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One hundred years ago in February 1923, Henry Roan, a 40-year-old Osage man, was murdered. His body was found just outside of Fairfax, Oklahoma behind the steering wheel of a Buick. Roan had been shot in the back of the head. 

Roan was just one of several Osage people who were murdered in rural Oklahoma. The story of the murders is now being told on the big screen in  “The Killers of the Flower Moon” that was released nationwide on Friday. The movie is based on the bestseller book with the same title by David Grann. 

In the film, Roan is played by the First Nation’s actor William Belleau from the “Twilight” saga. 

Roan’s descendants are pleased the movie was made so that the public is aware of what happened to their relatives a century ago.

One descendant of Henry Roan is Margo Gray, who is one of his great-granddaughters. Gray has held several Osage leadership roles and is currently the executive director of the United Indian Nations of Oklahoma.  

Gray was in n Los Angeles last week for the premiere of “Killers of the Flower Moon." 

On Friday, Gray posted a letter to her great grandfather Henry Roan on her Facebook page. Gray granted Native News Online to publish her letter:

Dear Great-Grandfather,

Your tragic death will never be lost in a memory or forgotten history.  Your granddaughter, my mother raised a family of seven strong individuals who were raised Osage and she and my Father made sure we knew our Osage ways and gave back to our community. You have over 200 descendants who represent our tribe in culture, leadership, business, language, and the arts.  

I’m proud to let you know that many of your descendants serve the Great Osage Nation and Osage Casinos in positions and directorships that provide for our people! You would be so proud!

Your short life, from losing your Mother when you were a toddler, to be being traditionally married at a young age, then being sent off to boarding school at Carlisle, only to be traumatized by that experience, coming back home and marrying  and starting a family and having your wife die at a young age. Your Guardian was a vulture who sold your allotment off for $1 dollar….and swindled all your money. You later remarried and went through a difficult relationship.

You didn’t know that where you were murdered was on an Osage Allotment (federal land) John Ramsey and William Hale were found guilty of your murder. It brought a U.S. Supreme Court ruling U.S. v. Ramsay - on crimes committed against Indians on federal lands, which also brought the Federal Bureau of investigation to investigate and file this case in federal court.

Because of your murder, I decided to dedicate my career to service in law enforcement, native business, tribal leadership, policy and advocacy. Always defending and protecting sovereignty. 

You are still loved by many… today your story will be told.

Love your Great Granddaughter,

Margo

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This May, we are highlighting our coverage of Indian boarding schools and their generational impact on Native families and Native communities. Giving survivors of boarding schools and their descendants the opportunity to share their stories is an important step toward healing — not just because they are speaking, but because they are being heard. Their stories must be heard. Help our efforts to make sure Native stories and Native voices are heard in 2024. Please consider a recurring donation to help fund our ongoing coverage of Indian boarding schools. Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous-centered journalism. Thank you.

About The Author
Levi Rickert
Author: Levi RickertEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Levi "Calm Before the Storm" Rickert (Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation) is the founder, publisher and editor of Native News Online. Rickert was awarded Best Column 2021 Native Media Award for the print/online category by the Native American Journalists Association. He serves on the advisory board of the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association. He can be reached at [email protected].