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The Healing Power Of Restorative Justice Archaeology

Monday, October 2, 2023 12pm to 1:30pm

3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

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In the wake of renewed public interest in this story Greenwood and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre the nation is fixated on unearthing evidence of trauma and violence done to this historic community. However, a new collaborative archaeology project titled “Mapping Historical Trauma in Tulsa from 1921 to 2021” remains focused on finding signs of life and recovery in the aftermath of the massacre, as the Greenwood community rebuilt their homes, businesses and churches and continue to fight against erasure and gentrification in the present day. Join Dr. Odewale (a native Tulsan, archaeologist, educator, and descendant of a survivor) as she continues to utilize community-centered, restorative justice, anti-racist and Black feminist archaeology methods to examine the aftermath of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. She will present some preliminary results of this collaborative research including the use of restorative justice archaeology and surviving cultural landscapes to bear witness to trauma and erasure that is no longer visible above ground. Using archaeology as a tool for social justice, this field has the power to reclaim and reimagine that which was taken by violence and help communities heal from the lingering trauma. 


As an African Diaspora Archaeologist with a background in Restorative Justice, Antiracist, Black Feminist, and Community-centered Archaeology, Dr. Odewale researches sites of African heritage in the US and Caribbean region. She also leads the archaeological and educational consulting firm, Archaeology Rewritten. In the field, she is the co-director of the research project, Mapping Historical Trauma in Tulsa from 1921-2021, which uses archaeology to understand more about the survivance of Greenwood and Black community resilience after the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. Paired with this ongoing research project is an accompanying field school offering free training in archaeological survey and mapping plus paid internships for students who reside in Oklahoma.

When she is not in the field, Dr. Odewale enjoys teaching and mentoring students at all levels, from elementary to PhD. Hailing from a long line of educators, she uses archaeology both inside and outside of the classroom as a lens to view but also change history. Currently she teaches both online and in-person as part of Black History Saturdays in Tulsa, OK, working alongside a coalition of educators to ensure Black History is taught in Oklahoma despite the legislative removal of culturally informed lessons from our school curriculums. Through her work with Rice University, National Geographic Society, and HBCUs across the country, she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses while sharing Greenwood’s story and her journey to becoming an archaeologist with students around the world. Now thanks to a grant from National Geographic Society, her and her co-director are launching the first archaeology curriculum in Greenwood designed to blend lessons of archaeology, history, genealogy, and archival research and led by archaeologists and descendants.

As a Speaker for National Geographic LIVE and Lead Tulsa Storyteller for 2892 Miles to Go: Geographic Walk for Justice, Dr. Odewale continues to share the power of archaeology and Black community resilience through her National Geographic Live show “Greenwood: A Century of Resilience, as well as an ongoing partnership with HBCUs and the Disney on the Yard program. Leading up to this national speaking tour, she also starred in the Emmy Award winning documentary, “Dreamland: The Burning of Black Wall Street”, now streaming on HBO Max and CNNGo. Her work with National Geographic, 2892, Film makers, and other media outlets provide an opportunity for her to go beyond the classroom and traditional academic publications to share her work in new and innovative ways with the world.

Dr. Odewale continues to be a fierce advocate for the inclusion of archaeology in the classroom and in the history of Greenwood, while pushing for increased diversity in academia and across the field of archaeology. She is both a living descendant of a survivor of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre and a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School, a historically Black high school created during Oklahoma’s Jim Crow era and one of the few structures that survived the attack on Greenwood in 1921.

Through her role as a board member for the Nat Geo Oklahoma Advisory Council and leader of the non-profit organization, The Greenwood Diaspora Project, she now works alongside a team of community advocates to both recognize and fill in gaps in funding for students and teachers in North Tulsa while sharing a mission to reconnect families across the Greenwood Diaspora back to their roots in Oklahoma.

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