.”
While the museum has continued to collect flags, they were not all on display for the public. So curators are very excited to now have the full collection visible in the Indian Museum of North America. The museum has attempted to collect artifacts and items from all tribes possible, but spacing prohibits that, making flags a perfect way to represent all tribes.
“Tribal flags allow us to represent more nations than our museum exhibits allow us to do,” said Welsh. “When a tribal representative donates a flag, they are continuing Korczak’s dream of representing all tribal nations throughout the North American continent. And so, when those tribal members come here, they are honored to see their flags hanging here. It kinda brings out a real big emotion for those tribal members when they hear that their flags here, and they come looking like, ‘Where is my flag?’”
To make it easier to find specific flags, Welsh also developed a guide of the locations of each flag. Over the years, tribal members have donated their own flags when they visited the memorial, or reached out to their tribal council to send flags. Even with the museums entire flag collection is on display there is a long way to go in representing all tribes nationwide.
“We have 138 flags from different tribal nations across the country represented here,” said Welsh. “There are approximately, I believe, 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. And our goal would be to eventually acquire one from each tribe.”
Welsh says the museum would also accept flags of tribal nations not federally recognized. Tribal representatives and donors interested in contributing flags to the memorial can contact Welsh at (605) 673-4681.