Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI

David Ferriero>>Good Afternoon, I’m David
Ferriero, Archivist of the United State, and it’s a pleasure to welcome you to the William
G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives this afternoon. If you are in the theater by YouTube, I’m
glad you could join us for this discussion of David Grann’s new book Killers of the Flower
Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Before we get started I wanted to alert you
to two other programs here in the McGowan Theater. Tomorrow at 7pm we continue the celebration
of President John F. Kennedy’s 100th birthday with a concert by the Air Force Strings. This acclaimed ensemble will provide musical
selections that were performed in the Kennedy White House. And on Tuesday, June 20th at Noon
Douglas Edgerton will be here to talk about his newest book, Thunder at the Gates: The
Black Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America. Which chronicles the formation and battlefield
triumphs of the 54th and 55th Massachusetts infantry and the 5th Cavlary. To learn more about these and all of our programs
and exhibitions consult our monthly calendar of events there are copies in the lobby as
well as sign-up sheets where you can receive it by regular mail or e-mail. And you will also find brochures of other
National Archives activities.>>In Killers of the Flower Moon, David Grann
has unearthed a story of murder, corruption and injustice. It is probably safe to say that most of us
had not the mysterious deaths of Osage women and men in the 1920’s. But stories, once forgotten can gain new life when some one seeks out the historical records and puts the pieces together. In reviewing of the Killers of the Flower
Moon in the Washington Post, Scott Berg wrote “…he’s canny about the stories he chases. He is willing to go anywhere to chase them. He is a maestro in his ability to parcel out
information at just the right clip.” Tom Drury of Slate remarks “…Grann’s singular
style is to find stories, that while not unknown, is not known enough. He digs so deeply and precisely into the historical
record that that what he finds not only amplifies and build upon the record but arrives with a force of revelation. What makes Killers of the Flower Moon so compulsively
readable is Grann’s ability to draw characters from the page of history and give them the aura of living, breathing humans.” Every day people make discoveries in the National
Archives and in archives and collections around the globe. We who work with those records encourage the
curious to seek out stories behind the stories. I am so proud that this story was made possible
by access to records here at the National Archives. David Grann is a New York Times bestselling
author and an award-winning staff writer at the New Yorker Magazine. His first book, The Lost City of Z: A Tale
of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon became a number one New York Times bestseller, was
chosen as one of the best books of 2009 by multiple news outlets and has also been adapted
into a major motion picture. The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, his collection
of stories was named by Men’s Journal one of the best true-crime books every written. His stories
have also appeared in The Best American Crime Writing, the Best American Sports Writing
and the Best American Non-Required Reading. He has previously written for the New York
Times magazine, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal
and the New Republic. Introducing David is a special pleasure.
David was the 2013-2014 David Ferriero Fellow at the Cullman Center for Writers and Scholars
at the New York Public Library. Ladies and gentlemen please welcome David
Grann.>>Applause>David, thank you for that lovely introduction. Thank you all for coming today. I really would not be here without David and
without the support of the National Archives. This book is really based on archives both
here and in Maryland, and the National Archives out in Fort Worth, Texas. I spent many, many week and much of the book
is rooted in the materials I found here. And so this place really is a national treasure
and this book would not exist without it.>>I want to talk to you a little bit about
the new book. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders
and the Birth of the FBI, and the book began–the project began several years ago when I
made a visit out to Osage Territory the Osage Nation in Northeast Oklahoma. And when I was there, I visited the Osage
Nation Museum. On the wall they had this enormous panoramic
photograph, which if you later see the book, the full picture is across the title page. It is quite enormous. And it looks very innocent. It was taken in 1924 it shows members of the
tribe along with white settlers, but I noticed at the museum that a portion of the photograph
was missing, that somebody had cut it out, it looks like some one had taken a scissors
to it. And I asked the museum director, who I was
meeting for the first time, she would later become a friend of mine over the years, I
said “…what happened to that missing panel?”. And she said it had contained a figure so
frightening that she had decided to remove it. She then pointed to the missing panel and
she said the Devil was standing right there. And the book grew out of trying to understand
who that figure was and the anguishing history he embodied. And it lead me to what I would come to realize,
was one of the most sinister crimes in American history, one I believe, tells a much larger
story about this country. Now to understand the crime you need to
understand that when they took place which was in the early 20th century. The Osage Indians of Oklahoma at that time
were millionaires. Oil had been discovered under their land and
prospectors had to pay the Osage for leases and royalties and so early on when oil was
discovered the Osage began to receive a few hundred dollars, and then the amounts grew
to the thousands. There were only about 2000 Osage on the tribal
rolls. And then it began to accumulate in to the
millions. In 1923, in that year alone, 2000 Osage on
the tribal roll received what would be worth more than four hundred million dollars. They had become the wealthiest people per
capita in the world. Lo and behold, a New York newspaper exclaimed,
The Indian, rather than starving to death, enjoy a steady income that turns bankers green
with envy. The public became transfixed with the Osage
oil wealth. Which belies long-standing stereotypes about
Native Americans that dates all the way back to their first brutal contact with whites. Reporters would head out there and describe
with an element of prejudice and envy and wonder, the quote-unquote red millionaires. the quote-unqoute plutocratic Osage. The terra cotta mansions, and their servants,
many of whom were white. It was said at the time where as one American
might own a car each Osage owned eleven of them. And this photograph is quite striking, you
can see a traditional Osage mother with her daughters in the 20’s dressed as flappers. Now the tangled history of how the Osage
got hold of this oil-rich land dates all the way back to the 17th century. The Osage controlled what was then the central
part of the country. All the way from Missouri, Kansas all the
way out to the edge of the Rockies. In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson referred
to the Osage as The Great Nation. They actually met with a delegation of Osage
chiefs at the White House and he assured them that the US government would treat them only
as friends and benefactors, but of course within a few years he began to drive them
off their land and over the next few decades the Osage were forced to cede more than a
hundred million acres of their ancestral territory. In the 1860’s they were bunched up in a reservation
in Kansas. Once more they were under siege by settlers
and squatters. Among them was none other than the family
of Laura Ingalls Wilder. And a scene in the novel, which was loosely
based on her experience, Laura asked her mom. “Why don’t you like Indians? I Just don’t like them, and don’t lick your
fingers Laura. This is indian country isn’t it? Laura said.What did we come to this country
for if you don’t like them? One evening Laura’s father explained to her
that the government will soon make the Osages move away. That’s why we are here Laura. White people are going to settle all this
country, and we get the best land because we get here first and take our pick. In fact, many of the squatters began to seize the
land by force. There were massacres, the Osage were being driven off their land again. And the Osage finally agreed once more to
sell their territory and search again for new home land. A US government official said at the time during
these massacres, when their land was being taken in Kansas “The question will suggest
itself, which of these people are the savages.” So once the Osage sold their land they needed
to find a new home land. And it was then that this Osage chief stood
up at an Osage meeting, tribal meeting, and he said we should move to what was then Indian
territory, that would later become Oklahoma. We should move there because the land is rocky,
its infertile and the white man considers it basically worthless and they will finally leave
us alone. There is a transcript from his statement,
my people will finally be happy here. And so the Osage sold their territory and
bought this territory, it is about the size of Delaware but whites did consider it worthless,
no good for farming. They bought it for seventy cents per acre
and re-settled there. And by then the forced migrations had taken a tremendous toll on the tribe. Their numbers had dwindled to just a few thousand, a third of what they had been just seventy years earlier from disease and massacres. Here you can see an early settlement on their new
reservation with their lodges which are like wig-wams. Now in 1906, the US government decided it
wanted to make Indian territory part of the state of Oklahoma and it tried to force upon
the Osage the final stage of its very brutal assimilation campaign. And that was called allotment. For those of you not familiar, allotment was
essentially a policy the the US government imposed on many American Indian nations, which
was to break up the reservations divvying up the land into private parcels. Each member of the tribe would receive an
allotment, the rest of the territory would be opened up to settlers. The Osage had seen what happened when a territory
near them, that was in Cherokee territory, was been opened up to settlers. It led to these Oklahoma land runs that are
very famous. This is an actual photograph from the land
run. White settlers would race down by foot or
on horse , a bicycle any which way they could and if they could get to the land first and
put a stake in to it they would claim it. Now when the Osage were negotiating the terms
of their allotment treaty with the US government they had more leverage than other American
Indian nations. Because, one, they owned a deed to their land,
two, there was kind of a race to make Oklahoma a state and they were the last tribe to be
allotted. And, three, they were being led by one of
the greatest chiefs at the time. A man who spoke seven languages including
French, Siouan and Latin. And they managed to insert into their treaty
provision a term and statement that at the time seemed rather curious. It said “we shall maintain all the subsurface
mineral rights to our territory”. The Osage had a hint at that time that there
was some oil under their land, but nobody thought they were sitting upon a fortune,
and they managed to hold on very shrewdly to this last bit of territory, the last realm,
a realm they could not even see. Each Osage was granted a head right, a share
in this mineral trust. A head right cannot be bought or sold, can
only be inherited. After allotment much of the surface territory
disappeared into the hands of whites. That subsurface territory could not be bought
or sold. And so the Osage effectively maintained control on what would become the first underground reservation. Before long the oil boom had begun. There was such demand to drill in Osage territory that prospectors, including a lot of the most famous oil barons, names you would be familiar with like JP Getty and his family first struck oil in Osage territory. E. W. Marlin, the Phillips brothers, Harry Sinclair — they would travel to Osage territory and there would be these auctions. where they would gather under this very stately… Here is a picture of Frank Phillips and some
of his executives, arriving for an auction for leases on a private railroad car known as and Millionaire
Special, and they would gather under this tree a stately elm tree, bidding on leases of parcels of land to drill on. A single lease could sell for as much as two-thousand dollars. This tree became known as the million dollar
elm. As the Osage prosperity increased many
Americans expressed alarm because of prejudice. You have to understand this was the 1920’s. The period of the Great Gatsby, of great profligacy. But for some reason the Osage and their money were scape-goated. Members of the US congress would sit in their committee hearing rooms and debate and discuss what they were going to do about these Osage and all their money? They went so far as to pass legislation requiring that many Osage have white guardians to oversee their finances. Now this system was not abstractly racist it was literally racist. It was based on a quantum of Osage blood. If you’re a full-blooded Osage you were deemed
“incompetent” and given a white guardian. you could be an Osage chief who led a nation, have millions millions in your trust and you had a white guardian telling you whether you could buy or that car, or whether you could get that toothpaste down at the corner store. Not only was the system racist, it led to one of the largest state and federally sanctioned criminal enterprises as many of the guardians swindled, embezzled millions and millions of dollars. At a congressional hearing this Osage chief testified the whites had put them down here in the roughest part of the country thinking that they would drive us down to where there was a big pile of rocks them there in that corner. Now that the pile of rocks turned out to be worth millions of dollars and everybody wants to get in here and get some of that money. Then the Osage began to die under mysterious
circumstances. One family in particular was profoundly affected, the family of this woman, Molly Burckhart, Molly was really and extraordinary woman. She was born in 1886 in one of those lodges that you could see in one of those pictures of the early settlements. Speaking Osage, practicing Osage traditions. She was forced at the age of 7 to be uprooted from her home by the US government to attend a Catholic boarding school. And then in a few decades because of the oil money she was speaking English and married to a white settler, Ernest Burkhart, who had come from Texas who had be a chauffeur and in many way she straddled not only two centuries but two civilizations. In 1921, she had an older sister named Anna
and Molly liked to entertain. She had people over that day. Anna left the house and was never seen again. Molly looked everywhere for her, her family looked for her. Her sister Anna was found in a ravine a week
later, she had been shot in the back of the head. It was first hint that Molly’s family had become
a prime target of the criminal conspiracy. Molly had a mother who lived in the house
with her and who within days grew mysteriously sick and within two months of Anna’s death, she stopped
breathing and died. There was evidence that she was poisoned. So within a span of two months, Molly, who you can see here on the right lost her sister Anna on the left and lost her mother. Molly had a younger sister who was so frightened,
Rita, she was out in the countryside living with her husband and maid and decided to move
closer to town near Molly where they thought it would be safer. They moved into this house and one night at
three in the morning Molly woke up and heard a loud explosion. She got up and she looked down in the direction of this house where her sister was all she could see was this large orange ball rising into the
sky. Somebody had planted a bomb under his sister’s
house, killing Rita, her husband, and a white maid, 18 years old who left behind two young children. Now it wasn’t just Molly’s family that was being targeted. Other Osage were being picked off one by one. There was a champion steer roper. An Osage steer roper. He received a call one night, he went outside came back, dropped dead frothing at the mouth, evidence later would indicate poison, probably strychnine. For those of you who read Agatha Christie mysteries you know that it is an awful poison that causes the body
to convulse, suffocating while you are still conscious unto you mercifully die. Several of those who tried to catch the killers, they too were killed. There was an attorney who was thrown off a
speeding train. He had been gathering evidence. where he told his wife if anything happened to him go there and when she went to the hiding spot and somebody had already gotten there and cleaned out the evidence and the money for her and her 10 children. There was an oil man friendly with the Osage who came to Washington, the nation’s capitol, trying to get federal authorities to take the case. He checked into a boarding house. He received a telegram from an associate in Oklahoma telling him to be careful, he carried with him a Bible and a pistol. He left the boarding house that evening and he was abducted, a burlap sack was wrapped around his head, his body was found the next day in a culvert, he was beaten to death and stabbed more than 20 times. The Washington Post would later report what the Osage already knew, in a headline it said ‘Conspiracy to kill rich Indians’. By 1923 more than two dozen
people had been murdered and would become known as the Osage Reign of Terror. One reporter wrote at the time members of the tribe had been shot in lonely pastures, bored by steel a they sat in their automobiles, poisoned to die slowly and dynamited as they slept in their homes. The reporter went on…where it will end no one knows… The world’s richest people per capita were
becoming the most murdered. Now despite the danger to their lives Molly valiantly as well as other Osage crusaded
for justice even though they had a bull’s-eye on their backs. Authorities frequently ignored these crimes
because the victims were Native Americans, because of prejudice, and also because there
was a great deal of corruption at that time. One of the things that surprised me was how
fragile our legal institutions were back in the 1920s. It was easy for the powerful to tilt the scales
of justice by corruption and paying off. Law enforcement was also poorly trained. Some of the records I found I drew out of
the national archives, private eyes who fill the void of national law enforcement back
then and local law enforcement. The problem with private eyes is that they
often had criminal backgrounds themselves and affordable only to the highest bidder. The boundaries between a good man and a bad
man were extremely porous. Many were covering up evidence rather than
revealing it. In 1923 the Osage tribal council finally issued a
resolution demanding that federal authorities uncontaminated by corruption step in, investigate these crimes and capture the killers. It was then the case was taken up by a rather obscure branch of the Justice Department in an organization then known as the Bureau of investigation,
later renamed as the Federal Bureau of investigation, the FBI. The Osage murder investigations will become one of the first of the FBI’s major homicide cases. In the summer of 1925 This man, Tom White, a field agent in Houston received an urgent summons from headquarters in Washington, DC, from the new boss-man, J Edgar Hoover. Saying he wanted to see him right away. Like Molly, Tom was someone who, in many ways, reflected the transformation
of the country at that time. He was born in a log cabin on the Texas frontier. He was a member of, essentially, a tribal community of law men. His father had been a local sheriff. When he grew up he saw criminals hung as a
boy. All his brothers were also in law enforcement
many of them became Texas Rangers, including Tom. He grew up when justice was often meted out by the barrel of a smoking gun. And then by the time of the Osage murders He had to go to Washington DC, wear a suit,
adopt modern techniques like finger printing, filing paperwork which he couldn’t stand. When he joined the Bureau in 1917, it was
a pretty rag-tag operation, had a smattering of field offices across the country, Agents were not authorized to carry guns and
they did not have the power to make arrests. If a bureau agent wanted to make an arrest they had
to go to the local sheriff or police officer. They had limited jurisdiction of crimes. One of the areas where they did have jurisdiction
was over American Indian reservations, federal lands. That is why this case fell to the Bureau. That is why it became one of the FBI’s first
major homicide cases at the time. When Tom White shows up at headquarters he doesn’t know why he has been summoned. Many of the old frontier lawmen were being purged from the ranks of the Bureau. The Bureau had just come out of its own oil
corruption scandal involving Teapot Dome. He could see many of the new kind of breed
of agents that Hoover was hiring, college boys who were said to type faster than they shot. Old-timers, like White, would refer to them as Boy Scouts. Many of the new agents were better educated
but had no experience actually with criminal investigations. So Hoover had kept a few of the old lawmen
including Tom White. Who were known as the cowboys. When he shows up he meets J Edgar Hoover. This picture was taken of Hoover just a few months before, doesn’t look like the Hoover we would come to recognize with the jowls, 29 years old the time. New to the Bureau. One thing you need to understand about Hoover
was that he hated tall agents. He was insecure about his stature. He used to keep a dias behind his desk and taller agents were scared to meet with him. If Hoover saw you were tall he might fire
you. (laughter) Tom White shows up and he stands 6′ 4″ and he is defiantly wearing a cowboy hat. Looming over the new boss-man. And Hoover begins to tell him about the Osage murder cases. The bureau had been working on the case for
two years and the results were disastrous. They failed to make a single arrest. They had also gotten an outlaw out of jail hoping to use him as an informant. A guy named Blacky. Blacky slipped away, robbed a bank and killed
the police officer. Blacky would meet his own unfortunate
fate when he was gunned down after escaping from jail. Hoover, believe it or not, would go on to
serve nearly five decades in power, was insecure about his position and he feared that a scandal
might and his dreams of building a bureaucratic bureaucratic empire and needs Tom White to take over the case to essentially save his bacon. White put together an undercover team recognizing
the dangers that existed. He recruits probably the only Native American Indian agent in the Bureau, assumed identities, one as a cattleman, one as an insurance salesman and sold actual policies according to the records. We do not know what happened to those policies. In many ways the case is less– this is one
of the undercover agents who went in, one of the cowboys, the picture was given to me by a descendent — and the
investigation was less of a criminal investigation as an espionage case. There were moles, there were double agents, possibly a triple agent. They did not know who the could trust in authority. The reports would quickly leak. They were being trailed and followed. They carried guns although they were not authorized
to, because of the danger. The case has many ins and outs and I think it is more powerful to read it in the context of the book but ultimately they followed the money, to see who was profiting for the murders
particularly for the murders of Molly’s family members. That led them to one of the most prominent
white settlers. What’s more, to a man who Molly and the Osage
knew well. What made this crime so sinister is that they
were deeply intimate crimes. To steal the Osage money they involved often
pretending to love the Osage while systematically over years plotting to kill them. When I struggled even after I worked on the
book after five years to put into words the level of deception and what must’ve been like
for Molly to realize it, perhaps Shakespeare’s phrase comes closest to it: Where wilt thou find a
cavern dark enough to mask thy monstrous visage? Seek none, conspiracy. Hide it with smiles and affability. After I visited the Osage Nation museum, and saw
this panoramic photograph the museum director went down to the basement and retrieved an image of the missing panel. And there, peering out from the corner very creepily with the man that the bureau had
identified, that prominent settler. He was the so-called “devil.” It is important to understand that the Osage
had removed that picture not to forget as so many Americans had but because they can’t
forget what had happened. Now, I want to say a quick word about the
structure of the book because the structure in a way — I had never organized material. It was told largely from the point of view
of three different individuals. The first is Molly Burkhart. This is a picture takien shortly before her
death. One of the documents I found in the National
Archives about her I think is particularly revealing. It was a document from the memory serves me
correctly, 1934. she died in 1936, two years before her death. It was her appeal of her “incompetency.” The courts have finally deemed her “competent.” Here was this woman in 1934 in the United
States of America finally granted access to control her own fortune, her own destiny,
and the rights of her full-fledged American citizenship. the second Chronicle is told largely from
the point of enough Tom White. You can see his transformation wearing his
fedora and suit with Hoover whose jowls are beginning to grow. (laughter) While this book has a great deal of evil,
it also has a great deal of goodness in both Molly who valiantly crusaded for justice and
Tom White who quietly and justly pursued the evidence. The final point of view chronicle is told from
the present from my perspective as a historian or reporter — whatever you want to call it
— and I do that to show what happened to the Osage today. This is a bar. Many of the old oil boom towns are now ghost towns. This is a shuttered bar in the town where Anna Brown was last seen before she disappeared. One of the most powerful things in my research
was I tracked down descendents in the present, both of the murderers and their victims. I tracked down this woman, Margie Burkhart,
the granddaughter of Molly Burkhart who told me what it was like to grow up without cousins and aunts. She took me to the graveyard where so many of her murdered relatives are buried. She gave me a sense of how this history is still
living today and how it still reverberates. Now, one of the reasons I told the story this
way was to show the elusiveness of trying to gather history, especially when there is
a criminal conspiracy. Often it is only over time that more evidence
and emerges and we begin to get a fuller portrait of what happened. One of the things that tried to show in my
section, based on a wealth of new information — information most of which was collected
at the National Archives branch in Fort Worth Texas — that there was a much deeper and
darker conspiracy that the Bureau never exposed. I will be happy to answer any questions you
have. (Applause)>>I think there is a mic somewhere.>>What a gift. I read your book. Have you learned anything significant things since
you wrote the book? Two, when I heard a presentation on the Lost City
my question was what book are you working on now? I will repeat the question.>>That was a long time ago. In order, I was just at Oklahoma. One of the most powerful things was to have
descendants of both the murderers and the victims come to the events. Descendants of Molly and of the devil. One of the defendants that I had not met before
came up to me and expressed remorse. Gave Margie a hug at the end. It was a reminder of how history still reverberates
today. Many of the descendants of the murderers and victims still live in the same neighborhoods. I have received e-mails from the Osage mentioning
new potential evidence but one of the things I try to show was that the number of deaths was far
larger than previously reported and there were scores, perhaps hundreds. Some of the evidence trickling in has furthered
confirmation of that. In terms of the next project — if anybody
has any ideas I promise a really nice steak or fish, or whatever you like, veggie, dinner. whatever you do.>>Hi. You mentioned that it was really difficult
to kind of find evidence because it comes out over time. what was the most challenging part of the research process for you?>>Good question. I don’t think that researchers or writers
get points for difficulty. The product is the product and the book is
the book. It can be easy or difficult to produce. This was, by far, the most challenging. It took me a lot longer, close to five years
from beginning to end and that was because I was dealing with people often living in the margins of society. I really wanted as best as I could to give
a sense of what their life was like. Molly Burkhart in the account was usually
only one sentence. She had no agency or back story, no emotion. What was it like for her? Part of my struggle was to try as best as
I could to glean that information and that came through going through archives. Out in Fort Worth I found a grand jury testimony,
incredibly helpful. I found letters between her and her husband
tracking down the descendants. I didn’t want just a cataloging of the dead. I wanted to try my best to record the voices
of the victims, and to identify — in some cases even new killers not previously identified
— i should add that for all my efforts I failed in many ways because of the breadth
of the number of conspirators. It was less of a story of who did it then
who didn’t. In many cases the perpetrators denied their
victims not only their lives but they also denied and the history. They denied them a proper accounting of what
had transpired in covering up crimes.>>I want to go back to one of the things
she said at the beginning which is a history of this country, prior to that situation. Where the Bureau of investigation was investigating. It didn’t exist. To Indians today that are abused in similar fashion, not necessarily a murder situation. I’m curious, what led to a Bureau of Investigation-investigating. How did that to get to them to say, let’s find out. Indians were murdered, I’m curious how that started>>Good question. So it was two-fold. Part of it was the bureau had limited jurisdiction. But they had jurisdiction over American Indian reservations the case fell to them. The bureau bungled it. In the records Hoover tried to dump the case. He did not want the embarrassment from that
and his commitment for justice was rather self-serving. Which gets to your question. After Blackie — one of the police officers
— was then afraid of the scandal and he needed to solve the case, felt pressure to solve the case. In the case of Tom White evidence suggests
he was a pretty decent individual and so he was motivated to try to get the evidence. Hoover closed the case which I tried to show
prematurely, to cement his reputation and build up his own mythology. he closed the case in many ways prematurely. Because of that many other murders of the
Osage, part of the reign of terror, did in fact go unsolved.>>Did you come across anything of interest
having to do with religion? Either traditional Indian religion or modern
religion as practiced by the killers?>>Yeah. One of the so-called “devils,” a mastermind,
professed to be deeply devout individual. In many ways he himself would present himself as a benefactor, often referred to himself as the “reverend,” a two-face quality. Molly was a very devout person and straddled the many ways, she was un-moored– she was trying to marry the two traditions. Her mom was one of the last Osage elders who practiced all the Osage traditions. She was raised Catholic because she went to
a boarding school as a young girl and she was Catholic but still practiced some of the
Osage traditions, she dressed in traditional clothing. One of the elements of these cases was, this
was a period Of the Osage being unmoored from any other traditions and there was a lot of
intermarrying.>>Thanks a lot for your presentation. I wonder if there was any effort at reparations
or reconciliation. The second question, as a writer and historian do you the experience outrage and sadness How do you accommodate this in the process
of preparing the book?>>I have not heard any effort of reparations. The Osage did have a suit that went on for
many years against the US government for the mismanagement of their trust funds. they did eventually receive a settlement of
300 million dollars, probably just a fraction of what they ultimately lost. In terms of the sadness it is hard not to
feel that when you research this. I began research for the book collecting photographs that I integrated into the book because I wanted this to be a work of documentation. Photographs became as essential as the text for me. I collected photographs of the victims and early
on I just had a few photographs but those grew over time. They were a reminder of what the book is about
in many ways. I don’t think you lose that. You hopefully harness that. You don’t want to be maudlin or write falsely. You do want to have some moral impetus in what
you doing I certainly felt that in this project. I don’t feel that in all of the things I write
about. But I certainly felt that. And when I met with the descendants I particularly felt that. I called up one descendant who had an unsolved case in her family and I gathered evidence, again, through the Archives in Fort Worth. Identifying the likely perpetrator based on
the wealth of circumstantial evidence. She began to cry on the phone. I felt quite badly and I said I am so sorry,
I wondered if I shouldn’t have told her this. She said no, no, we have been living with
this for so long. It gets to the point that this wasn’t that long ago. History still resonates today.>>Recently President Trump was interviewed
by a newscaster; the newscaster asked him why was he in bed with Putin, he was a murderer
and bad man. This is one time when I agreed with Trump. he said America is not so innocent. I wonder why it is hard for America to acknowledge her messes, they want to hide it. when people bring it out in the open they
deny it and don’t want to talk about it.>>I do think that in the case of a story
like this, it is important that we reckoned with history, the history of Native Americans. This clash between Native Americans and white
settlers. For lack of a better word is our original
sin from which the country was born. We cannot understand the country unless we
understand a case like this. These forces of played out. We can’t understand the emergence modern law enforcement, we can’t understand, in may ways, the emergence of a modern country. Molly and Tom White thrust together reflect
the change in this country. That is reflected in this case. There was an Osage who I interviewed not
long ago, after the book, who walked almost all the way from Oklahoma to North Dakota
during the Standing Rock demonstrations. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army, received
a Purple Heart in Afghanistan, wounded and in the knee, and yet he made this pilgrimage. He said he thought a lot about the Osage murders. And the cases are separated by nearly a century Some of the specifics are very different,
the Suee (sounds like) weren’t making money from oil they were trying to protect their natural environment But he said it was still the fundamental issue is the right of Native Americans to protect their sovereign land and the resources. We cannot understand things like Standing
Rock unless we also understand what took place back in the 1920s with the Osage. Thank you again so much for coming. (Applause)

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