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1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Graves Update – Oct. 21, 3 p.m.

This article was archived on 11/8/2020

Following three days of the second test excavation at Oaklawn Cemetery, at least 11 coffins holding human remains have been found where anomalies were previously detected. It remains to be determined whether the burials are associated with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Experts noted the preservation level for the remains is less than ideal and they do not want the integrity of the remains to be compromised. Experts are continuing to determine the perimeter of the grave shaft where the coffins are located. Due to the soil conditions and level of bone preservation, experts are not recommending the remains be exposed until they can be fully excavated and analyzed. Experts plan to file for required excavation permits based upon the information obtained through this test excavation and resume once grants are permitted and weather conditions allow.

The area where remains were found has been previously referenced as the Original 18 site, located adjacent to two 1921 race massacre headstones in the historical African American section of the Potters Field. Funeral home records and other documents for 1921 show that at least 18 identified and unidentified African American massacre victims were buried in the City-owned cemetery. 

To see the full update from Kary Stackelbeck, State Archeologist with the State of Oklahoma, visit the 1921 Graves Facebook page, @1921Graves. 

For more information about the 1921 Graves Investigative process and for more updates and photos/videos, visit: www.cityoftulsa.org/1921graves