Killers of the Flower Moon

History tells a lot of stories that are fascinating, yet illustrate the utter cruelty of our fellow human beings.

A new book receiving a lot of attention falls squarely into this category.  Its title is Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann.  I haven’t read it myself.  (I may not have the courage to.)  But I mention it because it may be the most important story you’ve never heard about.

Basically, the Osage Indians had been shunted aside onto land in Oklahoma that turned out to contain huge oil deposits.  This made them by some estimates the wealthiest people per capita in the world.  Then they started dying.

The description on calls this “a twisting, haunting true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.” All indications are the tribe was targeted by jealous whites who both wanted their wealth and believed no Native America was worthy of such bounty.  Local authorities were corrupt, and the murderers were clever, frequently using poisons that were beyond the capabilities of the region’s law enforcement to identify, even if they had wanted to.

As I said, I haven’t read this myself; this is what I’ve gleaned from the reviews.  I would like to think dogged detective work by the surviving members and the FBI was able to bring justice to the victims.  But I doubt it — today the tribe’s poverty rate is about 20 percent, and none of the reviews mention heroes.  At least the story is coming to light — the film rights have been sold for $5 million.

It’s really a compelling mystery.  Unfortunately, it’s all true.

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