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Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns

Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns
13745 South Highway 16
605-342-2777

History 

In 1929, Alex and Mamie Duhamel and their sons, Bud and Pete, began exploring and developing an impressive cave located on their property in Rockerville Gulch, a beautiful red rock canyon just east of the old-west gold town of Rockerville. The Duhamel's wanted to share this subterranean geological treasure with visitors to the Black Hills and began preparations to lead tours through the caverns.

With help from family friend and Lakota medicine man Black Elk, the Duhamels organized the Sioux Indian Pageant to help promote the caverns. The pageant offered a colorful and educational introduction to Lakota custom and culture. Indian families from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were invited to spend the summers in the Hills participating in the pageant. In fact, it was Black Elk who chose the name Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns and Sioux Indian Pageant as a way to honor his friend Sitting Bull, the famous Hunkpapa holy man who camped near the cave in the late 1800 ²s.

This relationship with the Lakota people carried over to the Duhamel Trading Post as well. The trading post gave the Lakota people the ability to get needed hardware, clothing, and food in exchange for artwork, crafts, and artifacts. Many of these pieces were donated by the Duhamel Family for display at the Journey Museum in Rapid City and Crazy Horse Memorial near Custer.

Old photo of Bud DuhamelIn 1992, Bud was honored with the prestigious Ben Black Elk Award for special recognition as a pioneer in Tourism for South Dakota and for the promotion of Native American culture.  A few years later, at 93 years old, Bud decided it might be time to retire so he turned over cave operations to his grandson, Peter Heffron. Today, Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns continues to be one of the leading attractions in the Black Hills, and Peter, in the spirit of his late grandfather, welcomes visitors to this unique experience.



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