Archeologist reveals indications of possible graves from Tulsa race massacre

Posted at 8:09 PM, Dec 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-17 16:54:08-05

TULSA, Okla. — Officials believe further investigation is warranted into possible mass grave sites from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

The public oversight committee for the mass graves investigation listened to results of archaeological surveys conducted in October during a meeting Monday evening.

Related Story: Officials to hold meeting on 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre graves investigation

Archaeologists said scans were conducted at Oaklawn Cemetery, Newblock Park and an area known as the Canes, a homeless encampment located near the Arkansas River.

Although nothing was discovered at Newblock Park, researchers say they found significant anomalies at Oaklawn Cemetery and two possible burials at the Canes.

The committee will determine plans for the next phase of the investigation, which could include additional field work or an excavation.

The findings are giving hope to some of the family members of race massacre victims and the public oversight committee.

While the official count of victims stands at 36, historians believe as many as 300 people died during the attack.

"It was known the stories of black bodies being dumped in graves. It was something we were told. It's bitter-sweet to hear the city has commissioned the research and we have probably found mass graves belonging to race massacre victims," said Greg Robinson, a committee member.

However, there are remaining questions about the search. There is still one more area that scientists haven't scanned - the Rolling Oaks Memorial Gardens.

It's a private property, and the team didn't receive permission to search the grounds. They said they will continue working on it.

Tulsa's Mayor G.T. Bynum was behind the re-examination of the potential of graves and created the public oversight committee made from family members of the victims and leaders in the black community.

"The whole reason we created this committee is we recognize the city of Tulsa has not earned the trust of black Tulsans on this issue. We want oversight, people asking us tough questions like we got tonight," said Mayor Bynum at Monday's meeting.

They will reconvene February 3 at 5:30 p.m. inside the Greenwood Cultural Center.

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