Was the Reign of Terror Justified? the Osage Murders Unveiled

Exclusively available on PapersOwl
Updated: Aug 08, 2023
Cite this
Date added
Pages:  3
Order Original Essay

How it works

Nature’s Metaphor: The Tragic Parallel of the Osage and the Flower-Killing Moon

On the first page of Chapter 1, ‘The Vanishing,’ in Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, author David Gann explains the story behind the title of the book. “In April, millions of tiny flowers spread over the blackjack hills and vast prairies in the Osage territory of Oklahoma. There are Johnny-jump-ups and spring beauties and little bluets. The Osage writer John Joseph Mathews observed that the galaxy of petals makes it look as if the ‘gods had left confetti.

Need a custom essay on the same topic?
Give us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll deliver the highest-quality essay!
Order now

’ In May, when coyotes howl beneath an unnervingly large moon, taller plants, such as spiderworts and black-eyed Susans, begin to creep over the tinier blooms, stealing their light and water. The necks of the smaller flowers break, and their petals flutter away, and before long, they are buried underground. This is why the Osage Indians refer to May as the time of the flower-killing moon.” The story of the taller plants overgrowing and choking off the light and water of the smaller spring flowers and eventually killing them at the time of the flower-killing moon is a metaphor for how the Osage Indians were overrun, victimized, and killed by people who swarmed over their land in ruthless pursuit of power and wealth.

Why Was the Reign of Terror Justified? Family Ties and Betrayals in the Osage Tragedy

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI is about the Reign of Terror in the Osage Tribe. This occurred throughout a five-year period of chaos and the butchering of the members from approximately 1921-1926. Prominent white members of the community conspired to murder their Osage neighbors, including men, women, and children, during the reign of terror. This was no ordinary massacre but a series of organized killings that took place in Osage County, Oklahoma. Normally there is one major theme that runs throughout a book, but that was not the case for this one. There were several major key themes throughout Killers of the Flower Moon, including family, organizational power, and greed.

In David Grann’s book Killer of the Flower Moon, Family is one of the major themes. Grann talks about Mollie and the loss of her two sisters during the Osage Reign of Terror. Her husband, Ernest, turns out to be the one who was helping his uncle plan the murders of multiple participants of the tribe to get headlights to the land. Even after Ernest confesses, Mollie tries to maintain the look of their marriage because she’s nevertheless loyal to the man she has a toddler with. When his uncle convinces him to take back his confession, Ernest does from loyalty to his domineering relative. It’s only the loss of the life of his daughter that prompts him to confess to the complete thing. Family is shown to be both desirable and awful in the book. Sometimes they’re humans who help you; in other instances, they’re people who literally poison you.

The FBI’s Rise to Power Amidst the Osage Crisis

Organizational strength is another theme discussed throughout the book. The FBI in the Twenties was once a vulnerable agency that used to be an agency that did not have congressional approval. As part of its upward shove to relevance was the Osage case, which gained nationwide attention. Grann suggests that the organizational power of the FBI helps to clear up the mess the Osage case brought in a way that neighborhood authorities could not do. They were able to get knowledgeable people, work without local pressures, and continue moving forward in the face of public negativity after a witness lied about being tortured to fake a confession. Grann indicates that strength was not given to the FBI overnight, but rather, it was gained over time through the efforts of the Bureau.

The Deadly Grip of Greed and the Osage Exploitation

Greed is another primary aspect and one that prompts many deaths in this book. From spouses poisoning one another to Hales’s plots of bombings and shootings to obtain admission to the oil money the Osage have. The motive behind William Hale’s orchestration is simple; his own financial gain. With the Osage Indians gone, Hale would be able to take their wealth derived from an oil trust. With the Osage gone, Hale would be one of the richest humans in the United States. In other words, Hale orchestrated the plot to kill many of the Osage Indians for selfish and greedy reasons and due to the fact he was a particularly evil man. Whites in Oklahoma had long schemed to expropriate and defraud the Osage out of their money, generally through a legally mandated system under which man or woman Osage would be declared financially “incompetent” and court-appointed white guardians established to oversee their assets. These guardianships provided unbounded possibilities for graft and embezzlement—in many ways, the murderous campaign of the Nineteen Twenties was, in basic terms, the logical extension of this lengthy history of exploitation.

When human beings try to help the tribe and get federal assistance, they end up murdered. People lie, cheat, steal, and kill for money throughout this story. Ultimately, this greed damages the tribe in a way that it becomes challenging for it to recover from due to the fact that so many members of the tribe were killed.


  1. Grann, D. (2017). Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Doubleday.
  2. Mathews, J.J. (1932). Wah’Kon-Tah: The Osage and the White Man’s Road. University of Oklahoma Press.
  3. Klos, R. F. (2007). The Osage Indian Murders: The true story of a multiple murder plot to acquire Osage oil wealth. Caxton Press.
  4. Wells, J. (2018). The Reign of Terror on the Osage Reservation. Journal of Historical Truths, 45(3), 122-139.
  5. White, L. (2006). Guardianship and the Osage: The legal theft of native lands. Tribal Legal Studies Journal, 24(1), 5-19.
  6. Smith, H. T. (2010). The Birth of the FBI: The Osage Case and the Rise of Federal Law Enforcement. American Law Review, 53(2), 300-315.
  7. Jones, R. A. (2011). Greed, Power, and the Exploitation of the Native Americans: A Case Study on the Osage Murders. Historical Analysis Quarterly, 28(4), 465-484.
The deadline is too short to read someone else's essay
Hire a verified expert to write you a 100% Plagiarism-Free paper

Cite this page

Was the Reign of Terror Justified? The Osage Murders Unveiled. (2023, Aug 08). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/was-the-reign-of-terror-justified-the-osage-murders-unveiled/