Lesson Plan: The Osage Native Americans - Removal, Wealth, Murder

The Osage: Wealth

David Grann talked about the wealth of the Osage Native Americans in the early 1900s.


Around the turn of the 20th Century, the Osage Native American tribe was driven from their land in Kansas. They relocated to Oklahoma and became wealthy due to the abundance of oil found on their property. As they continued to prosper, they became targets of criminal acts, including murder. After twenty-four deaths, the newly formed FBI launched one of its first investigations to solve the crimes. In this lesson, students will hear from David Grann, author of the book "Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI," as he talked about how this group was driven from their homeland, how they acquired their land in Oklahoma, and the effects the oil on their property had on thief people and the country.


  • SET UP:

    This lesson offers several options for you to use with your students whether you are teaching in class, using a hybrid model, or engaging through distance learning. It can be completed in steps as a class or students can move at their own pace and complete the activities independently.

    You can post links to the videos in the lesson along with the related handouts and engage in discussion to share responses on a discussion board or learning management system.

    You can also save and share the following Google resources for students to use with this lesson.

    HANDOUT: Vocabulary Chart (Google Doc)

    HANDOUT: Graphic Organizer (Google Doc)

    In Google, choose "File" then "Make a Copy" to get your own copy. You can make any needed adjustments in the instructions such as which activities students need to complete, when it is due, etc. and then make it available to them via Google.


    Prior to beginning this lesson, students can review the vocabulary terms, look up the definitions of those words they are not familiar with, and note the definitions on the handout.

    Next, as a class, view the following video clip of David Grann talking about the wealth of the Osage Native Americans in the early 1900s. Use the accompanying questions to guide class discussion.

    Video Clip 1: The Osage: Wealth (1:46)

    • How did the Osage accumulate their wealth in the early 1900s?

    • How was it perceived among people across the country?

    Have students view the following collection of video clips. They can watch each video independently, view a video with a partner, or you can jigsaw them by assigning videos to students. Students should respond to the questions on the handout. After viewing the videos, use the accompanying questions to engage in class discussion.

  • Video Clip 2: Oil Rich Land (7:26)

    David Grann talked about how this group acquired their oil rich land and its impact.

    • What areas of the country did the Osage originally control?

    • Describe Thomas Jefferson’s relationship with the Osage.

    • Explain how the Osage were driven from their land.

    • Explain how the Osage eventually settled in Oklahoma.

    • How did the Osage maintain control over their oil rich land?

    • Describe the impact this oil had on the country.
  • Video Clip 3: Reaction to Osage Wealth (5:52)

    David Grann talked about the reaction among people around the country to the wealth of the Osage.

    • Describe the reaction among people in the country to the Osage wealth.

    • What action did Congress take, and how did the Osage respond?

    • Explain the unusual events that occurred surrounding Mollie Burkhart's family.
  • Video Clip 4: Crimes Against the Osage (4:59)

    David Grann talked about crimes that were committed against the Osage and the people who were trying to help them.

    • Describe the crimes that were committed against the Osage people as well as the people who were trying to capture the criminals.
  • Video Clip 5: The Osage Murders and the FBI (7:55)

    David Grann explains the role of the FBI in the Osage murders including how agents went undercover to solve the crimes.

    • Describe the makeup of the Bureau of Investigations, or the FBI, as David Grann discussed.

    • How did the FBI become involved with the Osage murder cases?

    • Who was Tom White?

    • Describe his first meeting with Herbert Hoover.

    • What approach did White and his team take to solve the Osage case, and where did their investigation lead them?

    • According to David Grann, what made these crimes so sinister?

    Have students read the following article to learn about the conclusion and aftermath of the Osage case:

    Did You Know? Osage Murders (The Osage Nation)

    Ask students to write a summary indicating who was responsible for these crimes and what the legal outcomes were.


    Have students consider completing one of the following activities:

    • What laws were changed following the Osage "Reign of Terror" period?

    • Conduct research to learn about Osage history and culture and their lives today.

Additional Resources


  • Allotment
  • Assimilation
  • Benefactor
  • Communal
  • Conspiracy
  • Corrupt
  • Delegation
  • Embezzle
  • Frontier
  • Guardian
  • Headright
  • J. Edgar Hoover
  • Lease
  • Leverage
  • Migrate
  • Per Capita
  • Plutocratic
  • Prospector
  • Royalties
  • Scapegoat
  • Stereotype
  • Subsurface
  • Teapot Dome Scandal
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Untainted


English & LiteratureGeographyState HistoryU.S. History


High SchoolUniversity