New dig at Oaklawn Cemetery underway in search for Tulsa Race Massacre mass graves

TULSA, Okla. — A new dig is underway in the ongoing search for mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

The city scheduled a full excavation and analysis of the Original 18 site at Oaklawn Cemetery on Tuesday which will be led by the University of Oklahoma - Oklahoma Archaeological Survey (OAS) and the 1921 Graves Physical Investigation Committee.

Historians say they believe hundreds of people who were killed in the massacre 100 years ago have yet to be found.

Investigators found crews found at least 12 sets of remains in coffins at the cemetery.

The city is expecting the dig to take weeks, if not months, to complete.

Here are the rules from the city about visiting the dig site:

  • Photography/video of human remains is strictly prohibited. To ensure no photographs or videos are taken of human remains, a screening fence will be placed around the excavation site.
  • During the test excavation, Oaklawn Cemetery will be closed to the public. Oaklawn Cemetery will be open on Memorial Day.
  • Two cultural monitors will be on-site to view the excavation with the researchers.
  • Parking will not be available at Oaklawn Cemetery. On-street parking should be utilized in the nearby residential neighborhood located across 11th St. from the cemetery on S. Norfolk Ave.
  • Historians, including members on the Investigation’s Historical Context Committee, will be on site along with a videographer from the City of Tulsa to track progress and take pictures/video of the process.
  • No helicopters, overhead cameras or drones will be allowed (except for the City’s videographer when human remains are not present).
  • Photos, video, and drone footage from the City’s videographer will be uploaded to a public shared drive that anyone can download and use, which can be found at: www.cityoftulsa.org/1921graves.
  • Individuals are asked to follow cemetery rules while viewing the investigatory work including: Avoiding playing loud music and keeping the volume of voices down. Children should be accompanied with an adult and pets must be leashed.