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Murder, theft, poisonings, investigations, riches gained, stolen, and lost: this sounds like the plot of a typical thriller novel. However, all of these events actually happened during the early part of the 20th century in Osage Indian territory.
In his nonfiction book Killers of the Flower Moon (Doubleday, 2017), David Grann recounts the grim events that took place from approximately 1921 to 1926, when at least 24 murders (scholars believe many more people were killed) occurred on the Osage reservation in Oklahoma.
Through interviews and exhaustive, detailed research, Grann tells the story of how the Osage Indians were forced to resettle in the 1870s in Oklahoma, where it was later discovered that their land had some of the richest oil deposits in the United States. Anyone prospecting there had to pay royalties to the Osage, which resulted in their receiving millions of dollars. For a time, they were considered the richest people per capita in the world.
When members of the tribe were suspiciously murdered in the 1920s, the relatively new FBI, led by 29-year-old director J. Edgar Hoover, began an investigation into what turned out to be one of the country’s deadliest conspiracies. Grann’s account of the investigation makes for a fascinating reading experience.