Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Killers of the Flower Moon Reviewed

When Life For The Osage Should Have Become Easier

moon in black sky
Perhaps The Flower Moon (image courtesy of Pixabay.com)
It isn't often that I read a non-fiction book but this was an exception so, today I will be reviewing the book Killers Of The Flower Moon by David Grann. It would be difficult to say that I enjoyed this book because the subject matter is more than just a little disturbing; however, I will say instead that I found it fascinating and heartbreaking. 

This book tells about the Osage Indians and the disturbing events that occurred on their reservation in Oklahoma during the 1920s. One might think that by this time the atrocities toward the Indians of North America would have been over. One might be mistaken. Yes, it was after the Indian Wars. Yes, it was after the tribes had been herded off to reservations like a bunch of cattle. Unfortunately, even in the 20th century many white men were not finished with their inhumanity towards the native peoples of the North American continent, in this case the Osage Indians. 

Mr. Grann does a remarkable job of detailing these horrible acts against the tribe. There were greedy people taking unfair advantage and there were murders of the Osage people for one reason: money. You see, it just so happened that the reservation that was created for the Osage tribe turned out to be more than just a rocky barren place for them to eek a living on. There was oil under those rocks! Lots of oil! 

Typically in the history of the US if there was something of value that was found on an Indian Reservation our government would find a way to take it away from them. An instance would be the gold that was found in the Black Hills. At the time of that discovery the Black Hills was a part of the Sioux reservations. In order to get that precious land back, the government came up with an allotment system which forced the Indians to become land owners but there was a twist. In the guise of being fair, there would be a few parcels of land that would be alloted to non-indians (whites). Should we be surprised that the plots of land that had the gold on them would be the ones that were allotted to non-indians?

The allotment system had been dismissed by the government for quite a long time in the early 20th century. There was a push to get the "heathens" to better assimilate into the white culture and it finally became the Osage Indians turn to get serious about leaving their old ways. What the government did not know but the Osage did was that there was oil on their land. In a rather clever set of negotiations between the government and the tribe, a deal was struck. The Osage would agree to the allotment system but (and this is a huge BUT) they wanted the sole rights to the minerals on the land. And that my friends is where the Osage pulled one over on the men who thought they were pulling one over on them. After the agreement was signed, the Osage announced the discovery of oil. It would appear that the Osage had won!

Suddenly, the Osage people were rich, filthy rich! They built mansions, they drove brand new automobiles, they dressed in fine clothing and they hired servants. In the eyes of many white men this was absolutely unacceptable! So, it was declared that the Indians were not smart enough to handle their own money. The whites couldn't take the oil rich land away but they could control the money and keep a lot of it for themselves. It gets worse!

Mr. Grann walks us through the events of a time known as The Reign of Terror by the Osage. He tells of the deceit and wicked ways that many followed to get that money from the Osage people. Some married an Osage in order to get their grimy hands on the oil money. Some, even systematically ended the lives of the Osage so that the division of the monies grew as there were less to receive it.

This is not a pretty story. It is a factual one and a heartbreaking one but it is not pretty. If you like to read about real history, this might be a book that you will find fascinating. It is often times difficult to read about the dark side of humanity; however, it can also be enlightening. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate, Ebay (EPN) and/or Esty (Awin) Affiliate, I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


  1. Excellent book review, Beverly. I grew up in the western part of New York State where many of the place names (towns, lakes, rivers, etc.) were named after the Native Americans who had lived in the region before the so-called 'white' man came to America. I was even born in Canandaigua, NY,which is derived from the Native American word "Kanandarque", which means "chosen spot". It was the site of the principal village of the Seneca Indians and is the legendary birthplace of these "People of the Hills" Thus, I have always felt a kinship to these (and all) Native Americans and been very proud to have been from Cananadaigua. The atrocities visited upon this country's NATIVE Americans, and the unfairness of treatment has bothered me all my life. I will be reading this book, but I wouldn't be surprised if it makes me angry! With your ancestral background, I'm sure you feel the same way! Thank you for bringing this book to my attention.

    1. It will most assuredly make you angry, Miss Elf. It certainly made me angry. There were times as I sat and read that I just shook my head in disgust, other times I would look at my husband and say these men were just evil, pure evil.

  2. I can already tell that this would be a very difficult book to read. A true example of how being the best or the smartest doesn't always beat being the meanest. Even if the people sitting at the negotiation table are fair-minded, there are always evil men and women willing to do anything in order to take what you have, what you earned. You did an excellent job (of course) of summing it up with this quote: "It is often times difficult to read about the dark side of humanity; however, it can also be enlightening." So applicable to so many events in history!

  3. An excellent review, Beverly. I don't think I would be able to read this any time soon. I already have enough anger after a meeting I went to last night that spelled out what the government of my own state -- the once Golden State -- is doing to turn California into a third world country. They would even have us secede from the Union if they could keep their federal handouts. Once again the elites are trying to make laws they exempt themselves from. If they get their way, even our Medicare will be useless here.

  4. Thank you for this review. I am adding it to my reading list. I have read true stories by Native American women and some of the stories are so heart-breaking. This sounds like one. But it also sounds like a piece of history that should be known and not forgotten.

  5. Living just across the border from Oklahoma, I'm sure this story isn't unique in Native American history. Nearly a century later, I can imagine this type of incident happening today.

  6. you did well to get through it - and you're right about the dark side of humanity of course - thanks for bringing this one to our attention


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