The members of the Osage Indian tribe became rich when the oil was discovered under their reservation in Oklahoma in the early 20th century. The Osage tribe became dominant in the region in the early 19th century, and the majority of their descendants live in Oklahoma. After the discovery of oil, their members suffered manipulation and numerous murders by whites eager to take over their newly discovered wealth. In 1923, when more than two dozen people of Osage tribe were murdered, the case was assigned to the FBI. It was among the first major homicide investigation for the FBI.
The killings started in May 1921, and the first victim of the massacre was 25-year-old women Anna Brown. Her decaying body was discovered in a ravine by the hunters. She had been shot between the eyes. The same day Anna’s cousin Charles Whitehorn’s dead body was found, and two months later, her mother, Lizzie Kyle, was also murdered. These killings were not confined to family, and another woman was found dead on her lawn. A sympathetic local lawyer was also thrown from a speeding train. The estimated death toll of Osage member was over a hundred, but some of these killings were not reported or covered up. The FBI estimated 60 Osage Indians died violent or suspicious deaths. The FBI found several murders in one family, committed by a gang led by William “King of Osage Hills” Hale. His goal was to gain the oil royalty rights and wealth of several tribe members, including his nephew’s Osage wife, the last survivor of her family. Most of the murders remained unresolved.
To prevent further crimes and to protect the members of the Osage tribe, congress passed a law prohibiting non-Osage from inheriting headrights from Osage, who had half or more Native American ancestry in 1925. In 2011, the US government settled with the Osage for $380 million, which was the largest settlement with a tribe in US history.
Here below are some photos of the members of the Osage Indian tribe members.