Killers of the Flower Moon
David Grann
Contributed by Shemika Thormahlen
Chapter 22
Summary

It is 2012 — and David Grann, the author, travels to Pawhuska. Most of the old things, such as the railroads, oil derricks, and outlaws, among others, are gone. Pawhuska now has a population of 3,600 people, and it serves as the capital of the Osage Nation. He visits the Osage Nation Museum, and Kathryn Red Corn, the director, shows him some old photographs of the tribe. In a picture of the tribe taken in 1924, a piece is missing; after enquiring, Kathryn says that the tribe members cut off the devil for the pain he caused them. She brings the other part, and it shows William K. Hale. Kathryn also gives him the name of the Osage who could tell him about the events that took place during the Reign of Terror since it was too painful to forget.

On one Saturday, Grann visits and finds a stage constructed for a traditional dance. He meets Margie Burkhart, Mollie’s granddaughter and James’ daughter. She tells him about the different events that took place, including the release of Ernest on parole in 1937, the death of Mollie in the same year, and the release of Hale in 1947 (he was released for good behavior) and his death in 1962. Ernest had been arrested again for robbery and had returned to Oklahoma in 1966 when Margie met him; he was the kind grandfather who she could not believe had done those horrible things. Margie decides to show Grann around, and life has changed — the oil business has fallen, and the check she currently receives is not enough to live on.

They also visit the cemetery where various victims of the terror — including Anna, Rita, Lizzie, Minnie, and Bill Smith, and those who had survived and later died, such as Mollie — rested. She also takes him to the ravine where Anna was shot, and to the place where Bill and Rita Smith’s house stood. She says that on the night of the bombing, Mollie and the kids had planned to spend the night at Rita’s house but failed to go because James had an earache. Ernest had not even tried to warn them, which meant the kids had to grow up knowing that their father wanted to kill them.

Analysis

Time changes many things. The pain inflicted on the Osage Indians was immense, and many years on the people still feel the pain. That picture from 1924, with Hale cut-out, establishes the hate and the ordeal the people experienced, and removing him from the image was their way of disassociating him for his many evil deeds. Mollie’s family has thrived and grown over time despite the attempts made on her life in the 1920s. Margie seems familiar with everything about the tribe for her family suffered immensely, considering the deaths brought upon them through the murders. She is also seen as strong since she can tell and show Grann the different places in Osage, especially the parts where various crimes were committed. Since people do not learn about the Osage tribe’s ordeal in school, it may signify the prejudice that still exists (e.g. the government not wanting to inform its fellow citizens about the crimes committed by white people on innocent American Indians from the Osage tribe).

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