What is gone is treasured because it was what we once were. We gather our past and present into the depths of our being and face tomorrow. We are still Osage. We live and we reach old age for our forefathers.
There was one question that the judge and the prosecutors and the defense never asked the jurors but that was central to the proceedings: Would a jury of twelve white men ever punish another white man for killing an American Indian? One skeptical reporter noted, “The attitude of a pioneer cattleman toward the full-blood Indian…is fairly well recognized.” A prominent member of the Osage tribe put the matter more bluntly: “It is a question in my mind whether this jury is considering a murder case or not. The question for them to decide is whether a white man killing an Osage is murder – or merely cruelty to animals.”
Your money draws ’em and you’re absolutely helpless. They have all the law and all the machinery on their side. Tell everybody, when you write your story, that they’re scalping our souls out here.
Yet an ugliness often lurked beneath the reformist zeal of Progressivism. Many Progressives – who tended to be middle-class white Protestants – held deep prejudices against immigrants and blacks and were so convinced of their own virtuous authority that they disdained democratic procedures.
There never has been a country on this earth that has fallen except when that point was reached… where the citizens would say, ‘We cannot get justice in our courts.’
Stores gone, post office gone, train gone, school gone, oil gone, boys and girls gone – only thing not gone is graveyard and it git bigger.
Some day this oil will go and there will be no more fat checks every few months from the Great White Father. There’ll be no fine motorcars and new clothes. Then I know my people will be happier.[a chief of the Osage said in 1928]
Only in the mid-nineteenth century, after the growth of industrial cities and a rash of urban riots – after dread of the so-called dangerous classes surpassed dread of the state – did police departments emerge in the United States.
In May, when coyotes howl beneath an unnervingly large moon, taller plants, such as spiderworts and black-eyed Susans, begin to creep over the tinier blooms, stealing their light and water. The necks of the smaller flowers break and their petals flutter away, and before long they are buried underground. This is why the Osage Indians refer to May as the time of the flower-killing moon.
History is a merciless judge. It lays bare our tragic blunders and foolish missteps and exposes our most intimate secrets, wielding the power of hindsight like an arrogant detective who seems to know the end of the mystery from the outset.