OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The “reign of terror” as it’s called is a dark spot in Oklahoma and our country’s history. The “Killers of the Flower Moon” has brought the situation to light recently, but in the state archives sit thousands of pages telling the story as it all unfolded.
“This entire experience is just reminding us how vital and important archives are not only to preserving history of our state, but also the actions of our government,” said Natalie Currie, Director of the Department of Libraries in Oklahoma as well as State Librarian and Archivist.
The roughly 100-year-old documents detail the reign of terror on Osage Native Americans back in the 1920s. Hundreds were murdered over the span of more than a decade, all to try and steal their land and wealth.
“The work of state archives like ours are foundational to democracy, because, again, it is preserving the work of state government, but just as important as preservation is the access component,” Currie said.
Currie said her archivists spent about two years digitizing the documents. They’ve been digitized for about a year. There are about 22 items online for anyone to see with thousands of detailed pages.
“This would be an excellent example of how our archivists really look at what’s going on, what’s making news, what’s important to the people, and then getting that digitized and online so people can see for themselves,” she said.
According to Currie, the digitization and access allows research from primary sources so people can learn from the raw material. They detail everything from court transcriptions, notes taken by Oklahoma’s attorney general at the time to meeting’s of citizens wanting investigations into what was going on.
Currie didn’t understate the importance of the access to it all.
“That illustrates the importance of archives,” she said. “If we did not exist and collect and preserve and then provide access to these materials, then historians like Mr. Grann would not be able to tell these types of stories.”
David Grann is the author of the book “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Currie said he spent some time at the archives looking at those materials. A link is posted in this story if you would like to view those documents yourself.
Visit digitalprairie.ok.gov for more.