In the early twenties the Osage Nation becomes rich on the oil buried beneath their land in Osage County, Oklahoma, and then white men begin marrying Osages and killing them and all their family members so they could run off with the cash. The Osage call it the Reign of Terror, those years between 1920 to 1926, although evidence shows that it probably started at least three years before and continued for some time afterward.
The subsequent investigation by a nascent FBI revealed that everyone was in on it, the coroners, the undertakers, the police, it was a conspiracy of silence all the way up to Congress, who in their ineffable insufferableness collude with these greedy, racist, murderous assholes by deeming the Osage unfit to manage their own money and naming some of the actual murderers as the Osages’ guardians. It takes Osage Mollie Burkhart until 1941 to get that decision overturned. How many Osage died during the Reign of Terror will never be known because so few deaths were investigated as murders at the time, but Grann estimates that there may have been more than 600 victims.
Just an awful story, a piece of one of the darkest parts of our history. But worth reading, if you have the stomach for it.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.