Jesse Plemons and Lily Gladstone have been cast in lead roles for Martin Scorsese‘s Killers of the Flower Moon. Based on the novel by David Grann, this is a true story about the FBI investigation into the Osage murders that occurred in the 20s known as the Reign of Terror. The film also stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro. According to Entertainment Weekly, production will begin this spring in Osage County in Oklahoma.

Gladstone will play Mollie Burkhart, an Osage married to Ernest Burkhart (DiCaprio), who is the nephew of a powerful local rancher (De Niro). Mollie’s sister is found dead and that leads to an investigation into her murder and the murder of others. Plemons will play the lead FBI agent Tom White in the investigation. 


The Osage Nation sits on one of the largest oil finds in history. Oil companies bombarded Osage County and Osage families with surface and mineral rights. The oil industry wanted to capitalize on the oil, making the Osage Nation one of the richest tribes in the US. There was also an increase in interracial marriages, like Mollie’s marriage to Ernest. At the time there was no regulation on tribal members’ estates, so if something happened to an Osage member, their spouse and children would inherit their land and money. That’s when Osage members began to die under mysterious circumstances. 

After 24 deaths, the FBI took up the investigation. A young J. Edgar Hoover asked White to recruit a team of investigators that also including Native agents who went undercover. They uncovered some of the murders, not all of them. The Mollie Burkhart story is tragic as most of her family died because of greed. And the culprits were her own husband and his uncle. There are several families with little Osage ancestry that have large plots of land in Osage County. One can only speculate how they got their fortune. 


I am a member of the Osage Nation. My family has over 300 acres of land near Keystone Lake. The oil companies drilled for oil on our land and those rigs are gone. Now the land is practically untouched. Fortunately, our family survived the Reign of Terror, but we could have easily been a target. My mother tells tales of my great aunt’s large house and the lavish trips to Vegas that my grandfather took. I’ve heard stories of other families who would give away fine China to the less fortunate and then go buy a brand new set … just because they could. Since the Reign of Terror, policies were put in place so that no Osage family could ever be taken advantage of again. 

Killers of the Flower Moon will feature authentic Osage lands, language, clothing, and people. It is an exciting time to be Osage even if the story is devastating. You can watch Killers of the Flower Moon later this year on Apple TV.




Noetta Harjo
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