True Story behind Killers of the Flower Moon
The upcoming film, Killers of the Flower Moon, directed by Martin Scorsese, is based on a chilling true story that delves into a dark chapter in American history. The film, set to release on October 6, brings to light the shocking events that unfolded in the 1920s, involving the murders of members of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. This gripping tale of greed, betrayal, and racial injustice is based on the non-fiction book of the same name by journalist David Grann.
The Osage Nation: A History of Resilience
To understand the full impact of the events that transpired, it is essential to delve into the history of the Osage Nation. The Osage people, a Native American tribe of the Great Plains, faced displacement not once, but twice, at the hands of white settlers. First from modern-day Missouri to modern-day Kansas in the early 1800s, and then again to modern-day Oklahoma later in the century. Their new home, located in what is now Osage County, presented a challenging landscape for farming, which they hoped would deter further encroachment by white settlers.
Despite the hardships they faced, the Osage people managed to secure a crucial protection in their allotment agreement with the U.S. government. They retained ownership of any mineral resources found on their land, including oil and coal. This provision proved to be a fortuitous turn of events, as the Osage reservation sat atop one of the largest oil deposits in the United States.
The Discovery of Oil: Wealth and Exploitation
In the early 1920s, the Osage population experienced an unprecedented rise in wealth as the profits from oil extraction began to pour in. According to Grann, the Osage became the richest people per capita in the world, with the trust fund generated from oil sales amounting to millions of dollars. However, the laws of the time prevented the Osage people from having complete control over their newfound wealth due to their Native heritage. This led to a system of guardianship, where white individuals were appointed as overseers of the Osage finances.
While some guardians acted responsibly, ensuring the fair management of funds, others took advantage of their positions, exploiting the Osage people for personal gain. The guardianship program became a breeding ground for corruption and exploitation, with white Americans attempting various schemes to cheat the Osage out of their wealth.
The Reign of Terror: A Series of Mysterious Deaths
As the Osage people enjoyed their newfound prosperity, a wave of mysterious deaths swept through their community. Members of the tribe began to die under suspicious circumstances, raising alarm and fear among the Osage population. Some deaths were classified as accidents, while others were undeniably acts of murder.
Anna Brown, sister of Mollie Burkhart, became one of the first victims of this reign of terror. Her body was discovered with a bullet hole in the back of her skull. The brutality and frequency of these killings shocked the Osage community and left them in a state of fear and despair.
The Investigation Begins: The Birth of the FBI
With local law enforcement unable or unwilling to solve the string of murders, the Osage people turned to higher authorities for help. The case eventually caught the attention of J. Edgar Hoover, who was then the Director of the Bureau of Investigation, the precursor to the FBI. Hoover appointed Tom White, a former Texas Ranger, to lead the investigation into the Osage murders.
White and his team embarked on a relentless pursuit of justice, infiltrating the community and working undercover to gather evidence. Their investigation revealed a vast conspiracy aimed at stealing the oil wealth from the Osage people. The true scope and complexity of the crimes began to unravel, exposing a network of individuals involved in orchestrating the murders.
The Mastermind and the Betrayal Within
Within the heart of the conspiracy lay William Hale, a wealthy cattle rancher known as “The King of Osage Hills.” Hale, played by Robert De Niro in the film, used his influence and connections to mastermind the plot to kill off wealthy Osage individuals. He enlisted the help of his nephew, Ernest Burkhart, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, who was married to Mollie Burkhart, a member of the Osage Nation.
The revelation of Ernest’s involvement in the murders adds another layer of darkness to the story. It highlights the extent to which greed and betrayal permeated the community, as even those married to Osage individuals were complicit in the crimes.
Unmasking the Evil: The Trial and Conviction
As the investigation unfolded, the full extent of the conspiracy became clear. The trial that followed exposed the corruption and evil that had plagued the Osage community for years. In a stunning turn of events, Hale and his accomplices were brought to justice, and the Osage people finally found some semblance of closure.
Legacy and Reflection: A Forgotten American Tragedy
The story of the Osage murders is a forgotten American tragedy, overshadowed by other historical events. However, it serves as a stark reminder of the injustices faced by Native American communities throughout history. The exploitation and violence inflicted upon the Osage people reflect a much larger pattern of systemic racism and oppression.
Killers of the Flower Moon, both the book and the upcoming film, shed light on this dark chapter in American history. They bring to the forefront the stories of the victims, the resilience of the Osage Nation, and the birth of the FBI as a result of these heinous crimes.
Conclusion: The Power of Unearthing the Truth
Killers of the Flower Moon is a testament to the power of unearthing the truth, even in the face of immense adversity. It exposes the depths of human greed and the resilience of those who seek justice. Through Scorsese’s masterful storytelling and the outstanding performances of the cast, the film promises to captivate audiences and shed light on a little-known part of American history.
As we await the release of Killers of the Flower Moon, let us not forget the victims of this forgotten tragedy and the ongoing fight for justice and equality for all. May their stories serve as a reminder of the importance of confronting our past and working towards a more just future.