On Wednesday (Oct. 21), at least 10 bodies were found in an unmarked grave at a Tulsa, Oklahoma cemetery where investigators were searching for the remains of victims from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
“What we were finding was an indication that we were inside a large area ... a large hole that had been excavated and into which several individuals had been placed and buried in that location. This constitutes a mass grave,” archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck said.
Almost a century ago, hundreds of Black people were killed by a white mob who attacked Tulsa’s Black Wall Street — an area that was flourishing economically and culturally for African-Americans at that time.
“Those skeletal remains are not in great condition,” Stackelbeck said. “They’re not the worst condition we have seen ... but they’re not the best.”
Forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield, a descendant of a Tulsa Massacre victim, assisted in the search. “We will need considerable time to investigate them because the preservation — teeth have been showing up OK — but non-dental structures have deteriorated,” she said.
Earlier this week, REVOLT reported that the second round of excavations were set to begin on Monday (Oct. 19). The first round of excavations were unsuccessful, but investigators believed the remains were located in the Greenwood District, where the massacre took place, and the Oaklawn Cemetery.
The remains that were found on Wednesday still have to be identified by investigators. “We have not yet made our assessment to say that these do actually represent the massacre victims,” Stackelbeck said. “Whether they are associated with the same event or the same time period of burial is something that we are still in the process of assessing.”