Cherokee Road Crews Uncover Possible Burial Ground

Friday, October 5th 2012, 6:08 pm
By: Craig Day

A potentially significant discovery took place in Cherokee County recently.

Crews doing easement work for a future road project may have discovered a previously unknown Cherokee cemetery.

Cherokee road crews were in the process of doing right of way acquisition work for a project planned for Tenkiller School Road, when the landowner brought something significant to their attention.

Two unmarked sandstones in a pasture.

"This isn't something we face on every road project, fortunately, but when we do find something of this nature, we certainly want to take care to do what we can to preserve it," road department director Michael Lynn said.

Lynn thought the stones could possibly be markers for a Cherokee burial site.

Crews later used ground penetrating radar.

"Scans the surface of the ground, kind of tells what is underneath the ground and any irregularities or anomalies that are underneath the surface of the ground," Lynn said.

The radar indicated the possibility of 61 different grave sites, which are now marked with flags.

Nothing has shown up on any historical documents so far, so it's unknown if it might be a Cherokee community or even an animal burial site.

"The fact that it's not on any historical register found as of yet, is a little more of a shock," Lynn said.

The area is being left undisturbed until its cultural significance, if any, is determined.

"We certainly want to avoid any impact to this or any other culturally sensitive site, and try to enhance it if nothing else in the end," Lynn said.

Archaeologists will do more research of historical records for Cherokee burial grounds and will survey the site.

Any further action on that right of way is on hold until the mystery is solved.