New York Times bestselling author visits NSU to unveil one of America’s most sinister crimes
TNE Editor
/ Categories: Campus News

New York Times bestselling author visits NSU to unveil one of America’s most sinister crimes

Published 2/13/18

Tori Dodson

TNE Writer

David Grann, bestselling author of "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI" will attend NSU’s 2018 Larry Adair Lectureship to offer a personal insight on his book, which will soon be turned into a movie directed by Martin Scorcese starring Leonardo Dicaprio.

The Larry Adair Lectureship sponsors an annual forum to address issues in politics, government and public policy.

“Regardless of a student's major or hometown, they will hear about a story that is truly stranger than fiction and that has elements applicable to nearly every profession, from Native American rights to criminal justice, from accounting to forensic science, from cultural norms to education and from natural resource management to financial management,” said Peggy Glenn, NSU Foundation executive director and director of development.

Grann’s book is a carefully researched account of the secretive and haunting widespread conspiracy against the Osage Indian Nation in Osage County. Considering NSU's student body has the largest number of American Indian students of any public university in the United States, representing 30 different nations, this forum is significant.

“This was not something I was taught in school and, indeed, one of the reasons I wanted to write the book was to address this shocking void,” said Grann.

After an abundance of oil was discovered beneath the Osage Indian Reservation in the early 1920s, the tribe became the richest people per capita in the world. Soon after the oil upspring, jealousy toward the tribe escalated and members of the tribe were mysteriously killed off one by one.

 “I am Osage,” said Rachel Blackwell, Skiatook senior. “I have always heard about horrific things that happened to our tribal members when the oil boom took place. Since reading the book, I took time to visit the grave sites of some of the Osage tribe members who were murdered.”

Grann centers the riveting and appalling story around an Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, and her family. Mollie watched as her entire family was methodically murdered from violent and questionable causes. By 1925, none of the murders had been solved and the death toll surpassed more than 24 Osage, resulting in the birth of the FBI and the nation’s secret history.

“It is shocking to me that even in my Oklahoma history course this reign of terror was never mentioned,” said Blackwell. “It is almost as if erasing it will prevent it from happening, which is simply foolish. If the movie is historically accurate and true to the book, I believe generations to come will have a good idea of what this reign of terror was.”

Grann said this is one of the most egregious racial injustices in American history and the Osage have most certainly not forgotten.

The Larry Adair Lectureship featuring Grann starts at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 28 at the NSU Center for Performing Arts. This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, email Glenn at     

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