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The Cross Bison Kill Site         
Site Number(s):    
County:   Washington, MN  
City Township:    
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The discovery of this site, which probably dates to Archaic times (ca. 5,000 years ago), resulted from a survey of the St. Croix Watershed Research Station operated by the Science Museum of Minnesota just south of Marine on St. Croix. The Research Station is located at a point where the river valley widens and includes backwaters and wetlands along with numerous year-round springs. It offers rich biological resources, and there are many signs of early Indian presence.  

Site photo
Archaic tool-making site. Photo courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota.

Among those found in the past have been indications of Woodland and Oneota occupation and also Archaic projectile points associated with bones of bison, elk, and deer.


The Cross Site was identified in 1993 through a systematic surface collection across a field scattered with hundreds of basalt flakes. In 1994 excavation was started, and continued in 1996.

Anvil and hammer. Photo courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota.

A number of tools have been found -- anvils, hammerstones, heavy scrapers, knives, and a cleaver, all fashioned from local basalt. There were also the scattered remains of two bison.


Cleaver. Photo courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota.

Scraper. Photo courtesy Science Museum of Minnesota


Excavation and analysis have not yet been completed, but Science Museum archaeologists tentatively believe that the site was occupied by Archaic hunters who killed and butchered at least two bison, fashioning the needed tools from nearby materials. They then moved on, leaving most of the worn tools behind. The most unusual feature of the site is the use of basalt in tool-making. The remains represent a nearly complete basalt tool industry. This is unique within Minnesota, and only one other example has been reported in North America.



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Updated 29 Jun 1999