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Mon May 27, 2019, 11:26 PM

In The 1920s, A Community Conspired To Kill Native Americans For Their Oil Money

In The 1920s, A Community Conspired To Kill Native Americans For Their Oil Money

April 17, 20174:44 AM ET



Ernest and Mollie Burkhart married in 1917. Unbeknownst to Mollie, a member of the Osage tribe, the marriage was part of a larger plot to steal her family's oil wealth.
Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoman Collection/Courtesy of Doubleday

Generations ago, the American Indian Osage tribe was compelled to move. Not for the first time, white settlers pushed them off their land in the 1800s. They made their new home in a rocky, infertile area in northeast Oklahoma in hopes that settlers would finally leave them alone.

As it turned out, the land they had chosen was rich in oil, and in the early 20th century, members of the tribe became spectacularly wealthy. They bought cars and built mansions; they made so much oil money that the government began appointing white guardians to "help" them spend it.

And then Osage members started turning up dead.

Interview Highlights
On how the conspiracy worked

What makes these crimes so sinister is that it involved marrying into families. It involved a level of calculation and a level of betraying the very people you pretended to love. And the way these murders would take place is that people would marry into the families and then begin to kill each member of the family. ... That's exactly what happened to [Osage woman Mollie Burkhart]. She had married a white man, and his uncle was the most powerful settler in the area. He was known as the King of the Osage Hills ... and he had orchestrated a very sinister plot played out over years where he directed his nephew, who had married Mollie Burkhart, to marry her so that he could then begin to kill the family members one by one and siphon off all the wealth.

More:
https://www.npr.org/2017/04/17/523964584/in-the-1920s-a-community-conspired-to-kill-native-americans-for-their-oil-money?fbclid=IwAR04RFaWRWArGU75b2roHQ4v4zuuTdCV6pGUz0qb_iL4COYshhATYCIbO0k

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon May 27, 2019, 11:33 PM

1. Another part of OK history we don't learn in OK schools! Thanks for posting.

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Response to bobbieinok (Reply #1)

Tue May 28, 2019, 12:09 AM

2. Just discovered it tonight when someone posted it on Facebook. Had never known about it, either.

I can't get that evil face of the monster in the photo above who married that woman to steal her money, instead of caring for her. If only someone had been able to stop these criminals before they got power over the unsuspecting, defenseless victims.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #2)

Tue May 28, 2019, 09:21 AM

5. I had read that the Osage were a major target because of their money from oil

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Response to bluedigger (Reply #3)

Tue May 28, 2019, 06:43 AM

4. It's a great book...would highly recommend

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Response to bluedigger (Reply #3)

Tue May 28, 2019, 08:39 PM

6. "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI"

by David Grann, published by Doubleday in 2017.

It is a searing indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward Native Americans that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity.

I had a hard time reading it.

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Response to Haggis for Breakfast (Reply #6)

Wed May 29, 2019, 03:13 AM

8. It does sound worthwhile. Thanks for your comment. n/t

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Response to Haggis for Breakfast (Reply #6)

Sat Jun 1, 2019, 11:01 PM

11. Found an article regarding the book you read, and film:

Osage Nation's 'Reign of Terror' gains renewed attention with book and film

Thursday, January 11, 2018
'Killers of the Flower Moon' heads to the silver screen
Martin Scorcese, Leonardo DiCaprio attached to film based on book by David Grann
By Kevin Abourezk
@Kevin_Abourezk

Jim Gray won’t forget.

His parents made sure of that, naming him for a great-grandfather who fell victim to greed and racism, along with so many Osage people.

Gray’s middle name is Roan, a nod to Henry Roan, who in 1923 was murdered on the Osage reservation for a $25,000 insurance policy and his mineral rights.

Two men were later convicted of the crime, which was part of a wave of murders of Osage people.

Gray – a former principal chief of the Osage Nation and the current chief of staff for the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma – said his parents named him for his great-grandfather as a way to honor Henry Roan.

More:
https://www.indianz.com/News/2018/01/11/osage-nations-reign-of-terror-gains-rene.asp]

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Response to bluedigger (Reply #3)

Wed May 29, 2019, 03:12 AM

7. Surely hope a lot of people will learn about this. Thanks. n/t

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri May 31, 2019, 08:52 PM

9. 1921-1925, 60 Osage were killed, their land inherited/deeded to 'guardians'

Wiki, Osage Indian Murders. Thirteen other deaths of full-blooded Osage men and women, who had guardians appointed by the courts, occurred between 1921 and 1923. By 1925, 60 wealthy Osage had been killed, and their land had been inherited or deeded to their guardians: local white lawyers and businessmen. The FBI found a low-level market in murderers for hire to kill the Osage for their wealth.

>Murder investigation and trials[edit] The Osage Tribal Council suspected that rancher **William Hale was responsible for many of the deaths. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior sent four agents to act as undercover investigators. Working undercover for two years, the agents discovered a crime ring of petty criminals led by Hale, known in Osage County as the "King of the Osage Hills". He and his nephews, Ernest and Bryan Burkhart, had migrated from Texas to Osage County to find jobs in the oil fields. Once there, they discovered the immense wealth of members of the Osage Nation from royalties being paid from leases on oil-producing lands.

To gain part of the wealth, Hale persuaded Ernest to marry Mollie Kyle, a full-blooded Osage. Hale then arranged for the murders of Mollie’s sisters, her brother-in-law, her mother, and her cousin, Henry Roan, to cash in on the insurance policies and oil headrights of each family member. Other witnesses and participants were murdered as investigation of the conspiracy expanded. Mollie and Ernest Burkhart inherited all of the headrights from her family. Investigators found when they opened the case that Mollie was already being poisoned.[ Mollie moved away, recovered and divorced Ernest. Her children inherited her property]... MORE, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osage_Indian_murders



- William Hale, Osage Indian murderer.

William King Hale (December 24, 1874—August 15, 1962), often known locally as "Bill", or the self-styled "King of the Osage Hills," was a U.S. cattleman and convicted murderer. Born in Greenville, Texas, he came to the Indian Territory late in the 19th century and settled on the Osage Indian Reservation, where he built the noted Hale Ranch and made a fortune raising cattle. When Oklahoma gained statehood in 1907, the land occupied by the reservation became contiguous with Osage County, Oklahoma.

A power player in the Osage Indian Reservation in northern Oklahoma, Hale rose to local prominence in the late 19th century through years of bribery, intimidation, and extortion. In 1921, he ordered the murders of his nephew's wife and mother-in-law, followed by her cousin, sister and brother-in-law two years later, to gain control of their oil rights. Over the next few months, he had killed at least two dozen others who had threatened to testify against him..More, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hale_(cattleman)

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Response to appalachiablue (Reply #9)

Sat Jun 1, 2019, 10:57 PM

10. Had to go look for photos of this monster, after reading more about him.

Last edited Sat Jun 1, 2019, 11:36 PM - Edit history (1)

Found this one:



This photo appeared on the front page of the Tulsa World on Jan. 19, 1929. The original caption says: "Perhaps the three figures most familiar to court fans following the Hale murder trial at Pawhuska are W.K. Hale, "King of the Osage," accused in connection with the death of Henry Roan, Osage Indian, in 1923, in the center of the above picture: Mrs. Myrtle Hale, the defendant's wife, at the right, and Mrs. Willie Oller, 21 years old, Hale's daughter. The wife and daughter have been with Hale at every session of court since the trial opened last Tuesday."

https://www.tulsaworld.com/william-k-hale-and-family/pdf_3bc96502-55d6-522d-a7c4-1a134903678c.html

Looks as if they were all wearing their stylish clothes bought with money William got after murdering and robbing so many Osage people. This demon lived until 1962.

Thank you for your links and information.

On edit:

Found a clearer photo:

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Jun 1, 2019, 11:44 PM

12. In depth article from the Oklahoma newspaper, the Oklahoman:

InDepth: Greed, collusion lead to Osage murders | News OK

It's the 1920s and oil production in the Osage Nation is at a peak. The tribe's wealth has become legendary. But along with its bounty, sorrow and fear will paralyze the Osage Nation in the coming years, during an era the tribe now calls “The Reign of Terror.”
By Melissa Howell
Published: January 12, 2014

The headlights on the Buick touring car cut through the darkness, bumping down the road between Fairfax and Pawhuska in Osage County. It’s the late hours of May 21, 1921.

Anna Brown, a 40-year-old, full-blooded Osage woman, stares sourly into the cloud of dust gathering in the headlights. Byron Burkhart, a white man in his early 20s and Anna’s off-and-on lover, is behind the wheel, trying to coax her out of her testy mood.

As they drive over the Osage hills, Burkhart knows that Brown will not live to see the sunrise.

It’s the 1920s, and oil production in the Osage Nation is at a peak. The tribe’s wealth has become legendary. But along with its bounty, sorrow and fear will paralyze the Osage Nation in the coming years, during an era the tribe now calls “The Reign of Terror.”

More:
https://oklahoman.com/special/article/3921909/ndepth-greed-collusion-lead-to-osage-murders



(7 minute video regarding the oil and the Osage people)

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #12)

Sun Jun 2, 2019, 02:06 AM

13. Hale the ringleader was a real monster, like his nephews and

many others he directed in criminal activity. Worse than the Borgias. Hale was already well off from ranching, extortion and other efforts prior to scheming to kill and rob the Osage- always 'more to me had' I guess, especially for sociopaths. And the guardians, attorneys appointed to protect the Osage were often in on the schemes. SO evil and corrupt. Thanks for the OP, the good video below and all the info. I look forward to the Scorcese movie based on the book that's beginning to be filmed now so I read. *From the photos with his wife and daughter, Hale looks like a very smug, confident and self satisfied criminal.



Mollie Burkhart (second from right) lost all three of her sisters under suspicious circumstances. Rita Smith (left) died in an explosion, Anna Brown (second from left) was shot in the head and Minnie Smith (right) died of what doctors referred to as a "peculiar wasting illness."

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