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1921 Graves investigation moves into reinterment phase amid controversy

Posted at 9:13 AM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 19:37:27-04

TULSA, Okla. — City leaders joined a team of archaeologists and the 1921 Graves Oversight Committee to lay to rest 19 remains at Oaklawn Cemetery.

The interment comes as experts continue working to identify who those people were and if they were victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

The reburial was held in the southwest corner of Oaklawn Cemetary at 9 a.m. The cemetery had been closed for the past three days in preparation for Friday’s work.

This comes two weeks after the city announced the completion of phase two where the remains were forensically analyzed in an on-site lab.

The team completed the exhumation process over a month ago. Researchers exhumed a total of 27 burials. All of them were found at the same ground depth and in similar coffins.

Although they plan to inter the remains back into the ground, their work is far from over. Experts are now working to identify the remains through DNA testing.

They hope to find out who these people were and what happened to them, and to see if they are connected to the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. We are expected to hear a full report of their findings in the coming months.

The interment process comes just one day after controversy surrounding the project. Some of the members of the oversight committee say there has been a lack of transparency and communication from the city regarding the reburials.

2 News Oklahoma reached out to the city for a response. They sent us back a statement saying in part:

"The city remains committed to transparency during this investigation and are focused on fulfilling our commitment to this phase of work that is still underway, as we have for the past two years of the investigation.”

This is a developing story. We will keep you updated as we learn more.

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