What was once nearly impossible to get, has now been made public. Throughout November, the National Archives at Fort Worth, Texas is highlighting its recently digitized collection of case files from the Osage Reign of Terror.
The release of Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” is causing organizations and institutions far and wide to share information related to the Osage.
While writing the award-winning book of the same name, David Grann conducted a lot of his research at the NAFW. Federal court and Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Osage Agency Records and collections from the U.S. Attorney’s Office were also used in his research.
According to NAFW staff, this information has been accessible through visits to the archives but making it available through digitization is new.
One of those records is a list of Osage guardians and administrators’ addresses from 1919 to 1924. The 190-page document is available for download here and includes, “handwritten records of the names of guardians of minor and incompetent Osage Indians. The information given for each guardian includes the city of residence and the names and roll numbers of each ward.”
These are records that are currently sealed in Osage County and require a judge’s signature to receive. However, since these archives are held in Texas, those limitations do not apply – especially since they are under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
In Chapter 26 of his book, Grann describes finding what he refers to as a tattered, fabric-colored book.
“In one of the boxes was a tattered, fabric-covered logbook from the Office of Indian Affairs cataloging the names of guardians during the Reign of Terror. Written out by hand, the logbook included the name of each guardian and, underneath, a list of his Osage wards. If a ward passed away while under guardianship, a single word was usually scrawled by his or her name: ‘Dead.’”
Other files NAFW is highlighting on their Facebook page include information about William K. Hale’s indictment and case file, which can be found here.
NAFW also included a handwritten letter Mollie Burkhart wrote to Ernest while he was in jail awaiting trial.
The NAFW is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at (817) 551-2051.