Scientists Excavating Tulsa Race Massacre Site Unearth Skeleton With Bullet WoundsBreaking News
tags: African American history, Tulsa race massacre
Forensic scientists and archaeologists investigating a mass grave near the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre have unearthed skeletal remains, including that of a Black man with multiple gunshot wounds to his head and shoulder, officials announced Friday.
The remains were initially found in October, when authorities were excavating the Black section of Oaklawn Cemetery as part of the investigation into a search for mass graves that may be connected to the massacre. But they were left in the ground until city officials received permission from a judge to exhume them for forensic analysis.
In June, after the excavation was resumed, scientists discovered 35 coffins in the unmarked mass grave. The remains of 19 people were taken to a science lab on-site, not far from the mass grave. So far, officials said, they have completed preliminary analysis on nine of those human remains.
“Five of those nine were juveniles,” said Phoebe Stubblefield, the lead forensic anthropologist working on the investigation. “The remaining four are adults. One was an older female. The others were adults who range in age from 30s to their 40s.”
Stubblefield said the analysis has also looked for clues of race. “Ancestry so far, when we can detect it, has been of African descent,” Stubblefield said. “We are looking for features … determining ancestry by the shape of the skull.”
She said one set of the remains examined was that of a Black man who was buried in a plain casket in a section of the city-owned cemetery set aside for indigent residents.
Stubblefield told reporters during a news conference Friday that one man had a bullet still lodged in his left shoulder area.
“He does have associated trauma,” she said. “He has multiple projectile wounds.”
Last July, Tulsa officials began digging for mass graves. The first “test excavation” ended without finding human remains, but the city expanded its search. On June 1, the 100th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the city expanded its search for mass graves in Oaklawn, and a new pit was excavated in another section of the cemetery.