Tim Heaton and Wayne Evans were awarded a Bush mini-grant to fund the project in 1993, and the first major excavation was conducted in May of that year. This involved a group of twenty interdisciplinary faculty and students. In addition to the excavation, Wayne Evans obtained a teepee (one made for the film Dances with Wolves) and a sweat lodge where ceremonies were performed for the group in the evenings. Wayne also made tobacco offerings at the site of the deceased bison and led the group in singing and drum playing of Native American songs each morning. This continued on subsequent excavation trips.
The Krogman family, especially William and his son Roger, have been very generous in their support of the project. They have allowed the university access to the site at any time and have provided water and other essentials as needed for the excavations. Bill, who died in November of 1995, was especially fond of the university group and enjoyed spending an hour or two each day helping dig the bones. Roger demonstrated his skill with a tractor when plaster blocks became too big to carry. Their help is greatly appreciated.
The bone deposit is located in a small hill at the edge of a badland bluff and is concentrated in a small area. Overburden had to be removed with a jackhammer to reach the center of the deposit. In some areas the bones are in such a dense tangle that they are hard to remove without damage. A grid system was established on the site and each bone mapped and numbered before removal. Over two thousand bones have been removed so far. Several skulls and other delicate portions of the deposit have been removed in plaster blocks for preparation in the laboratory.
The W. H. Over Museum in Vermillion has provided space and supplies for the bone preparation and has set up some display cases to exhibit some of the best specimens. The preparation process is a live exhibit where visitors can talk to the student preparators and see their work in action. Students unwrap bones that were packaged in the field and clean and reassemble them. They are sorted into boxes and their locations and field identifications entered into a computer database. Eventually a major exhibit will result from this work. The excavation and preparation has been funded by two Bush grants and by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant that was awarded to USD.
The scientific investigation of the bone deposit is still in progress. The only report published to date is the abstract of a talk presented by Tim Heaton at the South Dakota Academy of Sciences meeting in Sioux Falls in 1994. A report was also published in the Friends of the Over Museum Newsletter. More photos can be seen at the W. H. Over Museum Research Page.
Persons interested in participating in future excavations or in helping with preparation at the W. H. Over Museum should contact Professor Heaton at firstname.lastname@example.org.