The Week (US)

The search for remains


A hundred years after the massacre, the locations of the remains of most of the victims remain a mystery. Hunting them down has become a mission for several Black forensic anthropolo­gists, including Phoebe Stubblefie­ld, a research scientist at the University of Florida. That effort is hampered by the lack of historical records about the massacre and what happened afterward. There are stories of bodies loaded on trucks and dumped in the Arkansas River, thrown down mine shafts, or burned in the city incinerato­r. None of the stories has been verified or disproved, and until recently, searches for graves have been unsuccessf­ul. But in October, Stubblefie­ld and a team of archaeolog­ists used ground-penetratin­g radar to survey the Oaklawn Cemetery, in eastern Tulsa, and discovered 12 previously undocument­ed wooden coffins. They believe they could be connected to Greenwood, and a massive excavation of the cemetery began last week. So far, 20 coffins have been found.

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