A team of archaeologists and forensic scientists investigating gravesites that may be connected to the Tulsa Race Massacre announced Friday that they found the skeletal remains of children and a Black man with multiple gunshot wounds.
The investigation by the 1921 Graves Investigation team began in July 2020 when archaeologists examined sites potentially linked to the massacre. The team found 12 graves in October 2020 in the area of the "Original 18," where funeral home records show at least 18 Black victims were buried. The team began to exhume graves from the site June 1.
The team announced on Friday that a total of 35 graves were found. From those graves, 19 individuals were taken for forensic analysis, nine of which have been completed.
"Five of those nine were juveniles, and the remaining four are adults," said forensic anthropologist Phoebe Stubblefield, a descendant of a survivor of the massacre who is assisting in the search. She said one individual was an older female, and the remaining adults' ages ranged from 30s to 40s.
Stubblefield said the team examines the shapes of skulls to determine their ancestry.
"So far, when we can detect it, has been of African descent,” she said.
One Black man was found in a casket who still had a bullet lodged in his left shoulder.
"He does have associated trauma," Stubblefield said. "He has multiple projectile wounds ... it affects his cranium and possibly his left arm."
Oklahoma state archaeologist Kary Stackelbeck said that of the 35 graves, only one was marked; the rest have no record of name, age or cause of death.
It's unknown exactly how many Black people died as a result of the Tulsa Race Massacre, which began May 31, 1921, and lasted two days. As many as 300 Black residents were killed and more than 35 square blocks of the area of Greenwood, known as "Black Wall Street," was destroyed.
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Once scientific analysis of the bodies is completed, the Mass Graves Public Oversight Committee will recommend where to permanently bury the people.
Kavin Ross, chair of the Mass Graves Public Oversight Committee and a descendent of a survivor of the massacre, said the process was a "very sobering and very powerful experience," and he hopes for more findings.
"There was no documentation of the few that we did find, by the city or anywhere else. But I'm so happy that we did find these folks," Ross said. "I'm anxious to put them in a proper rest."
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jord_mendoza.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tulsa Race Massacre site: Skeletal remains of children, adults found