native Americans and birth of the FBI

This is a story that I was not familiar with. I am adding the book to my reading list.

Oklahoma was set aside as Indian Territory before the Civil War. It was opened for settlement by white farmers and ranchers around 1890. Then oil was discovered, and Indians lost not only their land, but also their lives.

Between 1921 and 1926, at least 24 members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma were brutally murdered. The bodies would lay unclaimed and unmourned on the prairies, sometimes for weeks. Detective-work was then in its infancy in the US and, anyway, there was no place for “Injuns” in the American dream of land and plenty for pioneer homesteaders.

The “Osage reign of terror” … was to become one of the bloodiest chapters in American legal history. One by one, Osage tribespeople were killed by gunshot, fire or poison. Money was thought to be involved. The Osage had become among the wealthiest inhabitants of the US after oil was struck beneath their lands ….

Not one perpetrator was convicted until the young J Edgar Hoover realised that solving the Oklahoma killings might be a way to burnish the image of the newly professionalised Bureau of Investigation (the word “Federal” was added only in 1935). ….

In many ways, the Osage murders were to be the making of the modern FBI, as they provided Hoover with an opportunity to make a case for a proper federal agency.

Ian Thomson, “How the Osage murders in Oklahoma led to the making of the modern FBI“, Financial Times, 19 April 2017 (gated paywall).

English writer Ian Thomson is reviewing Killers of the Flower Moon: Oil, Money, Murder and the Birth of the FBI, by David Grann_ (Doubleday, 2017).

David Grann (born 1967) is an American writer and journalist. Doubleday in 2010 published a collection of twelve of his essays with the title The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession.

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