The Public Oversight Committee for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Investigation met tonight to discuss the feasibility plan from the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey regarding the test excavation at Oaklawn Cemetery, which is expected to begin on April 1 and take approximately 10 days.
During the test excavation, Oaklawn Cemetery will be closed to the public, but a viewing area will be available on the trail area located west of the Cemetery and will be open during business hours. Photography/video of human remains is strictly prohibited, and no overhead cameras or drones will be allowed, nor will it be practical, as a tent will be placed over the excavation site.
Last month, the Public Oversight Committee agreed to move forward with a test excavation in the sexton area in Oaklawn Cemetery, where the initial geophysical investigation identified a large anomaly consistent with a mass grave. This feasibility study would establish the presence or absence of human remains, determine the nature of the interments, and obtain data to help inform the future steps in the investigation, including appropriate recovery efforts. The Physical Investigation team will also conduct additional geophysical investigations in Oaklawn and The Canes where initial results warranted additional examination.
The Public Oversight Committee will not meet in April but will reconvene on May 4 to receive a formal presentation on the findings from the April test excavation and geophysical work.
Three goals were established around the 1921 graves reexamination, including: public oversight, historical context and the physical evidence investigation. For more information on the process, visit: www.cityoftulsa.org/1921graves.