TULSA — When it became clear that Martin Scorsese had won the battle for the film rights to “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” members of the Osage Nation wrote a letter to the filmmaker and invited him to dinner.
Jim Gray, former Principal Chief of the Osage Nation, related the story to KRMG Monday after his social media post about the back story behind the film went viral.
He says the letter essentially told the filmmaker “We’re not sure we have been adequately consulted about this movie, and we would like to invite you to come to our community, and break bread with you, and sit down and talk about it.”
“And to Scorsese’s credit,” Gray continued, “he jumped on a plane from New York and him and his whole team came down.”
Gray says he spoke for the group, pointing to three movies most people would refer to as “blockbuster” films depicting Native Americans: “Little Big Man,” “Dances With Wolves,” and “Last of the Mohicans.”
All three films, Gray pointed out, were fictional, were not written by Native Americans, and involved a central character he refers to as the “white savior.”
“Killers of the Flower Moon” is a much different situation, he explained.
He says he told Scorsese: “This is not a work of fiction, this is non-fiction. And the person who wrote it may be, you know, non-Indian, but he wrote the history right. It is an accurate telling of what happened. But the third thing is, that there was no ‘white savior’ narrative in this story. The people who survived that period of time are in this room. They’re the ones who know this story best.”
They didn’t want the film to focus on the FBI, with their people relegated to background roles in their own tragic history.
The group also urged him to make the film in Osage County, so they could help with accurate portrayals of the Osage culture, language, and community.
In article published in “The Guardian” Sunday about the film’s screening at Cannes, Scorsese is quoted as saying he had “been so deeply influenced by his encounters with the Native Americans that he switched the film’s focus and decided to tell the story of the crimes from the victims’ perspective.”
The film is due to be released nationwide in theaters in October.