The forced migrations had depleted their numbers. And by the 1920s, the Osage collectively had accumulated millions and millions of dollars. It was very easy for the powerful to buy the law, to tilt the scales of justice. And nobody at first knows who was responsible for the murder. It could also explain why 77 percent of all killings last year involved a gun more than in any previous year. In 1870, the Osage-expelled from their lodges, their graves plundered-agreed to sell their Kansas lands to settlers for $1.25 an acre. Osage would later refer to this as a diaspora. Driven from their lands in Kansas, the Osage had bought a swath of northeast Oklahoma in the early 1870s. And yet members of the United States Congress would sit in these mahogany-paneled committee rooms and literally debate as if the nation's security was at stake, scapegoating the Osage about their wealth. Her body seemed to wither and become more insubstantial each day. GRANN: Well, in some ways, he was looking for someone like himself who - he had never been an investigator himself, had never been a criminal detective. how many osage murders might there possibly have been? " Some Osage used their royalties to send their children to private schools; others bought fancy cars, clothes and jewelry, and traveled in Europe; and newspapers across the country covered their activities. . Copyright 2017 NPR. DAVIES: And is the population of the Osage Nation about what it was or more or less? Courts do not generally entertain claims of innocence once the defendant is dead. He has to wear a suit and a fedora where he had once ridden on a horse back with a 10-gallon hat. So within just two months, Mollie Burkhart had lost her sister to a gunshot, her mother to poisoning. The power structure was able to buy off lawmen. Grann's new book is both an absorbing murder mystery as J. Edgar Hoover's FBI takes on its first murder investigation and also a dark journey into the hard-edged racism that allowed whites to view Native Americans as subhumans who ought to be relieved of their newly acquired wealth. But with the arrest of William K. Hale it all stopped. These were men who were kind of struggling to adapt to the new bureau to adapt to new scientific forms of detection which were slowly emerging such as fingerprinting, handwriting analysis. It has gone on to become an award-winning book, and is reportedly being adapted in a movie directed by Martin Scorsese. The Osage were shot and poisoned in staggering numbers. GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. These were crimes committed by people who the victims trusted, many cases thought they loved, and it involved a level of betrayal, an almost Shakespearean level of dishonesty of hiding your face, hiding the conspiracy. One attorney with information on the case was thrown off a speeding train, while the body of Barney McBride, a wealthy white oilman who agreed to go to Washington, D.C., to ask federal authorities to investigate the murders, was found stripped, beaten and stabbed more than 20 times in a Maryland culvert in what the Washington Post called the most brutal in crime annals in the District., Osage Indians in Washington D.C., with President Coolidge. Boy Scouts - local Boy Scouts took up the search. These three books deal with the absolutely despicable history of the Osage Indians being cheated out of their oil rights in the 1920s in Oklahoma. There are no statistics about how many American-Indian agents were in the bureau at the time, but I suspect he was the only one.  Unable to find the killer, local authorities ruled her death as accidental because of alcohol poisoning and put the case aside. It wasnt just Mollies family that was being methodically killed on Oklahomas Osage Nation Reservation in the early 1920s. He said that Hale had promised him five hundred dollars and a new car for killing Roan. In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson hosted a delegation of Osage chiefs who had . Yeah. However, people from different countries heard about their fortune, they started to live a miserable life. DAVIES: So Hoover personally selects this former Texas Ranger Tom White to lead the investigation into the Osage murders, and White assembles an interesting team to help him. They had to pay for justice.. So he puts together an undercover team of these cowboys. It was collectively controlled by the Osage. He had a particular profile of the kind of man he wanted to be an agent for the Bureau of Investigation. "The Osage Murders: Oil Wealth, Betrayal and the FBIs First Big Case." And then it turned out that lo and behold, this land was sitting upon some of the largest deposits of oil then in the United States. His real name was William Hale, and by all accounts he had no scruples when it came to his desire to acquire riches and power. They would refer to him as kind of Boy Scouts, who looked - had very clean-cut images and were very presentable. how many osage murders might there possibly have been? DAVIES: So the guy running who had just taken over the bureau at the time was none other than J. Edgar Hoover. Both Grammer and Kirby were killed before they could testify.  In 1995, the writer Robert Allen Warrior wrote about walking through an Osage cemetery and seeing "the inordinate number of young people who died during that time. He didn't like agents who were too tall because he didn't want them to overshadow him. Mollie and Ernest Burkhart inherited all of the headrights from her family. On May 27, 1921, the partially decomposed body of a 25-year-old Osage woman named Anna Brown was discovered in a ravine in Osage County, Oklahoma, dead from a bullet to the back of the head. He never arrived in Osage County - disappeared. DAVIES: Yeah. The systematic embezzlementreferred to as the Indian business by some white settlers on the Osage reservationwasnt lucrative enough for some, however. The settlement also strengthened management of the tribe's trust assets and improved communications between the Department of Interior and the tribe. Mollie Burkhart (right) with sisters Anna (center) and Minnie (left). DAVIES: Mollie Burkhart and relatives of the other victims would turn to private investigators. 25. Margie Burkhart, who is the granddaughter, is a wonderful woman and told me about the crimes, told me about what it was like growing up without any cousins and aunts and uncles because so many members had been murdered, told me about what it was like for her father who had grown up in this house as a little kid where his mother was a victim and his father was the killer. By . Although Walton later pardoned Davis, the investigation of Bigheart and Vaughan was never completed. GRANN: And the tragedy and shocking to Tom White was that it ended in a hung jury, and evidence later revealed that there had been a elaborate conspiracy to obstruct justice including buying a juror. Vaughan complied, and the two men met that night. GRANN: Certainly. Between 1921 and 1926, at least 24 members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma were brutally murdered. Somebody had planted a bomb under the house, killing everyone in it, including Mollie's sister Rita, including her - Rita's husband and a white servant who lived in the house. Walton assigned Herman Fox Davis to the investigation. They were driven off their lands. In Killers of the Flower Moon, Grann picks up the case and reveals the even wider conspiracy in the Osage murders, which may have numbered in the hundreds. As part of the process of preparing Oklahoma for statehood, the federal government allotted 657 acres (266ha) to each Osage on the tribal rolls in 1907; thereafter, they and their legal heirs, whether Osage or not, had "headrights" to royalties in oil production, based on their allotments of lands. Shortly after the assignment, Davis was convicted of bribery. In 1871 there were about 3,679 full-blooded Osage and 280 mixed-bloods and intermarried citizens. Subsequently, Ramsey changed his story, claiming that the actual killer was Curly Johnson. Follow the Osage Nation on Facebook Follow the Osage Nation on Instagram Follow the Osage Nation on LinkedInFollow the Osage Nation on Twitter Subscribe to the Osage Nation on Youtube, Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. how many osage murders might there possibly have been?homelux mosaic tiles By In eberhardt reisen insolvenzverfahren Posted June 11, 2022 facts about aries woman In 1925, to prevent another Reign of Terror, the United States Congress passed a law prohibiting non-Osages from inheriting headrights of tribal members possessing more than one-half Osage blood. So one of the things that happened back then because - you know, we think of ourself as a country of laws, but these institutions back in the '20s in the United States were very fragile. So you had a local lawman. The tribe appealed for help directly to the relatively new Bureau of Investigation (which would be renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935). Burkhart and Ramsey also received life sentences, and both were also paroled in 1947. And they begin to also realize that there is a complicity of silence. Then Ramsey shot Roan in the head. There was a great deal of both envy and prejudice and eventually outrage. It had not yet gotten much national coverage. He's then arrested. The incentives for criminality were overwhelming; such guardians often maneuvered legally to steal Osage land, their headrights or royalties; others were suspected of murdering their charges to gain the headrights. The Osage were being shot and poisoned in staggering numbers. And The Washington Post later reported what had become increasingly evident, which was that - there was a conspiracy to kill rich Indians - was the title of their article. They could deal with escaped federal prisoners, smutty books crossing state lines. DAVIES: So plenty of jury tampering and all. GRANN: Yeah. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, Osage Nation#Natural resources and headrights, MARGO JEFFERSON, "BOOKS OF THE TIMES; Digging Up a Tale of Terror Among the Osages", "A Historic Settlement with the Osage Tribe of Oklahoma". DAVIES: So each of the Osage families that owned a plot of land had what was called a headright, which means what? DAVIES: Now, you used the word victims - plural. . Document in the "HaleRamsey Murder Case", from the Oklahoman Collection at the Oklahoma Historical Society Photo Archives. Burkhart was eventually pardoned by Oklahoma Governor Henry Bellmon in 1965. DAVIES: There's a part of the story that's not so well-known of an initial effort. GRANN: So - yeah.  Ernest Burkhart's attempt to kill his wife failed. Many of the old traditions of the Osage were disappearing at this period, and there was a great deal of intermarriage. DAVIES: And, you know, when you speak to these surviving members of the Osage Nation and you see the pain that they still feel generations later from this - the series of crimes, and when you think about how many white people were complicit in it, it makes me think there's another book to be done about descendants of white people and what stories their grandparents might have told them because surely some told stories and surely some felt some guilt about it. Ernest Burkhart: The Background. He wanted to remake the FBI. This is FRESH AIR. On May 27, 1921, local hunters discovered the decomposing body of 36-year-old Anna Brown in a remote ravine of Osage County. In some cases lawmen were directly complicit or turned a blind eye, Grann says. The governor quickly pardons him, and then he goes and commits an unrelated murder. [d][e] There, doctors suspected that he had ingested poisoned whiskey. 8. Give us a sense of what else was going on. That's exactly right. GRANN: So yeah - so Barney McBride was an oilman in the area, a white man. He was sometimes called "Will". The next morning, he was found in a covert in Maryland. Tell us about that. First moved to a reservation in Kansas, the Osage in 1870 sold their Kansas lands for $1.25 an acre to settlers and were driven to land in northeastern Oklahoma that, until 1866, had belonged to the Cherokee. He also alerted one of the FBI agents. . Like many tribes, the Osage had been forced to allow their lands to be allotted to individual tribal members. Many Osage moved to California. The courts appointed the guardians from local white lawyers or businessmen. So the Osage purchased this land. More than two dozen members of the Osage tribe had been shot,. DAVIES: There was an attorney, local attorney named W. W. Vaughn, a man with 10 kids, looks into things, thinks he has some evidence that might be helpful GRANN: Yeah, so W. W. Vaughn was a local white attorney. And there was a complicity to these killings because they involved not only the perpetrators. And for someone like Mollie Burkhart to have to reckon when she begins to discover that the very people she knew enough and trusted were the very people who were targeting her family. how many osage murders might there possibly have been? And she had to sit through the trials and listen to the evidence presented and learn the secrets of her husband, that the secrets of this murder were right inside her house. And I think that's certainly true when you visit Osage Nation, you meet with the Osage and you see what a remarkable place it is and the strength of its government institutions. In 2011, the U.S. government settled with the Osage for $380 million. Mollie recovered from the poison she had already consumed and (after the trials) divorced Ernest. When they were herded south onto their parcel of Oklahoma land, no one had the slightest idea that the place floated on an ocean of liquid gold--oil. Somebody put a bag over his head. And gradually, a lot of the oil was depleted. Ironically, Tom White, the leading FBI agent on the Osage murders, was appointed Leavenworth's new warden when Hale arrived to serve his sentence. The same problems that infected local enforcement were still plaguing the bureau where you had criminals who were often investigators. DAVIES: David Grann, thank you so much for speaking with us. What are we talking about? One by one, Mollie Burkharts family turned up dead. DAVE DAVIES, BYLINE: Well, David Grann, welcome to FRESH AIR. You tell some fascinating stories about that. "It could come down to . He recruits a man who once sold insurance and now will sell insurance as his fake identity when he's in Osage County. And maybe most heartbreaking is that this involved a man who had become very close to even married Osage women and had betrayed those relationships. Now, you have to remember this in the 1920s, and the period of Great Gatsby. They involve neighbors who would never speak out, reporters who would not dig into the crimes. First, choose a theme and. DAVIES: Mollie is married to a guy named Ernest Burkhart.  Morrison testified that, after meeting Brown earlier at her sister Mollie's home, he and Burkhart took a heavily intoxicated Brown to Three Mile Creek, where Morrison shot and killed her.. There are some real characters among them. And a big question arose was regardless of the evidence, would a jury convict a white man for murdering an American-Indian? . Our guest David Grann's new book tells the story of one of the biggest serial murder cases in American history and one of the most forgotten. People began to look for him. Because of the large number of leads and the perception that the police were corrupt, White decided he would be the public face of the investigation while most of the agents would work undercover. They are rich people with a reservoir of oil and other minerals in their homeland. It was then Indian Territory. Accuracy and availability may vary. They had become the wealthiest people per capita in the world. She was born in the 1880s, growing up in a lodge, practicing Osage tradition, speaking Osage. The attorney's name is given as W.W. Vaughan in some sources (e.g. There was a great deal of lawlessness. And she had pulled out a box of documents, and she told me about the death of her grandfather who had been run over, who had been poisoned. It began in the early 1920s, a time that should have been a prosperous one. In the 1920s an oil boom brought millions in profits to the Osage Nation, but white guardians assigned to guard the Native Americans' wealth brought abuse, theft and murder instead. I'm coming back. And eventually a very obscure branch of the Justice Department which was then known as the Bureau of Investigations, which would later be renamed the FBI, take up the case. "The Reign of Terror." [c] By that time, Lizzie had headrights for herself and had inherited the headrights from her late husband and two daughters. And this team then is sent in undercover, and, of course, they do not represent the team the kind of agents that Hoover was touting as college boys. This week I'm bringing you another story about a family that now has many members, but back in 1887 there was only one in Pawhuska and his name was Fred Drummond. And evidence later surfaced that she had been poisoned. (Credit: David Grann).  Along with tens of thousands of oil workers, the oil boom attracted many white opportunists to Osage County; as the writer Robert Allen Warrior characterizes them, some were entrepreneurial, while others were criminal, seeking to separate the Osage from their wealth by murder if necessary. And they imposed restrictions. The press referred to them as, quote, unquote, "the red millionaires and the plutocratic Osage." [h], In the case of the Smith murders, Ernest was soon convinced that even his wife's money and his uncle's political influence could not save him. So you get a sense just of the quality of the legal establishment who is supposed to be solving these crimes. On February 6, 1923, Henry Roan, another cousin of Brown's (also known as Henry Roan Horse), was found in his car on the Osage Reservation, dead from a shot in the head. What you begin to realize, the deeper you dig, is that this was not a crime about who did it as much as who didn't do it - that there was a culture of killing taking place during this period and that there were scores if not hundreds of murders. ", "Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese to Reteam on 'Killers of the Flower Moon', "Largely Forgotten Osage Murders Reveal A Conspiracy Against Wealthy Native Americans: Interview with David Grann", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Osage_Indian_murders&oldid=1131818170, Anti-indigenous racism in the United States, Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0, "The Osage Indian Murders", a dramatization of the case first broadcast on August 3, 1935, was the third episode of the. Theyre scalping our souls out here, complained one exasperated Osage. What was the state of federal law enforcement in the day? he said he needed to see him right away. And so it was very easy to slip someone a poison. Mollie Burkhart heard it. "The Osage Murders" is a historical documentary focusing on the events that occurred on the Osage reservation in the 1920s. . Hale and Ramsey were later convicted of Roans murder, and Burkhart accepted a plea deal for the murder of Smith. At one point Hoover wanted to get out of it and turn it back to the state, but after the scandal he didnt have a choice., Tom White and Hoover. He was abducted. Ernest said that he had used a person named Henry Grammer as a go-between to hire a professional criminal named Asa "Ace" Kirby to perform the killings. Hes very insecure in his career at the time, Grann says. GRANN: Well, by now, this was known as the Osage reign of terror. how many osage murders might there possibly have been? HISTORY reviews and updates its content regularly to ensure it is complete and accurate. history.. It was said at the time whereas as one American might own a car, each Osage owned 11 cars. GRANN: Yeah. It's called "Killers Of The Flower Moon." how many osage murders might there possibly have been?splash cafe clam chowder recipe. how many osage murders might there possibly have been? He grew up at a time and became a lawman at a time when justice was often meted out by the barrel of a gun. how many osage murders might there possibly have been? No products in the cart. She had two children with him, and she learned that he was one of the many willing executioners. The second chronicle is told from the perspective of one of the investigators. Vaughan boarded a train that night to return to Pawhuska, but turned up missing the next morning when the Pullman porter went to awaken him; his berth on the train had not been used. Her sister Anna had been discovered in a ravine in May 1921 with a bullet wound to the back of her head. And so that was one of the problems the bureau had.  Over a month later, on March 10, 1923, a bomb destroyed the Fairfax residence of Anna's sister Rita Smith, killing Rita and her servant, Nettie Brookshire. Here was a population being systematically murdered one by one. Grann's book may soon become a film. Howell, Melissa. National Museum of the American Indian. Anna was known to be a heavy drinker. An oil well in Osage County, Oklahoma, home to the Osage Nation. And reporters would go out and describe how they lived in these terra-cotta mansions, how they had chauffeured cars, how they had servants, some of whom were white. And he said, if you speak to the Osage, will you please tell them that for me? What are their methods? And by the 1920s, the Osage collectively had accumulated millions and millions of dollars. Her children inherited all of her estate. Then local whites began targeting the tribe. And if you're just joining us, we're speaking with David Grann. But ultimately their devious activity would catch up with them. Tell us a bit about her. And one day in 1921, her sister, Anna Brown, disappears, and Mollie looks everywhere for her, searching along the prairie. The bodies would lay unclaimed and unmourned on the prairies, sometimes for weeks.. She's one of the Osage elders, and I got to her house. In 1815 there were twelve thousand. The Osage - he was a friend of the Osage. Later investigations revealed that the bomb contained 5 US gallons (19L) of nitroglycerin.. In his investigation, McAuliffe found that the BOI believed that the murders of several Osage women "had been committed or ordered by their husbands. They once controlled much of the Midwest of the country. Let's get back to the interview FRESH AIR contributor Dave Davies recorded with David Grann, author of a new book about one of the biggest serial murder cases in American history. GRANN: Yeah. The Osage Murders and the Birth of the F.B.I.