Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese is not any stranger to bringing true tales to life. His newest work, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” relies on the nonfiction ebook of the identical title by David Grann, which particulars the disturbing, mysterious deaths of over 60 Osage folks in Oklahoma within the Nineteen Twenties, a interval that was later deemed “The Reign of Terror.”

The string of murders of the Osage folks garnered widespread protection throughout the nation, and sparked an investigation by the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), a predecessor to the FBI. And but, this brutal a part of US historical past has not often been explored in literature and faculty curriculum.

Actor JaNae Collins, who portrays the character Reta within the movie, defined to Insider, “The story shows how racism and a general indifference toward Native lives allowed a genocidal land grab to happen and how a conspiracy of silence then prevented it from becoming part of our collective history.”

Earlier than “Killers of the Flower Moon” hits theaters this October, learn on to study in regards to the grisly true story behind the movie.

Who Had been The Osage Tribe?

Within the late nineteenth century, the Osage, an Indigenous American tribe, have been pressured to maneuver from their land in Kansas to territory that’s now modern-day Oklahoma, as reported by Historical past. The land was thought-about undesirable by many, with a rocky and hilly terrain that made it troublesome to develop crops and farm. The Osage, nevertheless, knew that beneath the huge parcel of land was primarily a gold mine that contained an infinite provide of oil, in line with The New York Instances. The land was bought by the Osage for roughly a million {dollars} within the early Nineties, and as soon as they settled into the reservation, positioned within the northeastern area of Oklahoma, in addition they garnered every thing the land needed to provide, together with, “oil, gas, coal [and] other minerals” (through The New York Instances).

In 1897, giant oil deposits have been found on the land, nevertheless it could not be extracted with out a price. Per PBS, oil barons and prospectors like J. Paul Getty and Frank Phillips needed to pay lots of and even hundreds of {dollars} to the Osage for leases and royalties, which made the tribe turn out to be the wealthiest group of individuals on the earth on the time. By the early Nineteen Twenties, the Osage have been millionaires, with Historical past reporting, “in 1923 alone, the 2,000 tribe members collectively received $30 million, the equivalent to $400 million today.”

With their tens of millions, the tribe grew to become recognized for his or her lavish existence, with many proudly owning mansions, a number of automobiles, and having servants. Whereas the Osage have been reaping their deserved advantages, racism and jealousy made the tribe a goal. Round this similar time, Congress handed a regulation that deemed any full-blooded Osage individual “incompetent” and required them to have a guardian to watch their spending. To make issues worse, guardians and different authorized heirs, whether or not Osage or not, have been entitled to the royalties earned from oil manufacturing. This, in fact, led to Osage individuals being focused and changing into victims of bribery, theft, and bride-buying/wife-selling preparations.

Sadly, this would not be the worst of the remedy, and the Osage have been additional victimized by a sequence of murders from 1921 to 1926, which the press named “The Reign of Terror.”

The Osage Murders

Within the early Nineteen Twenties, many members of the Osage tribe have been dying beneath mysterious circumstances, with the case of Anna Brown producing probably the most consideration on the time. In Might 1921, Brown, a rich Osage lady, was discovered lifeless in a ravine with a gunshot wound to the pinnacle, as reported by The Nationwide Museum of the American Indian. Brown was the sister of Mollie Burkhart, whose sister, Minnie, and mom, Lizzie Q., mysteriously died on account of a “peculiar wasting illness,” in line with docs. Burkhart was married to Ernest Burkhart, the nephew of William Hale, a cattleman often known as “The King of Osage Hills.” With three members of the identical household dying so suspiciously shut collectively, along with the deaths of practically two dozen Osage folks between 1921 and 1924, folks of the tribe have been terrified, and wanted solutions that the corrupt native regulation enforcement was not offering them.

In line with The New York Instances, the Osage requested the assistance of oilman Barney McBride to assist remedy the murders. A day after McBride arrived in Washington D.C. to deliver the murders to the eye of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), he was discovered lifeless with over 20 stab wounds to his physique. After J. Edgar Hoover was appointed because the Bureau’s director in 1924, he despatched brokers to Oklahoma to analyze the murders, a few of whom have been murdered through the course of. As a part of the BOI’s investigation, Hoover established an undercover pressure that included Tom White, an investigator from Texas, and John Wren, one of many Bureau’s few Indigenous brokers.

All through a two-year interval, the BOI interviewed over 150 folks to resolve the crime, however many of the proof the brokers collected was both rumors or unsubstantiated. By 1926, nevertheless, they hit a breakthrough.

Who Had been the Killers and What Was Their Motive?

Beneath immense stress throughout an interview by the BOI in 1926, Ernest Burkhart, husband of Mollie, revealed that his uncle, William Hale, was the mastermind behind lots of the Osage murders. Per the Nationwide Museum of the American Indian, Hale orchestrated the killings with the last word objective of inheriting the oil rights and royalties owned by Mollie’s household. He persuaded Burkhart to marry Mollie and devised a plan to homicide members of Mollie’s household, together with her sisters, mom, brother-in-law, and cousin, and make a fortune off of their riches. Hale by no means did the killing himself, and as an alternative employed locals like John Ramsey and Kelsie Morrison to hold out among the murders.

Pictured: William Hale, 1926
Picture Supply: Bettmann Archive / Getty Photographs

What Occurred to William Hale, John Ramsey, and Kelsie Morrison?

In January 1926, Hale, Burkhart, and Ramsey have been taken into custody, as reported by the Oklahoma Historic Society. In April of that 12 months, Morrison and Burkhart’s brother, Byron Burkhart, have been charged with the homicide of Anna Brown. In June 1926, Ernest Burkhart pleaded responsible for his involvement within the murders, particularly for the homicide of William Smith, and was sentenced to life in jail. He testified towards Hale and Ramsey, and in January and November of 1929, they have been sentenced to life in jail for the homicide of Henry Roan, cousin of Anna Brown. All three males have been ultimately paroled, and Burkhart was absolutely pardoned by the governor of Oklahoma in 1965.

“Killers of the Flower Moon” hits theaters on Oct. 20. Watch the trailer under.