SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — The death of Crazy Horse Memorial leader Ruth Ziolkowski triggers a succession plan that transfers leadership to three people focused on advancing three main components: the monumental mountain carving, an American Indian museum and an Indian university, its president said.
Ziolkowski, who died Wednesday of cancer at age 87, had taken over leadership of the Black Hills tourist attraction that honors Native Americans upon the 1982 death of her husband, sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski.
"There's no one successor or two successors in this story," said Laurie Becvar, president and chief operating officer of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. "The succession is the executive management team and there's three of us. We're all equal players."
Two of Ziolkowski's daughters, Jadwiga and Monique, are the others.
The memorial is envisioned to show the legendary Oglala Lakota warrior astride a horse and pointing east in a carving that will be 641 feet long and 563 feet high — higher than the Washington Monument.
Although the carving remains slow going more than six decades in, the 1,000-acre complex now includes a welcome center, the museum, educational and training area, restaurant, gift shop and the Indian University of North America, which started in 2010 and will host 32 students this summer who take college courses and work at the complex.
"I think the foundation is in the same position without the icon. It's not going to be business as usual because Ruth won't be here," foundation board chairman John Rozell said.