Cowboys & Iranians

Photo essay: Crazy Horse Monument and Mount Rushmore

by Jahanshah Javid
Part four of my trip across America took me from Dubois, Wyoming to Custer, South Dakota where I saw the amazing Crazy Horse Monument as well as the inspiring Mount Rushmore.

* Photo essays in this series: Part 1: "Land of the Free"; Part 2: "Liberty Street"; Part 3: "Wild Wild West"; Part 4: "Cowboys & Iranians"; Part 5: "Prisoners of Persia" Part 6: "Taking Jesus by the Horns" Part 7: "Love of Liberty".


Recently by Jahanshah JavidCommentsDate
Hooman Samani: The Kissinger
Aug 31, 2012
Eric Bakhtiari: San Francisco 49er
Aug 26, 2012
You can help
Aug 23, 2012
more from Jahanshah Javid
Jahanshah Javid

As an Iranian

by Jahanshah Javid on

If I was born and raised in America, this would have been a much different photo essay. It would have been from the perspective of a citizen who is deeply deeply concerned about America's foreign policy and military aggression. It's actions, especially since GW Bush, shows an alarming willingness to resort to military means. It is resorting to world wars to deal with a bunch of terrorists who could be easily contained with local security measures rather than wholesale invasions, mostly civilians (do we even feel the enormity of the calamity? HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS dead! GONE!) >>> full text


Jahanshah you missed the wounded knee museum !

by jasonrobardas on

        I loved the photos and Yes, I agree with you there is a lot to be said about the democratic system in this country . I saw these great monuments a few years ago . They are truly amazing !

      One of the greatest contributions of Thomas jefferson is Virginia statute of religious freedom , the first legislature that declares that it is the reason of man that needs to be trusted and not his "faith". I share your  appreciation for all democratic values .....BUT......

       In South Dakota, there is  also a lot to see and to learn about the plight of the indian tribes . I wish you had gone to see the wounded knee museum . This is a memorial to the great massacre of 300 indians (Mostly women and children) on the pine ridge indian reservation in South Dakota.

      According to the holocust expert "David Cesaraui" , in terms of shear numbers killed , the native American genocide exceedsthat of holocaust .

      The removal of Indian tribes from Oklahoma resulted in genocide of Cherokee and Chaktaw indians . This forced migration is  known as (Trail of tears ) in the native American history . It  resulted in death , disease and starvation of these tribes .


Kuchgar Khan

Precisely. They are still

by Kuchgar Khan on

@ Aghaye Ala: Precisely. They are still refused service all over the Dakotas.

from Iran

اینقد دموکراسی

from Iran

اینقد دموکراسی دموکراسی کردی دهن ما را آب انداختی و من مجبور شدم یه پارچه بستنی بخورم که حالا رژیم غذاییم به فنا رفت. ممنون.


Great story JJ

by ramintork on

That Crazy Horse statue looks very impressive. I liked your stone arranged democracy.


Mohammad Ala

So much for democracy . . .

by Mohammad Ala on

I thought I was one of the few who knew Crazy Horse because when I visited the place, there were three people including me. That made me to stay in the area several days. Hopefully, JJ’s pictures will encourage others to visit the place, more importantly support the people who are working on Crazy Horse status. People in charge of creating the status have refused Federal funding.

The Polish family told me that they had been approached by Federal officials to discontinue their efforts. I am one of the few Iranians who has lived in Indian reservations and enjoyed their food and determination.

Elder Iranians would tell you that Brits distributed Teryak free and purchased its ashes from Iranians almost 80 years ago. White Americans did similar thing(s), instead of Teryak they distributed hard liquor. When I lived in the USA, I observed discrimination against Native people. Even in bars (e.g., in Wisconsin) they were refused service . . . so much for democracy.


America is not a tolerant society

by Shorts on

Dear Mr. Javid,

I was thrilled to see your photos of the Crazy Horse Monument since my fiancee is Lakota from the Pine Ridge Reservation; however one slide disturbed me. In this slide, you celebrate America's tolerance and compare Crazy Horse to Chingiz Khan or other murderous tyrants.

Crazy Horse, historically, fought for his people and way of life against horrific massacres at the hands of the US government.

For example, in the Sand Creek Massacre, US soldiers killed hundreds of women and children deliberately, then scalped their genitalia and wore the perverted trophies on their hats in the streets of Denver. This is well documented by American historians.

You see, Crazy Horse is more of a Babak Khoramdin than a Chingiz Khan. He was fighting for his people, his way of life, and combating the forces of colonialism.

Regarding tolerance, you may be surprised to find that Native Americans are NOT treated well in the United States, and growing up Native American in the West exposed my fiancee to verbal abuse, sexual harassment, police harassment, and other overt forms of discrimination. Additionally, Native Americans are still ground under the heel of the Federal government, with the worst poverty statistics, suicide rate, rape and murder rate, and lowest life expectancy.

Consequently, while I was thrilled to see your wonderful photos, I have to inform you that your understanding of the situation is frankly the reverse of the facts. For Native Americans, America is not a tolerant society, it is the government that killed 20 million of them and eradicated everything they held dear. And Crazy Horse is not a psychotic mass murderer--that would be the government that attacked him.

Thank you for your time--I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Best regards,


in the middle of nowhere FB & skype won't cut it

by Monda on

for everyone, that is. You're one of the luckier ones if you can make it past a month. Great for soul-searching though If one can maintain the proper balance and not miss too many things back home.

Nice informative travelogue JJ. I'll to refer to it the next time I drive cross country, through some of those northern states. 

Your hands must be really tired of tying/ sticking all those prisoner name tags! I look forward to your Persia, Iowa blog. Are there any Iranians living there? Any Iranian bookstores or delis, even? ... I'll wait.



A wish for you

by Aladin Katoor on

Thanks for beautiful photos. I see emptiness there. More statues than people are there. I wish you had your political advisor Fred beside you there.

Anahid Hojjati

Thanks JJ for the pictures

by Anahid Hojjati on

I have seen some of them, and they are very nice.

Thanks MasoudA for the information on Thomas Jefferson.

Mohammad Ala


by Mohammad Ala on

Thanks JJ.

I travelled the same path as you did.  I spent 30 minutes at Mount Rushmore, but several days at Crazy Horse monument.   My journey was over 30 years ago, at that time there was no inference fee for Crazy Horse monument; however they were accepting donations.  I met the Polish family, I talked with two elder sons.  There is an Indian reservation where I obtained a permit to spend a day there.

The white man, including founding fathers wiped out their livelihood by killing buffalos.  You need to hear it from Indians. 



Thanx JJ

by masoudA on

You are getting very good at this - your best thread ever.

Here is my little gift to you:

Thomas Jefferson

Those who do not live in America would get a better picture why and how America is different than anywhere else in the world.....where it is today........and why constitutionalist Americans have formed the TEA Party...



At 5, began studying under his cousins tutor.
At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.
At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.
At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.
At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.
At 23, started his own law practice.
At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
At 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British
America " and retired from his law practice.
At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence .
At 33, took three years to revise Virginia ’s legal code and wrote a
Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick
At 40, served in Congress for two years.
At 41, was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial
treaties with European nations along with Ben
Franklin and John Adams.
At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American
Philosophical Society.
At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of
Republican Party.
At 57, was elected the third president of the United States .
At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase doubling the nation’s size.
At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
At 65, retired to Monticello .
At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and
served as its first president.
At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of
Independence .
John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the White House for a group of the
brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement: "This is
perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the
White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall
become as corrupt as Europe . - Thomas Jefferson
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are
willing to work and give to those who would not. - Thomas Jefferson
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A
principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
- Thomas Jefferson
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the
government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care
of them. - Thomas Jefferson
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from
too much government. - Thomas Jefferson
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. - Thomas Jefferson
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear
arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in
government. - Thomas Jefferson
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of
patriots and tyrants.
- Thomas Jefferson
To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which
he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.
- Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:
I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties
than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to
control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the
banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the
people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the
continent their fathers conquered.



Nice !

by fereydoon on

I enjoyed the photos and descriptions. Only I
think the comparison between Crazy horse and Saddam or Genghis was a bit off
since Crazy Horse was not an invader.

Organic NUTritionist

great as usual...

by Organic NUTritionist on

great pictures johnny :)  i want one of those little wooden cubs in picture #80...  are you still around there???  :)))

#119 great picture, and the pictures of the horses who are always so photogenic...



Kuchgar Khan

Racist and Inaccurate

by Kuchgar Khan on

There are several things horrendously wrong with this posting, Mr. Javid.

1) "Indians" is not an acceptable term any more than "negroes." It is archaic and racist.

2) Crazy Horse is not a terrorist or a mass murderer. I suggest you read about him before ignorantly posting your culturally chauvinistic misinformation all over these pictures. 


3) America was never and still is not "tolerant" of Native Americans. Native American reservations are not the casino-wealthy stereotypes you may think. The poorest counties in America are Native American reservations, with the highest poverty levels in North America, and life expectancies literally on par with Afghanistan.

4) Celebrating American tolerance of Native Americans is as offensive and ironic as celebrating Nazi tolerance of the Jews. At the hands of the American government, millions of Native Americans were murdered. In the Sand Creek Massacre (look it up!) for example, US Cavalry murdered hundreds of women and children, then mutilated and scalped their genitals for trophies, which they proudly displayed in the streets of Denver. After the Wounded Knee Massacre, the murderers (who also killed women and children) were given medals and awards for killing Native American women and children.


MY FIANCEE'S GRANDMOTHERS SURVIVED WOUNDED KNEE, AND SHE DOES NOT WANT TO HEAR ABOUT "TOLERANCE" OR HOW NICE AMERICA IS TO NATIVE AMERICANS. IT ISN'T AND NEVER HAS BEEN. IT HAS MASSACRED THEM. In fact, Mt Rushmore was deliberately placed in the ancestral homeland of the Lakota as an insult and token of victory over them.

 For more information:

  1. David Cesarani, Holocaust: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies, Routledge, 2004. (p. 381)
  2. ^ David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World, Oxford University Press, 1993.


Esfand Aashena

جهانشاه جان آبروی ایرانی‌‌ها رو که بُردی!

Esfand Aashena

That's democracy in Persian??! really??!! you chickened out and didn't say Iranian?!  Worse you embarrassed the PERSIANS by littering the monument!  Oh well :-)

You know you're living the life many of us always dream and talk about = travelling the world.  You're really doing it!  But one month in one of those middle of nowhere places you'll be crazy out of your mind and no amount of internet can help you out!

About your photo essay at first I was stumbling through your captions as they had so many WRONG in them!  really, did you think first or just put them down without thinking?

Since you've lived in California you should've seen this t-shirt all over the state.  They just didn't know any better at the time like how they treated blacks as slaves.  The correct word they use these days and should've used in those days is "insurgent" which is the same word Greeks used during their wars and so on.

But once passing through first dozen or so wrong captions and cringing the rest of the essay were truly enjoyable and I thank you for them.  I always thank you for them because you take us to all these places.  

Everything is sacred


A journey for the soul

by ariane on

Very thoughtful journey! A celebration of freedom! Thanks for sharing.



by IranMarzban on

thank you mr. javid good to know,  again great photography and captions


Jahanshah Javid


by Jahanshah Javid on

Thanks IranMarzban. Most of the photos are with Canon G-11. Others with iPhone.



by IranMarzban on

another great essey mr. javid by the way what camera do you use ?!