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Tulsa resumes search for Massacre victims at Oaklawn Cemetery

by Ezekiel J. Walker
Tulsa resumes search for Massacre victims at Oaklawn Cemetery
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The search for victims of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre resumed Wednesday with the start of a second excavation of Oaklawn Cemetery.

Mayor G.T. Bynum stated a second cemetery excavation was suggested by the team of archaeologists, forensic anthropologists and DNA experts who participated in the initial excavation in 2021.

“A great deal of material and information was collected from that,” Bynum told a press conference at City Hall. “And then, based on that, our team of researchers came back to the city earlier this year and made a recommendation that we do a second excavation expanding the original area that had been investigated, and that is what we will begin today.”

“The reality is with the nature of this, trying to find people who were deliberately hidden over a century ago after they were murdered, is very challenging,” Bynum added.

Mass graves search resumes at Oaklawn Cemetery

KTUL reported last summer’s excavation at Oaklawn found the remains of 19 people buried in an unmarked mass grave.

The lab working with the DNA, Intermountain Forensics, said it only has two samples it feels confident about from last summer, of the 14 sets of remains it received, reported by NewsOn6.

“We went back to seven individuals to obtain additional samples,” State archeologist Dr. Kary Stackelbeck said.

Those samples came from individuals who were found last summer, and revisited now for the purpose of extracting more DNA.

According to Tulsa World, researchers said they hope to gather more DNA samples from the 19 sets of remains exhumed — and later re-interred — from the southwest section of the city-owned cemetery last year. The expanded excavation area would extend to the south and west of the original excavation area.

If successful, the DNA gathered when compared with the DNA of relatives of victims could prove if this is a mass grave from 1921 massacre victims.

According to officials, they are expected to finish the Friday before Thanksgiving, Nov. 18, though the forensic work and reburial will occur likely after that time.

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“Oaklawn” documentary depicts Tulsa’s 1921 mass graves search November 7, 2022 - 10:51 pm

[…] tells the story behind the public meetings and comments about the investigation into the search of the unmarked graves stemming from the Race Massacre. It highlights the […]

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