Killers of the Flower Moon: The True Story of the Conspiracy Against the Osage Nation That Inspired Martin Scorsese
Wealth can breed envy and conspiracy, and this was no different for the Osage Nation Indians in the early 20th century. The discovery of vast amounts of oil on their land made them the richest people in the world, but it also led to mysterious disappearances and deaths among their members. What few people knew at the time was that they had only discovered oil on their new land after being evicted from the land they originally owned. This true story inspired Martin Scorsese’s film Killers of the Flower Moon, based on the book of the same name by David Grann.
Despite the renewed attention this tragic event received, most of the crimes committed against the Osage Nation during the 1920s have yet to be solved. However, a culprit closely related to the case was found. The film tells the story of a conspiracy that was carried out to kill indigenous millionaires, an organization arising to assassinate the Osage and steal all their money. This became the first significant case of what would later become known as the FBI.
Eric Roth, the film’s screenwriter, believes that Killers of the Flower Moon “will be one of the great movies.” And considering the importance of the story, it’s not hard to see why. Members of the Osage tribe were murdered under mysterious circumstances in the 1920s, prompting the FBI to conduct an extensive investigation. Leading this investigation was J. Edgar Hoover and Officer Thomas Bruce White Sr., also called Tom White, an old-style legislator.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Lily Gladstone are the actors who will star in the film. Gladstone plays Mollie Burkhart, an extraordinary woman born in Indian Country, who had three sisters and spoke the Osage language. Her family became the target of a conspiracy that led to the murder of her sisters. During Grann’s investigation, it was found that atrocities like placing a bomb under her house, and killing part of her family, only became possible with the authorities’ collaboration. DiCaprio plays Burkhart’s husband, a man apparently involved in the conspiracy.
The investigation revealed numerous people involved in the conspiracy, ranging from doctors who helped to poison the Osages, law enforcement officers who were complicit or never took action, to funeral home workers covering up the murders. Even journalists avoided reporting what was happening. A young J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI’s Bureau of Investigation, got involved, but the team he sent to investigate made mistakes, like trying to use a bandit named Blackie to help them, who ended up committing several crimes. Everything changed when forest ranger Tom White entered the scene, putting together an undercover team that exposed the conspiracy. They discovered a man called William Hale, who became “the king of the Osage hills” thanks to his control over the territory. He and others were eventually revealed to be the culprits. Although they received sentences, most of those involved in the disappearances and murders regained their freedom shortly after. The culprits were never made to pay for what they did to the Osages.
The film adaptation of Killers of the Flower Moon was acquired in 2016, but filming only started in 2021 with a budget of $200 million. Apple TV+ joined as a co-producer to help finance the project. The story is important because it sheds light on the Osage Nation’s history and the injustices they suffered at the hands of those who conspired against them. It shows the magnitude of the Osages’ wealth, which allowed them to break stereotypes about indigenous peoples in the United States. Hopefully, this film will bring attention to their story, and their legacy will not be forgotten.