An incredibly well-written account of yet another shameful episode in how white people treat others, Killers of the Flower Moon looks at the systematic murder and robbery of the Osage Indians in 1920’s Oklahoma.
Having forced the Osage on to what was thought to be useless, unfertile ground, white Oklahomans were pissed when it turned out that said land turned out to be incredibly oil rich and that the Osage had retained the rights to the fortunes reaped from this in the original agreement to the move. With the Osage soon some of the wealthiest people in the country, let alone Oklahoma, white society’s greed turned as ugly as ever.
First designating the Osage unfit to manage their own money, they were assigned white guardians who decided what they could spend and where – often ensuring they could only buy goods from the people they chose at wildly inflated rates. But that wasn’t enough and soon Osage people were regularly turning up dead, and their deaths either uninvestigated or being blamed on themselves by the white authorities. When the family of one particularly wealthy Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, started dying rapidly by a variety of means and it became staggeringly clear that something terrible was happening to the members of the tribe while being ignored by the local law, the newly forming FBI were brought in.
What they uncovered was a vicious conspiracy in which all of the Osage’s white neighbours – and even their white spouses with whom they’d gone on to have families – seemed to be complicit if not active participants.
David Grann has written an account that brings the players in this ugly scene back to life, and lays bare not only the investigation into the conspiracy and the racism that brought it into being, but the greed and inhumanity that too often lays at the heart of our race.