On The Road 2014 - Sara's Wedding

July 25 2014
Alvin Grassrope at the Crazy Horse Memorial Museum


Alvin Grassrope at the Crazy Horse Memorial Museum i arrived at the crazy horse memorial early on friday july 25, before 8am - before that i had been camping for 2 days at the fish n' fry campground near deadwood SD - i was the first car in the parking lot, 2 BMW motorcyclists were there already

visiting the memorial is a really good reason to come to the black hills - it also has a stunning museum adjacent to the monument itself - the monument has been under construction since the 1940's and won't be completed for decades, if ever - if you google it, realize that all of mt. rushmore would fit onto crazy horse's face - the story of the polish sculptor (with the unpronounceable name) who started the project, and his 10 children, 7 of whom still work on it, is truly inspirational - there is no public money involved and as far as i know it has the full support of the lakota nation

i guess because i arrived so early, i walked into the lakota 'spiritual' room part of the museum and got alvin grassrope all to myself - he's a gregarious man who was keen to talk, i of course keen to listen - his grandfather who died in 1958 at age 104 fought custer at the battle of little bighorn - alvin was 5 when his grandfather died

after listening to alvin talk for about 20 minutes (enthralled would be an understatement) i hesitantly asked if i could video him telling his stories - he was more than willing - it was a very moving experience for me - whether it comes across on the videos for you is another matter, maybe you had to be there - he talked for about 40 minutes

alvin gave me a handwritten note explaining how crazy horse's name was mistranslated from the lakota language by the early trappers - i forgot the note in the excitement of videoing his talk - damn shit fuck - his translation was many words, the gist of it being mr. horse was not crazy at all - i'm kicking myself for forgetting the note - i hope he was'nt offended

alvin is full-blood lakota - his generation is the last he says - he showed me the 4/4 classification on his 'prisoner of war' card - his children are not 4/4 - he speaks the lakota language fluently - his grandfather is one of 58 survivors of the little bighorn battle whose recollections were documented sometime in the early 20th century - alvin told me the story of how his grandfather (or is it his great-grandfather?) got his english name 'grassrope' which became the family surname thereafter - the story's on the video

as i was leaving he recommended a backroad to travel thru the pine ridge reserve that had a spectacular view of the badlands - when i got there there was a roadside stand with fernando (how do they come up with these names?) selling his handmade jewelry - i bought a piece, a beautiful necklace with a polished stone that was infused with tiny fossils, shells etc from the badlands (yeah, right), anyway it was worth the price of the company and the view - i gave it to my sister at the wedding - fernando could have made a living as a stand up comedian - we enjoyed each others company, or so it seemed to me

Fernando & Bob at the badlands