Indian Country 52 #16 – Killing in the Name of…
“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.”
– NPR, In The 1920s, A Community Conspired To Kill Native Americans For Their Oil Money.
“Numerous conditions led to the Reign of Terror, but one of the most significant was the creation and subsequent abuse of the so-called “headright system.” The term “headright” came about in the 1950s and was coined by court and Indian bureau officials to refer to Osage oil royalty shares, said Tara Damron, Oklahoma History Center historian and Osage tribal member.
In the years leading up to Oklahoma becoming a state, the Osage was the only tribe that had purchased and received title to its reservation, which was owned collectively as a tribe. But this was problematic for the Oklahoma territorial government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which were pushing for statehood. Oklahoma could not become a state until all property was held in individual allotments.
The other Oklahoma tribes had years earlier gone through the process of dispersing tribal assets to individual members. Since the Osages had bought their reservation in 1872, only an act of Congress could mandate individual tribal allotment.
In 1906, the Osages finally relented, and Congress passed the 1906 Osage Allotment Act. The allotment consisted of sections of land and individual shares of the oil royalty payout for the 2,229 individuals listed on the 1906 roll. Many of those individuals were contested by the full-blooded faction of the Osage Tribe.”
– News OK, The Reign of Terror: Greed, collusion led to Osage murders.
Download the 18″x24″ poster (.pdf), Indian Country 52 #16 – Killing in the Name of … (Osage Oil).
Indian Country 52
Indian Country 52 is a weekly project by David Bernie that uses the medium of posters that promote issues and stories in Indian Country. Follow the series: Indian Country 52
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