Tulsa Race Massacre: Test excavation postponed for 1921 mass graves

TULSA, Okla. — A test excavation for possible mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre is postponed

Archaeologists and experts were set to begin their excavation on April 1, but the test was postponed to an undetermined date after the threat of coronavirus hindered the work.

The team is comprised of people from the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey, OU Department of Anthropology, University of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office, University of Florida and the Florida Gulf Coast University.

The team will use heavy machinery to take off the first layer of soil of an 8-by-10 foot area, then archaeologists will sift the soil by hand to find evidence of remains.

The test excavation will give them a better idea of whether they are digging in the right area and what’s underground. If they do find remains, they will carefully gather as much evidence as they can without removing the remains, and then make plans to remove them at another time.

There will be a public viewing area adjacent to the test site. Any images or video of possible remains will be prohibited to ensure dignity to victims.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has requested to be present at the test excavation to monitor, as they believe their ancestors may be buried in a nearby area in an unmarked grave.

City officials say they have reached a verbal agreement with the owners of the Rolling Oaks Memorial Garden to do geophysical scans.