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Tulsa’s First Dig For Suspected Mass Graves From 1921 Massacre Of Black People Finds No Human Remains

Tulsa’s first dig for suspected mass graves from a century-old massacre of black people did not uncover human remains, city officials announced Wednesday. But they plan to expand the search to other areas of Oaklawn Cemetery, the city-owned graveyard where anomalies were detected last year by ground-penetrating radar.

“This initial test excavation was the first of many efforts to find Tulsa Race Massacre victims, and this is just the beginning of our work to bring healing and justice to the families,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum (R) said in a statement. “We remain committed to find out what happened to our fellow Tulsans in 1921.”

The test excavation by archaeologists found debris and artifacts, some of which may date back to the 1920s. Archaeologists also found a bullet, two pairs of shoes and a buried road.

“At this point, we believe we have fully investigated this anomaly, and unfortunately we have not discovered the evidence of race massacre victims we were hoping to find,” said Kary Stackelbeck, Oklahoma’s state archaeologist. “But we have learned a great deal about the cemetery itself, and this is information we can carry forward as we investigate future sites.”

Although the scientists said their radar findings are promising, the only way to determine precisely what lies beneath the ground is to dig. The initial excavation began July 13 after being delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Scott Ellsworth, chair of the physical investigation committee, said the team remains committed to exploring every lead. “Nothing about uncovering the race massacre has been easy,” said Ellsworth, author of “Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.” “We have other sites. We’re ready to go.”

Read entire article at Washington Post