The Decimation Of The Osage Nation | Connecticut Public Radio

The Decimation Of The Osage Nation

Aug 10, 2017

Native Americans have been getting forced off their land for a long time. Thomas Jefferson forced them from their ancestral home in 1804 after he signed the Louisiana Purchase and promised they shall know the United States as only "friends and benefactors." 

Assured by the government that Kansas territory would be theirs forever, they were soon forced from their new home by white settlers (including the Wilder family of Little House fame) who plundered their burial sites and squatted on their land until they felt little choice but to sell to them.

The Osage finally settled on territory in Oklahoma that most whites found "unfit for cultivation," at least until they found oil underneath those rocks. Then it became attractive to powerful white men who hatched a plot to kill the Osage to obtain their mineral rights to the land. 

This is the chilling story of the systematic murder of one group of native people. It's the bigger story of how the United States government has betrayed and controlled the sovereignty of a nation of people who lived here first. And so the story continues to this day -- Dakota Access Pipeline, proposed cuts to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a push to privatize Native lands and resources. 


  • David Grann - Staff writer for The New Yorker. He’s the author of The Lost City of Z: Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon and Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
  • Denny McAuliffe - Editor at the Washington Post and adjunct professor in Journalism at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He’s the author of The Deaths of Sybil Bolton: An American History. Denny is the Osage grandson of Sybil Bolton.
  • Jim Gray - Former Principal Chief of the Osage Nation and current Tribal Administrator for the Sac and Fox Nation.

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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.