Killers of the Flower Moon : the Osage murders and the birth of the FBI David Grann
Reviewed by: EPL
History , Nonfiction , Young Adult
Title: Killers of the Flower Moon : the Osage murders and the birth of the FBI
By: David Grann
Call #: YA 976.6 Grann.D
A riveting, grotesque and true story of a dark page in US history and abuse of indigenous peoples. Set deep in the Osage hills at the turn of the century in Indian Territory (Oklahoma prior to statehood), the narrative centers on one family of Osage, Molly Burkhart and her family, who keep dying of mysterious causes. The book tells the back story of the Osage in Oklahoma: their removal to a barren, rocky landscape (the tribe choosing that a harsh unappealing land to white settlers). Around 1900, oil is discovered and the Osage people are suddenly extremely wealthy and have exclusive rights to the oil and money.
In a tale seemingly made for western legends, many Osage begin dying mysterious accidental deaths and their money starts filtering over time into the bank accounts of the white family members and neighbors. Like a page from a dime store mystery novel–yet true!–the local officials are corrupt and eventually the FBI is secretly called in to investigate. After years of investigating, often narrowly escaping death themselves, the FBI agents uncover a large scale plot to kill Osage for their oil rights. The murders are planned and committed by white family members of the Osage backed by the most prestigious leaders in the town. However, even after the men responsible for the murder of Molly’s sisters are finally apprehended (one of whom is her own husband), there are many unaccounted for prior deaths and more Osage continue to die mysteriously.
What the author of “Killers of the Flower Moon” investigates, and many of the Osage come to understand, is that their people are being poisoned, blown up, shot, purposely driven off the road systematically by many whites in the community– spouses, bankers, lawyers, reverends–every day people they have lived beside for years. The resulting story is one of a meager justice for one family, scores to a hundred of unsolved deaths, and a generation of Osage people murdered and wealth and land usurped.