An Era Without Social Justice

The genocide of Native Americans by Euro-Americans from 1492 to about 1890 remains an atrocious and shameful episode in American history. About the time this reviewer believes this era, one utterly devoid of social justice, had ended, I am proven wrong. Mistreatment of original Americans continued long after Wounded Knee.

Killers of the Flower Moon, The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann details a series of murders of wealthy Osage tribal members in the 1920s. The discovery of oil beneath tribal lands brought the Osage not only enormous wealth, but targeted them for swindle and murder.

Grann details how Osage victims disappeared. Some were shot point-blank in the head. A man was thrown from a train. A couple was burned to death in their own beds. A whistle blower was murdered on his first night in Washington D. C. An unknown number were poisoned. Investigators hired by the Osage were murdered. Many Osage lost not only their lives but fortunes as well due to the schemes of white relatives.

During this carnage, law enforcement turned a blind eye. The Osage County Sheriff was fighting corruption charges and had little inclination to investigate the murder of Indians (incidentally, the sheriff was convicted, then re-elected). Initial investigations by the FBI proved incompetent.

Stung by the Teapot Dome scandal, an exasperated J. Edgar Hoover assigned Special Agent Tom White, a former Texas Ranger to the case. White proved to be a dogged investigator who brought two killers to justice. Both were convicted, sentenced to life, then paroled.

The known murders of Osage numbers thirty-six, but Grann, a meticulous researcher, uncovers more evidence of wrong doing. Osage family lore and long-overlooked records suggest there may have been more than one hundred people killed during this period they call the Reign of Terror.

Grann’s book is an excellent resource for readers who demand the cultural record be accurately informed.

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