The Osage of Oklahoma were the richest people on the planet.
Until they killed them.
For their oil.
This is an investigation I’ve worked on quietly for 27 years. And now I’m finally able to give you a 100-second preview, here…
In the 1920s, after discovery of the massive oil field on the Osage Reservation, the US government took away the Osage’s right to their wealth, instead appointing a white Guardian for each Osage to “protect” their money.
Here’s how their guardians protected them: Osage Anna Brown was shot in the head, her mother Lizzie poisoned, and her sister Rita was burnt to death when her home was dynamited. Sixty, and likely many more, Osage were assassinated. And their “guardians,” their murderers — inherited their oil rights.
That story, of the murder-for-oil Reign of Terror, is movingly portrayed in the film, Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, to be released next month.
However, as Osage Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear tells me, “But it’s not over. It’s still happening.”
Where Killers of the Flower Moon ends, our new documentary, Long Knife, begins: the hidden story of the Osage over the 100 years since the Reign of Terror.
I’ve been waiting a long time to tell this story. Nearly three decades ago, as an expert in energy industry fraud and racketeering, I was asked to investigate the massive theft of oil from the Osage. The trail of evidence led straight to a guy I had never heard of, “Charlie” — Charles Koch.
I wrote a documentary exposing “Charlie” — but it never saw the light of day: no one cared about some small-time oil-rustler from Wichita.
Now the story can at last be told: the genesis of the Koch brothers’ billions — and the creation of the Kochs’ political Death Star. The Koch dark money machine was first launched for the purpose of quashing the federal indictment over his crimes against the Osage that promised to put Charles Koch behind bars for a decade.
The “guardianship” horror was ended by Congress — but replaced by putting the Osage under “Trusteeship”.
Chief Standing Bear explains what he wants you to know:
“…This is like a military occupation. It is. This is our land, and we bought this land, this mineral estate, with our own money. Department of Interior, says, ‘It belongs to us, and not you.’ And who do they get to help manage? Well, take a look: Koch Oil. The end game is to extract as much wealth from our lands as possible.”
Standing Bear, an accomplished trial attorney, showed me his name listed in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ big leather book of “incompetent” Osage.
It was not long ago that “incompetent” Osage literally couldn’t buy a sack of potatoes without approval of the BIA agent, the “Ma-he-kah,” the “Long Knife.”
We have located some extraordinary people who have waited years to tell this story: The lead FBI agent who had an armed showdown with Koch operatives. And the US Prosecutor in charge of the Koch investigation for the US Senate — two men furious that Koch could bury a federal indictment. (We have a copy of it!) And we have filmed the confession of one of the men “Charlie” ordered to steal from the Osage — wounded to his soul for what he had to do to keep his job.
And you’ll meet the Osage, warriors of a new kind. They have been left with 10,000 abandoned oil wells dripping poisons and spewing methane, possibly America’s worst source of ozone threatening discharges. Their fight has just begun.
OSAGE OIL AND THE NEW TRAIL OF TEARS
Reported by Greg Palast
Directed by David Ambrose.
And produced by George DiCaprio…and YOU
Greg Palast (Rolling Stone, Guardian, BBC) is the author of The New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits and the book and documentary,
The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.
His latest film is Vigilante: Georgia's Vote Suppression Hitman
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