*A team of forensic archaeologists at the University of Oklahoma believe they have found a possible mass grave site from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre at a city cemetery.
Geophysical scanning identified two spots at the Oaklawn Cemetery that might have bodies of those killed in the nation’s least talked about race riots that occurred almost 100 years ago.
Tulsa officials investigating the sites previously said that the next phase could include excavation and an investigation into causes of death, Washington Post reports.
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Official death tolls at the time accounted for 36 people killed in the #TulsaRaceMassacre , although experts have long believed that the number could be in the hundreds.
The discovery of a mass grave could prove experts right. https://t.co/LkYp1xhovK
— zellie (@zellieimani) December 17, 2019
“The cause of death determination would be an important step to the investigation,” city officials said in a statement, “as remains will be close to 100 years old and a Spanish Influenza outbreak occurred in Tulsa in 1919 prior to the Race Massacre in 1921.”
If mass graves are found, the city and oversight committee would decide on next steps “as it relates to storing remains, DNA testing and genealogical research, and commemorating the grave sites and honoring the remains.”
“The only way to move forward in our work to bring about reconciliation in Tulsa is by seeking the truth honestly,” Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said in a statement to The Washington Post. “We knew opening this investigation 98 years later, there would be both unknowns and truths to uncover. But we are committed to exploring what happened in 1921 through this collective and transparent process filling gaps in our city’s history, and providing healing and justice to our community.”
News of the possible mass graves comes more than 20 years after forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow found anomalies with “all the characteristics of a dug pit or trench with vertical walls and an undefined object within the approximate center of the feature,” the Tulsa Race Riot Commission wrote in its 2001 report.