A total of 15 new burials have been excavated to find the remains of the Tulsa Massacre victims at the Oaklawn Cemetary. According to archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck, these burials add to the 12 uncovered back in October.
“But now, we’re at this point where we’re doing the hand excavations, this is where Cardno’s team is using smaller hand tools to remove the soil from on top of, and then around, the skeletal remains that are contained within those coffins, and then they will be documented in place,” Stackelbeck said.
Stackelbeck warns that as more graves are uncovered as excavations continue, some of these deaths could have been caused by the 1918-1919 flu pandemic and not the Tulsa Massacre.
“So we have to remain cautious and not get too ahead of ourselves in terms of our interpretations. So we’re working with our multiple hypotheses about what can explain the presence of a mass grave,” she said, adding that the graves from the massacre are “absolutely still a possible scenario.”
A Tulsa city news release said that once exhumed, the city will storing the remains, DNA testing and research, and commemorating the gravesites, and honoring the remains.
According to the City of Tulsa, the exhumation of the mas gravesite may take months, not including the process of identifying bodies and determining if they were victims of the Tulsa Massacre.