Crazy Horse glows blue for World Diabetes Day - KOTA Territory News

Crazy Horse glows blue for World Diabetes Day


Estellene Zephier, a family counselor in the diabetes prevention program at the Wagner Indian Health Service, was looking for an attention grabber. As a member of the Crow Creek Tribe and the South Dakota Diabetes Coalition, she wanted the world to know that diabetes cripples and kills twice as many Native Americans as other people, and that everyone afflicted with the disease suffers.

The International Diabetes Foundation says more than 371 million people worldwide are affected by diabetes. Zephier says the growing disease is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and amputations. Yet studies show 57 percent of the people at risk for Type 2 diabetes can prevent the disease from attacking them, or delay or reduce the effects of diabetes. Some surveys also indicate half of the people at risk do not yet know that they are or could become diabetic.

To shed light on all of the issues, Zephier turned to Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation and specifically to Ruth Ziolkowski, the chief executive officer. The Memorial is dedicated to North America's Indian people and attracts over 1 million worldwide visitors each year who want to know more about historic and current Native American culture.

"As a tribal member and also working in the health profession, I see how this disease is affecting our people at alarming rates. It is of the utmost importance that we bring awareness to this disease," Zephier said in a letter.

That's why Crazy Horse Memorial, the world's largest mountain carving in progress, will glow in blue light between 5:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13. The Memorial will again stand with other internationally recognized landmarks in the "Blue Monument Challenge" to literally cast the spotlight on diabetes awareness.

Crazy Horse Memorial also participated in the 2012 global campaign at Zephier's request. Organizers say blue symbolizes unity of the sky shared by everyone.

The Blue Monument Challenge awareness promotion encourages public participation in local diabetes education and testing programs on World Diabetes Day, held yearly on Nov. 14 since 1991. Global health organizations timed the observance to remember the 1891 birth of Canadian medical scientist Frederick Banting, the co-discoverer of insulin.

On Thursday, Nov. 14, the South Dakota Urban Indian Health clinics in Pierre and Sioux Falls and the Wagner Indian Health Services office will offer free "Blue Circle Tests" to people who want to know about their risk for type 2 diabetes. The sessions also will show participants how to start taking control of their lifestyles to reduce their chances of becoming diabetic.

An interactive online version of the survey is available at the South Dakota Diabetes Coalition website,

Diabetes awareness advocates include Dennis Banks, an Ojibwe and diagnosed diabetic who helped lead "The Longest Walk" series of cross-country events. A co-founder of the American Indian Movement, he is a frequent visitor to Crazy Horse Memorial and a longtime friend of Crazy Horse CEO Ruth Ziolkowski and her late husband, Korczak (1908-1982).

Crazy Horse Memorial is located on U.S. Highway 16-385 between Hill City and Custer and is open every day. Year-round admission is free to Native Americans, active-duty military personnel with ID, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops in uniform, and residents of Custer County, SD.

Admission to Crazy Horse Memorial is free during the Nov. 13 Blue Monument Challenge lighting hours.

For information, call 673-4681 or email

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