Officials said they have encountered human remains during a test excavation in the search for possible graves from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.
This is the first time remains have been found in this search, and archaeologists said it's still too soon to know if the remains are connected to the massacre.
Experts said the discovery provides insight and optimism in the search for victims who could be buried in mass graves.
More than a year after the Oklahoma Archeological Survey started its work at Oaklawn Cemetery in the search for race massacre victims, the team found human remains.
They were found with splinters and nails left behind from a wooden coffin, about three feet underground, along with a plaque. State archeologist Dr. Kary Stackelbeck said more remains from a possible second person were found in a separate area.
The focus on Tuesday was at the "Original 18" site, which is adjacent to two 1921 race massacre headstones. The headstones belong to Eddie Lockard and Reuben Everett, both with death dates of June 1, 1921. Archeologists and historians said other people are expected to be buried nearby.
Going forward, the team will be looking for any signs of trauma, like burning, or gunshot wounds, to help make a determination about any possible connections to the massacre. Funeral home and death certificate records will give experts insight as well.
Stackelbeck said she's optimistic for a few reasons. She said their field work methods are working, they now know human remains are discoverable and potentially recoverable. She also said they have an idea of how deep to search for more remains in the area.
In a statement, Mayor G.T. Bynum said he's grateful for the experts, saying, "We will continue to take this investigation one step at a time, wherever it may lead."