Congrats to Lily Gladstone and Flower Moon for Authentic Storytelling

Entering Oscars season, Lily Gladstone is at the top of everyone’s list for her performance as Mollie Kyle in Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon. This is greatly deserved attention for her portrayal of the Osage matriarch who fought like hell to honor her sister, her family, and her Tribe.

The historical component of the Flower Moon story makes even more powerful the idea that fact is stronger than fiction. Scorsese did a magical weaving together of the details, the storyline, and the representation of the Osage people. In fact, there are many details layered into the movie that can be quickly glossed over by viewers.

Is this a true story? Was this legal maneuver to retain oil head rights widely used? What are head rights? How were the agents able to declare the Tribal members incompetent? Was the FBI born out of this era of lawlessness?

So many of these threads of American history are tied to this story that it was fascinating to be transported back to that era. Sadly, what we know today is that money and power can bring out the worst in humanity. Conversely, the energy, determination, and grace of Native women have long held our communities together even through the most challenging eras.

Lily has embodied the power of this story while carrying herself with beauty, humility, and selflessness throughout all the attention she has garnered. Hearing her speak the Blackfeet language drove viewers wild on the internet, and watching her honor her mother strikes the core of all that is good in humanity.

A True Story

On paper, in the book, and in the film, this story might be the first documented case of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), which makes it the gut-punch that Devery Jacobs felt when watching the film. I know many people who watched the movie and had a visceral reaction to the abuse of women and the guttural pain expressed by Mollie. They were blindsided by this true story in American history. Yet, in our Tribal communities, there are countless tales like this that are life-changing, devastating, and relentless.

The Strength of Native Women

The strength that we all need to persevere these historical inequities largely comes from our grandmothers, mothers, sisters, and aunties. On more than one occasion, Native women have stood at the forefront to defend the rights of their families and Tribal Nations. Whether it was defending land and resources or advocating for treaty fulfillment, Native women have an unequivocal strength, humor, and fierce nature instilled by family and survival.

Many other Native actors brought the movie to life as well. Appearances by Tantoo Cardinal, Tatanka Means, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, and Jillian Dion, along with the open consultation with the Osage Nation, make this a once-in-a-generation feature that sets a new storytelling standard. Knowing that relatives of Henry Roan Horse are happy with the film tells me all I need to know about the efforts toward authenticity.

These are challenging times for our people and our country. Having the ability to escape into films and celebrating the wins from countless hours of hard work is uplifting for Native communities. Walk in beauty, Lily Gladstone; we all walk with you.

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