Lily Gladstone is calling out Oklahoma public schools ahead of the “Killers of the Flower Moon” premiere.

The Martin Scorsese film, which is based on David Grann’s nonfiction book chronicling a series of Osage Nation murders in Oklahoma during the 1920s after the discovery of oil on their land, stars Gladstone as a member of the Osage people whose family is murdered. During an Interview magazine conversation with “Certain Women” director Kelly Reichardt, Gladstone compared teaching the film to the denial of reparations for the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre following multiple state lawsuits. “Killers of the Flower Moon” also takes place in the 1920s post the terrorist attack.

“Everything that these Oklahomans are doing is — to say that the objection to teaching about the Tulsa massacre at Greenwood wasn’t race-driven is just — every teacher in the state’s too afraid to teach ‘Killers of the Flower Moon,’” Gladstone said.

The actress added that she was committed to representing the Osage people onscreen by authentically speaking Osage, or the “Francocized version of Wažáže.”  

“The day that I got cast is when I went to the Osage language app and taught myself the orthography as best as I could,” Gladstone said. “It’s funny, I didn’t know my grandma spoke Nez Perce [the namesake language of an Indigenous tribe from the Northwest Plateau]. My grandpa being Blackfeet, and then growing up on the Blackfeet Reservation, that was the language I was used to being around and hearing. I can introduce myself, I’ve got a few words and phrases. But Chinook was a completely different set of phonetics.”

She continued, “Osage has a really comprehensive language department and there are a number of fluent speakers left. I wanted to do my homework before I started working with speakers. And I had about two months to learn and work on the orthography myself, which is incredible. I can still read it.”

Gladstone previously shut down assumptions that “Killers of the Flower Moon” would be a “white-savior story.” The actress told Vulture that rather “it’s the Osage saying, ‘Do something. Here’s money. Come help us.’”

Members of the Osage Nation spoke to The Oklahoman in 2021 about collaborating with the “Killers of the Flower Moon” production.

“I think this movie is going to bring back a lot of old, bad memories,” Osage Nation member Harrison Shackelford said. “But it’s going to bring back some stuff that needed to be talked about, that needs to be said, that some people know and some people don’t know. And I think it’s going to be good.”

Brandy Lemon, a longtime member of the Osage Nation Congress who is working as a liaison on the movie, added, “It’s definitely something that is delicate…It’s a delicate balance that, no matter what, it’s going to hurt some. And others are going to cheer it on. If anybody knows anything about Martin Scorsese, they’re going to get everything in this film. They’re going to get drama, they’re going to get violence in some form, they’re going to get anguish, they’re going to get happiness, all the big feelings.”

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