Responsible Ways to Learn about the Osage Murders in Oklahoma
The following are tips and reminders from OTRD and the Osage Nation for being courteous and responsible tourists:
Honor the Victims: Visitors are asked to not visit the cemetery where the victims of the Reign of Terror are buried.
Respect Private Property: Do not trespass. Respect any restrictions or guidelines provided.
Research the Destination: Before visiting, take the time to research and understand the Osage Nation's history and values.
Support Local Businesses: Opt for local accommodations, restaurants and tour operators. Intentional spending can positively impact the local economy and community.
Osage County is home to many of the sites mentioned in the book and film.
Places to visit in the region include:
Osage Nation Museum (Pawhuska): Located at the heart of the Osage Nation since 1938, the Osage Nation Museum is a place of gathering, community and sharing the enduring story of the Osage. It is the oldest tribally-governed museum in the United States, and was championed by Osage Tribal Councilman and writer John Joseph Mathews in an effort to create a central repository for the art, artifacts and material culture related to the history of the Osage. The museum is open daily Tuesday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking and admission are free.
Osage Nation Visitors Center (Pawhuska): The mission of the Osage Nation Visitors Center is to promote Osage culture, Osage Nation services and Osage-owned artists and businesses. It provides an accurate history of the Osage tribe from an Osage perspective, using technology and literature for an enhanced experience. The center is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve (Pawhuska): This preserve is the largest protected piece of tallgrass prairie left on earth. Spanning over 14 states, this site offers visitors many opportunities to watch diverse wildlife while enjoying the breathtaking scenery. The preserve is open seven days a week during daylight hours.
John Joseph Mathews Historic Cabin (Pawhuska): Located in the Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, this cabin was home to renowned Osage author and historian, John Joseph Mathews. The last tour for this year will take place on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Click here to register for a tour of John Joseph Mathews' historic home.
Big Rain Gallery (Pawhuska): The Big Rain Gallery is a Native-owned and woman-owned art gallery that features a wide variety of art, jewelry, silverwork, accessories and clothing made by Native Osage artists. This small business is a great way to support Native artists and see their beautiful work. The Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment.
Tall Chief Theater (Fairfax): This theater was originally built by Alex Tall Chief, whose daughter went on to become America's first prima ballerina. The Tall Chief Theater is mentioned in the book and movie and there is a small memorial inside honoring the victims. Tall Chief Theater offers small in-person tours that take you through the town of Fairfax, providing insider information on locations mentioned in the book. Tours are $25 per person and are about an hour long. Visit com/take-action for more information on how to book a tour.
White Hair Memorial (Ralston): The White Hair Memorial and Osage Learning Resource Center is an important resource for anyone interested in Osage Indian history. Located less than a mile from Highway 20 between Hominy and Fairfax, the White Hair Memorial houses numerous Osage artifacts and documents as well as resources such as maps, annuity rolls, oral histories and photographs. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment on Saturdays.
Water Bird Gallery (Pawhuska): The Water Bird Gallery in Pawhuska is a Native store located in the heart of downtown Pawhuska. This unique shop carries native-made goods and art, including beautiful turquoise and sterling silver jewelry, gift products, both new and vintage clothing items and so much more. It is open Monday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Osage Hills State Park (Pawhuska): Located in the heart of the Osage Nation in northeast Oklahoma, Osage Hills State Park is a prime example of Oklahoma's natural beauty. With lush forests, rocky bluffs and serene waters, the park boasts 1,100 acres of scenery. A visit to Osage Hills State Park in the fall will inspire visitors, as the foliage transforms from green to vivid shades of yellow, orange and red.
Places to Visit in Ponca City:
The Marland Mansion (Ponca City): The Marland Mansion in Ponca City, Oklahoma, is a significant historical site, primarily known for its connection to the Marland family, particularly E.W. Marland, an influential oil baron of the early 20th century. While the mansion itself is more directly related to the history of the oil industry and the lifestyle of the Marland family, it does provide a context for understanding the broader historical landscape of the area, including aspects of Native American history. E.W. Marland's life and career were deeply intertwined with the history of the Osage Nation, as his oil ventures were significantly impacted by the discovery of oil on Osage land. This period, notably marked by the events depicted in "Killers of the Flower Moon," highlights the complex and often troubled interactions between oil barons like Marland and the Osage people. Visitors to the Marland Mansion might not find extensive exhibits specifically dedicated to Native American history, but understanding the Marland family's story provides insight into the socio-economic dynamics of the era, which had profound implications for the Osage Nation and other Native American communities in the region. For more detailed information about the Marland Mansion and its historical significance, you can visit the Marland Mansion's history page.
The American Indian Museum located in the basement of the Marland Grand Home (Ponca City): In keeping with the spirit of the American Indians who helped Marland to acquire his oil, the home displays American Indian exhibits and artifacts of local tribes. Chief White Eagle of the Poncas became a good friend of E.W. Marland. In 1923 the Ponca Tribe made Marland an honorary member based on the friendship he had developed with the tribe. Items such as moccasins, bags, pipes, clothing, jewelry, toys, pottery, and baskets are part of the collection.
A special Ponca display includes the two Ponca Chiefs, Standing Bear and White Eagle, along with Big Snake, Standing Bear’s brother. All three were a part of a formal delegation to Washington D.C. representing the Ponca Tribe. The basement also houses an exhibit of an archaeological dig funded by Marland in 1926. The Arkansas River dig site unearthed artifacts of an ancient Wichita encampment and meat processing center. The effort was guided by Dr. Thoburn of the University of Oklahoma with one-third of the items found going to the Chilocco Indian School, one-third to the University of Oklahoma and one-third kept by Marland to start and Indian Museum in Ponca City
Standing Bear Museum (Ponca City): The Standing Bear Museum, located in Ponca City, Oklahoma, offers a unique perspective on Native American history, particularly relevant for those interested in the Osage Murders and the events depicted in "Killers of the Flower Moon." While the museum primarily focuses on the life and legacy of Standing Bear, a Ponca chief known for his crucial role in the recognition of Native American rights, it also provides valuable context for understanding the broader history of Native Americans in the region, including the Osage Nation. The museum highlights the struggles and triumphs of Native American tribes in maintaining their rights and sovereignty. Standing Bear's story is a testament to these struggles, which is a crucial backdrop to understanding the legal and social context in which the Osage Murders occurred. The museum offers insights into the culture, traditions, and way of life of the Native American tribes in Oklahoma, including the Osage. This cultural understanding is essential for appreciating the depth of the tragedy that befell the Osage people during the oil boom and the subsequent murders. Other insights you can gain from this museum include:
Impact of Federal Policies on Native Tribes: The museum may also explore the impact of federal policies on Native tribes, including issues of land rights and mineral wealth. The Osage Murders were deeply intertwined with the exploitation of the Osage's oil rights, a consequence of these policies.
Tribal Resilience and Continuity: The museum celebrates the resilience and continuity of Native American cultures, including the Osage. This perspective helps visitors appreciate the strength and perseverance of the Osage Nation in the face of adversity and injustice.
While the Standing Bear Museum may not directly focus on the Osage Murders or the specific events depicted in "Killers of the Flower Moon," it provides an essential backdrop to those events, offering a broader understanding of the historical and cultural landscape in which these events took place.
Visiting Ponca City, Oklahoma, offers a unique and enriching experience for anyone interested in delving deeper into the historical context surrounding "Killers of the Flower Moon" and the Osage murders. This city, steeped in history and culture, provides a tangible connection to the events and themes explored in the book and the broader narrative of Native American history in the United States. A visit to Ponca City is not just a journey into a pivotal chapter of American history but also an opportunity to honor and understand the rich cultural heritage of the Osage Nation and other Native American tribes. It's an educational, reflective, and deeply moving experience that brings history to life in a way that books and movies alone cannot.