In Indigenous Communities, a Divided Reaction to ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’

Following a July screening of Martin Scorsese’s film “Killers of the Flower Moon” in Tulsa, Oklahoma, many Indigenous viewers emerged with a range of complex emotions. For Dana Bear, a member of the Osage Nation, the movie brought to light the horrors of the Reign of Terror in Oklahoma during the 1920s, when dozens of oil-rich Osage people were murdered by their white neighbors.

While the film has received seven Golden Globes nominations, it has sparked both praise and criticism within Indigenous communities. According to some, the movie portrays the Osage culture and language accurately, depicting the tragic events that unfolded during that time. The production team worked tirelessly to consult with Osage people and incorporate their feedback into the movie, ensuring authenticity in clothing, language, art, and more.

Despite these efforts, others have criticized the film for telling the story from a white man’s perspective, lacking sufficient context about the U.S. government’s complicity in the murders, and centering the narrative around the criminals. Indigenous viewers have expressed the desire for the story to be told from an Indigenous perspective, with some stating that the Entertainment industry needs to offer more opportunities for Indigenous filmmakers to share their stories.

While the movie has brought awareness to the tragic history of the Osage people, there is still a call for greater representation and storytelling from an Indigenous viewpoint within mainstream cinema.

Historically, the Reign of Terror in Oklahoma was a devastating period for the Osage Nation, during which members of the tribe were targeted and killed due to their oil wealth. The complicity of the U.S. government in these heinous crimes has contributed to the lasting trauma experienced by Indigenous communities. With “Killers of the Flower Moon,” there is hope for broader awareness of these events and a renewed focus on the need for Indigenous voices and perspectives in filmmaking.

The film has sparked both celebration and criticism within Indigenous communities, leading to important discussions about representation, cultural accuracy, and historical context in mainstream cinema. Despite its accolades, the movie serves as a reminder of the ongoing need for authentic Indigenous perspectives and storytelling within the Entertainment industry.

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