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This Is America

AMERICAN MOSAIC - Chief Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota / Music by the Fiery Furnaces / How Many Languages Spoken in U.S.? - 2004-09-16

Broadcast: September 17, 2004



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.


This is Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music by the Fiery Furnaces.

A question from a listener who wants to know how many languages are spoken in America.

And, a progress report on a huge memorial to Chief Crazy Horse.

Crazy Horse Memorial


On September sixth, a celebration took place in the state of South Dakota. September sixth is the anniversary of the death of the American Indian chief Crazy Horse. It is also the birthday of the artist who started work on a huge memorial. Shep O’Neal has more.


In nineteen forty-eight, Korczak Ziolkowski began to cut a likeness of Crazy Horse into a mountain. The Polish-American artist was asked to carve the statue by Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Lakota Indians.

Crazy Horse was a young leader of the Lakota. He was a hero to his people. He died in eighteen seventy-seven. Crazy Horse had gone to an Army commander to protest a broken promise by the government. The promise was to let his people choose where to live. Soldiers arrested Crazy Horse. A soldier stabbed him when he tried to escape.

Korczak Ziolkowski died in nineteen eighty-two. His wife, Ruth, and seven of their ten children have continued his work. Visitors pay to see the monument even before it is finished.

The huge statue is at the top of Thunderhead Mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The head was completed in nineteen ninety-eight.

The Ziolkowski family says more than eight million tons of rock has been taken off the mountain. They are now working to carve the head of a horse on which the chief will sit. The family expects the finished statue to be more than one hundred seventy meters tall and one hundred ninety-five meters long. It is already considered the largest mountain sculpture in the world.

The family has established the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. This group is also working to improve the education of Native Americans. The foundation has completed a building to show Indian arts. Other plans include a university, medical center and history center to be built near the statue of Chief Crazy Horse.


On Sunday at this time, learn about another Indian chief, Rain in the Face, on PEOPLE IN AMERICA. And listen Monday to THIS IS AMERICA. We tell about the opening in Washington of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Languages Spoken in the United States


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Jijiga, Ethiopia. Abdikader Gahnug Muhumed asks about the number of languages spoken in the United States.

More than three hundred languages are spoken in this country. The most recent report comes from the Census count of the population in the year two thousand.

Of more than two hundred sixty million people over the age of five, eighty-two percent spoke only English at home.

Spanish is the most commonly spoken foreign language in the United States. The two thousand Census found that twenty-eight million people spoke Spanish or Spanish Creole at home. The second most commonly spoken foreign language is Chinese, with two million speakers.

More than one million six hundred thousand people said they spoke French at home. And more than one million three hundred thousand reported speaking German.

Italian, Tagalog and Vietnamese also have more than a million speakers each. More than half a million people reported speaking Arabic, Korean, Polish, Portuguese or Russian. Nearly five hundred thousand spoke Japanese at home. And more than four hundred thousand spoke African languages.

Persian and Hindi each had more than three hundred thousand speakers. There were two hundred sixty thousand speakers of Urdu.

Also in the last Census, close to four hundred thousand people reported speaking Native American languages at home. The largest number speak Navajo. Reports say more than one hundred fifty languages are still spoken by American Indians. Others include Ojibwa, Dakota, Choctaw, Apache, Cherokee and Yupik.

The Fiery Furnaces


The Fiery Furnaces are out with their second album, to a lot of praise from music critics. Steve Ember has our report on this brother-and-sister group.


Eleanor and Matt Friedberger grew up near Chicago, Illinois. Matt is older than his sister. Their interest in music led them to perform and record together when they both moved to New York City. They got the idea for the name of their band from a Bible story and the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” The letters F.F. also represent their names: Friedberger and Friedberger.

The Fiery Furnaces became well known in New York from performing in clubs. Then, last year, they recorded their first album, “Gallowsbird’s Bark.” Ten months later they released their second one. “Blueberry Boat” opens with a ten-minute song called “Quay Cur.”


"Blueberry Boat" is currently the most popular record among American college students. Music critics say the Fiery Furnaces are unlike any other group performing today. Their songs are long and tell stories. Like this one, “My Dog Was Lost But Now It’s Found.”


Eleanor and Matt Friedberger are already working on a third album. Eleanor will sing with their eighty-year-old grandmother. For now, the Fiery Furnaces will perform across the country. We leave you with the title song from “Blueberry Boat.”



This is Doug Johnson.

This program was written by Nancy Steinbach. Paul Thompson was the producer. And our engineer was Rob McLean.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.

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