Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Once upon a time, the Osage tribe was threatened, massacred, and leveraged out of their own land. They invested the pittance they were paid and invested in more, different and apparently worthless lands in Indian Territory in what is now northeastern Oklahoma, near the end point of the Trail of Tears, buying it and settling in during the 1870’s.
Then somebody struck oil.
And, as one newspaper reporter wrote in 1923, “The Osage Indians are becoming so rich that something will have to be done about it.”
Killers of the Flower Moon is the pull-you-along recounting of the 1920’s “Reign of Terror” in Oklahoma oil country that saw dozens of Osage murdered for their oil headrights, their “underground reservation.” The U.S. government decreed that American Indians were automatically incompetent and therefore incapable of managing their own property, appointing white (naturally) guardians and creating an irresistible opportunity for whites to murder and steal with impunity.
Simultaneously, the book also tells the story of the nascent FBI, its creation under J. Edgar Hoover, and the “cowboy” lawmen who were determined to bring killers to justice – or some kind of justice, anyway.
This is non-fiction that reads like a mystery novel, highly readable and compelling. This story of a shameful part of American history is not to be missed and should be required reading in our schools.
Bookshelves: american-history, native-american-history, bigots-gonna-bigot, journalistic, social-commentary, true-crime, non-fiction
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