Jumping ahead

By Sarah Pridgeon

Construction on the new teepee going up at the Vore Buffalo Jump site. (Wes Pridgeon photo)

Motorists heading to Spearfish on I-90 may have noticed a teepee structure gathering height beside the Vore Buffalo Jump. The most recent renovation to improve its standing as a tourist destination, it’s hoped that the 40-foot building will continue to attract attention when the season begins.

“We’re hoping to increase visitation, and that the teepee will attract more attention than a big old sign,” says Glen Wyatt, Vice-President of the Vore Buffalo Jump Foundation.

“What you’re seeing right now is the undercoat board. We’re hoping to add Dryvit to it, a product that has a tan leather look.”

When finished, the teepee will house the attraction’s restrooms as well as displays that tell the story of the Native Americans of the plains, specifically in how they prepared for a hunt and how game was processed once it was brought down. The story will continue in the excavation building inside the jump.

The full exhibition will be divided into five distinct themes, focusing on what made the landscape around the buffalo jump so attractive to Native Americans, the importance of the buffalo to the Native American population, how to jump a buffalo, the history of the jump’s excavation and the tribes that inhabited the plains.

The original log cabin, which has stood on the site since 2008, will be used for admissions and sales. “All of the educational materials will be in the new building and the one below,” confirms Wyatt.

Part of the process of improving the buffalo jump as a tourist destination has involved updating its plumbing and installing a septic tank donated by Cretex of Rapid City. “In the next few days a well driller will begin work, so we will have water to put in our plumbing!” says Wyatt.

The Vore Buffalo Jump will open as usual, from June 1 until Labor Day, September 2. “We’re also glad to open earlier with prior notice, for school groups and so on,” adds Wyatt.

The foundation is now seeking to hire interpreters for the 2013 tourist season to tell the story of the site to visitors.

“We have local people there every day, telling the story of gathering game, the jump, the layers exposed during the excavation and so on, as well as answering questions,” says Wyatt. “If you’re interested, contact Gene Gade, our foundation’s President.”