During the past weekend, we Osages and our many friends commemorated our history and way of life. We did this commemorating through a book signing of, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” by David Grann.
I had the pleasure of attending two events on our Osage Reservation. One was at the Waterbird Gallery and the other was at Roger Lloyd’s home in Pershing.
At the Waterbird Gallery in downtown Pawhuska, Danette Daniels served meat pies, fry bread, grape dumplings and blueberry pie to the many people who weathered the strong wind and rain storm to attend the book signing. The gallery sold 300 copies of the book and has ordered more.
As I listened to remarks about the book, those remarks seemed deep and personal. Those in attendance expressed unsettling feelings about the events that history has left for us to live with. It was such a complicated story to tell and especially difficult for Osages to read about – those in the tribe who were so viciously murdered.
However, it was Grann’s forensic material that he carefully uncovered, detailing the Osage murders, whether by a firing of a handheld weapon, poisonings or their homes being blown up with them in it, that was especially troubling for Osages to read.
The general agreement was that this narrative needed to be told in this manner. There are other books written on this subject but Grann’s intensive documentation on the murders was unprecedented and though it was hard for Osages to hear him speak about it they really appreciated Grann’s ability and painstaking research on giving details on the broader story of the murders.
It seems fitting that on this day in April that rain would fall and emphasize the importance of this history that happened almost a century ago. The setting for this series of events took place in the middle of the Osage Reservation. It brought Osages closer to home and seems to stress the grim facts of the Osage murders in a light that hopefully can bring understanding to help comfort why and how this could have possibly happened.
This book is another resource that will be important for our children, grandchildren and non-Osages to understand the complicated history of our people.
I find David Grann to be a caring and kind person and I personally appreciate his research that led him to reveal a deeper insight. David strives to allow the story to tell itself, as accurately as possible, letting the facts tell the story.
At his talk at the Waterbird Gallery, David said after he read my novel “A Pipe for February,” he called me and asked to meet him in Pawhuska. We spent four days touring the Osage Reservation, the places, people and discussing the oral history of the Osage. Remembering those days brought back good feelings of our time together.