More coffins linked to 1921 Tulsa massacre discovered

(ORDO NEWS) — Searches for the remains of victims of the racial massacre in Tulsa in 1921 turned up 21 more coffins in unmarked graves in the city’s Oklon Cemetery.

On Friday and Saturday, seventeen graves of adults were found. Oklahoma State Archaeologist Cary Stackelbeck City officials announced that four other graves have also been discovered – two adults and two children.

The coffins, and then the remains inside, will be examined to see if they match the 1921 data that the victims of the 1921 race massacre were men buried in simple coffins. So far, the gender of the dead has not been established.

During the 1921 massacre, white racists persecuted blacks. They burned over 1,000 houses, ransacked hundreds, and destroyed a thriving business district known as Black Wall Street. Historians estimate the death toll from 75 to 300 people.

There have been rumors of mass unmarked graves for decades, but previous searches have failed to turn up the remains.

The last search began in 2020 in areas where ground penetrating radar identified places where the coffins might be. Almost three dozen coffins were found last year.

Fourteen of the remains exhumed from these coffins were selected for DNA testing, two of which had sufficient DNA samples to begin sequencing and genealogical profiling.

All remains will be reburied, at least temporarily, in Oklon. The previous reburial had been closed to the public, prompting protests by about two dozen people who said they were descendants of the victims of the massacre and should have been admitted.

The surviving victims of the massacre never received compensation. A pending lawsuit seeks damages for the three surviving survivors. Now they are over 100 years old.

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