If you’ve seen Martin Scorsese’s film “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which runs for a lengthy 3 hours and 26 minutes and features renowned actors like Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio, you might be pondering its authenticity. This dark narrative, set in 1920s Oklahoma, might leave you wondering if it’s grounded in reality. According to USA Today, here’s the inside scoop: “Killers of the Flower Moon” is indeed based on real events.
The Incredible Wealth of the Osage Indians
The movie follows the Osage Nation, a group of Native Americans who became incredibly wealthy due to oil found on their land. By the 1920s, they were among the richest people in the world. The discovery of oil changed their lives, giving them things like cars and servants.
Behind this newfound wealth lies a shocking secret. Journalist David Grann wrote a best-selling book in 2017, which the movie is based on. He did a lot of research and talked to Osage elders. What he found is disturbing: at least 24 Osage tribal members were killed to gain control of their oil rights, often called “headrights.”
These murders took different forms, from marrying into Osage families to shootings and poisonings. The movie mainly focuses on the evil plans of William Hale and his nephew Ernest Burkhart. But the actual murders were more widespread and weren’t properly investigated. Doctors, morticians, and lawmen were often involved, and it’s believed that the death toll could be in the dozens if not hundreds.
Mollie Burkhart, played by Lily Gladstone, plays a crucial role in seeking justice. She fought hard, testified when needed, and even hired private detectives to find the truth. The evil shown in the movie reflects a belief in Western expansion and the end of the Native American way of life.
Involvement of the FBI
In 1921, a young J. Edgar Hoover, who later became the FBI’s director, sent Tom White to Oklahoma to investigate the Osage murders. This was one of the first complex cases for the precursor of the FBI. This case was important in expanding the FBI’s jurisdiction over crimes on Native American lands in the 1930s.
In the movie, you’ll also see a radio play sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes with Martin Scorsese. This was part of J. Edgar Hoover’s efforts to make the FBI look good. While the FBI officially closed the case, a lot remained hidden about the murders.
“Killers of the Flower Moon” might seem dark and unlikely, but it’s based on real history. The incredible wealth of the Osage Indians and the terrible deeds of taking their oil rights are a dark part of American history. This story shines a light on a sad time of greed and exploitation.
Now you know that “Killers of the Flower Moon” is indeed based on true events, reminding us of the injustices the Osage Nation faced