Saturday, May 26, 2012

Mount Rushmore- Week 2

The Crazy Horse Memorial, not yet completed.

This past week I was attending the all seasonal training sessions. It was filled with a lot of information about the park itself and the various partners the park works with.  We also met with several of the park division supervisors including Law Enforcement, Interpretation, Maintenance, Resource Management, and Cultural Resources.  One of the interesting things we were shown was the digital mapping of the Memorial. There was an extensive laser mapping project done to measure the movements of the rocks as well as give a more up-close view of the faces. There is an iTunes application being created showing the faces as well as other parts of the park for the public to see that they wouldn’t normally be able to. The application will also allow for virtual tours of the Memorial as well as the Hall of Records, which the public usually cannot see.

It is hard to see, but by the brush below Lincoln's chin you can see one of the LE Rangers.

While we were in training we were informed of a visitor who had climbed up to the base of the Memorial, right below the President’s chins. The man was eventually apprehended after a slight struggle and was arrested. This is just one of the many concerns the LE staff has to focus on here at Mount Rushmore.
Later in the week we were taken on field trips to the Crazy Horse Memorial and the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. While at Crazy Horse we went through American Indian diversity and sensitivity briefings regarding the local Lakota tribes. It was extremely interesting to learn about this different culture that can be very misunderstood; and in the case for many of us from the East Coast, not even discussed. Being from the East Coast there was never much emphasis on Native American life and history in school; I mostly learned of American history and slavery. Out here in the Mid-West, the only real diversity is among whites and the local American Indian tribes. It is very unique to this area and is helpful to gain a better understanding of the history of the American Indians and everything our government has put them through.
Also discussed was how contemporary life is on the Reservation and how different it is from life as we know it. They informed us of the extreme poverty most of these families live in. The average per capita income is a little over $6,000 with average yearly expenses being around $15,000, leaving around 49% of the population living below the poverty line. There is an extremely high rate of diabetes on the Reservation with a life expectancy of 48 for men and 52 for women. Another alarming rate is that of teen suicide which is 150% higher than the National average. These types of statistics are something you would expect from a third world country, not from communities within our own country.

View of Crazy Horse's face, standing on the arm of the Memorial.

In regards to the Crazy Horse Memorial itself, it was started in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear. The Memorial is 563 feet tall and 641 feet long with Crazy Horse’s head being 82 feet tall. For visual comparison, the Washington Monument is only 555 feet tall; Mount Rushmore is only 285 feet tall with Washington’s head being only 60 feet in height. The face has been finished but there is still much work to be done until the Memorial will be totally completed. Once it is however, it will be a great addition to the Black Hills! 

Our field trip to Pine Ridge consisted of several stops within the Reservation to their Visitor’s Center, the Oglala Lakota College Heritage Center, the Wounded Knee grave and battle site, and ended with a stop at Wind Cave National Park. At each of the sites there were great history presentations along with many pictures and handmade materials and crafts. It was amazing to see this way of life in person and extremely informative with several Lakota tribesmen as our tour guides. Our trip ended with one of the Lakota members dressing in a tribal buffalo outfit to give the Creation Story at Wind Cave. It was a fascinating and extremely rewarding experience that will stick with me forever.
Gus dressed as the Buffalo giving the Origin Story.
Our training ended with a CPR course given by our Chief LE Ranger, Don Hart. We learned the basic tasks of CPR on adults, children, and infants as well as the proper ways of using the AED machines. In the unfortunate event that a visitor may need this treatment, we are now all certified and obligated to help!
This week has been jam packed with information that will help me for my summer here at MORU. I look forward to what is next to come!
ProRanger Erin Langeheine     

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