Archaeologist Explains Significance of Pair of Shoes Found During Mass Graves Search

Tuesday, July 21st 2020, 5:27 pm
By: Amy Slanchik


Archaeologists are working to learn more about a pair of shoes discovered in the search for possible mass graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.

Archaeologists said the leather shoes were found together and at first glance, appear to be women's shoes. During a news conference, State Archaeologist Dr. Kary Stackelbeck said it appears there is one left shoe and one right shoe.

The team working at the Oaklawn Cemetery site also found a decorative pail or bucket near the shoes. The bucket still has a handle on it.

Stackelbeck said the shoes, which were found about 10-feet underground, are significant for three reasons. The first reason being, they will be able to take a closer look at them and determine the style, and rough date for the era they came from.

The next reason for their significance, she said, is that the shoes are in good condition.

Stackelbeck explained, the context in which the shoes were found is the third reason for their significance. She said the pair of shoes is not like other shoe fragments they have found earlier in the search.

"This is the first one that we've had that was found in good context that we think reflects an intentional activity -- an intentional action of placement -- as opposed to being incidentally mixed in with other kinds of trash,” she said.

The team of archaeologists, anthropologists and historians also finding several bottles, including one type of bottle they can specifically say stopped being produced in 1910. The bottle itself could be even older than that.

The team said after collecting core samples from the ground Monday, they have decided to move east and dig a third and likely final trench in their search at the cemetery.

The group expects the test excavation to wrap up by the end of the week.