Road crew uncovers possible unmarked cemetery

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Okla. - A road crew with the Cherokee Nation has uncovered what could be a long forgotten cemetery in Cherokee County.

The Cherokee Nation is in the process of acquiring land, so it can pave a stretch of Tenkiller School Road near Stilwell.  That process hit a snag in September when the man who owns the field pointed out something odd -- what appears to be a worn out grave marker.

The Cherokee Nation brought in ground-penetrating radar to survey the land around the marker, as well as a few other potential markers nearby. No writing is visible on any of the stones.

Michael Lynn is the Roads Director for the Cherokee Nation. He says the radar showed what could be 61 unmarked graves.

The findings gave credence to the idea that the field could be an unmarked cemetery. The Cherokee Nation has hired an archeologist to look into it and see if a cemetery appears on any maps dating back to the 1800s.

"I was shocked," says Lynn. "This is not typically something that we find on projects. But anytime we find something like this, we want to protect it and preserve it and do what we need to do to protect the history."

The right of way for the road project misses the potential grave sites by a few feet. So the project can move forward as the tribe searches for answers. Lynn says the road can be altered if needed.

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