OSAGE NATION, Okla.- “Killers of the Flower Moon” actress Lily Gladstone made history as the first Native American and Indigenous person to win the Golden Globe for best actress for her role in the film on Jan 7. Based on the book of the same name, “Killers of the Flower Moon” tells the true story of the Osage Reign of Terror where Osage people were murdered for their allotments and oil headrights in the 1920s. Gladstone continued to make history on Jan 23 by becoming the first Indigenous woman nominated for an Oscar for actress in a leading role.
Gladstone is Kainai, Amskapi Piikani and Nimíipuu First Nations from the Blackfeet Nation. She played Mollie Burkart in the film, a woman who watches close friends and family get murdered and missing over their family’s allotments.
When Gladstone was announced as the winner of the best actress category, it was a historic moment for not only Osage citizens, but the broader global Indigenous community as well. When it was time to give her acceptance speech, Gladstone opened it by speaking the Blackfeet language. Gladstone credited her mother with keeping the Blackfeet language alive in their home and the classroom growing up. Although Gladstone’s mother is not Blackfeet, she understood the cultural importance of passing down the language to her daughter.
“I’m so grateful that I can speak even a little bit of my language, which I’m not fluent in up here, because in this business, Native actors used to speak their lines in English and then the sound mixers would run them backwards to accomplish Native languages on camera,” Gladstone said in her speech.
Gladstone also acknowledged her family’s support for the achievement, as well as “Killers of the Flower Moon” director Martin Scorsese, costars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear. Gladstone’s speech ended on an inspirational note.
“Thank you to all of you, and this is for every little rez kid, every little urban kid, every little Native kid out there who has a dream, who is seeing themselves represented and out stories told by ourselves in our words, with tremendous allies and tremendous trust with and from each other,” Gladstone said.
Watch Party in Oklahoma
The moment Gladstone made history as the first Native American women to win a Golden Globe was witnessed by many across Indian Country, including Oklahoma. One of the places to watch the Golden Globes awards included a watch party hosted by two Independent Indigenous news outlets; Osage News and Verified News Network (VNN). One of the hosts found at the watch party was VNN Director Brittany Harlow.
The Golden Globes watch party was one of the many events facilitated by VNN and Osage News. In late August 2023 VNN began contracting with Osage News to provide sustainability news developments for the tribe. This occurred around the same time momentum for the “Killers of the Flower Moon” movie started to build. According to Harlow, due to Osage Nation’s involvement in the production, helping promote the importance of the film has been her focus over the past few months.
“There is so much opportunity to maximize that momentum that film is getting and the book is getting, so that has been really out big part of strategic planning of how to incorporate this and help that film and the promotion of it in this best way for Osage news and really the Osage people,” Harlow said.
When the initial announcements were made for the 2024 Golden Globe nominations, Harlow conferred with Osage News Editor Shannon Shaw Duty about hosting a watch party for the Osage community. The idea was to give those that attended a taste of what a Hollywood award show felt like, even from home.
The party provided plenty of glitz and glamor, featuring a red carpet in the front entry with plenty of champagne and appetizers provided for guests. It saw over 100 people in attendance. It was also estimated that at least 20% of those who attended the party were involved with the film’s production in some form. According to Harlow it was a night to remember.
“Just seeing the celebration of these people and how glamorous it was and how dressed up everyone was. It was really an upscale event of celebrating the history and the success of this film but also it was just really empowering to see something so good come out of a tragic series of events,” Harlow said.
This marked Harlow’s first watch party for an award ceremony. According to her, it was quite successful in how it was able to bring people together.
When the announcement at the Golden Globes came for best female actor in a motion picture, the room filled with shouting and cheers. Everyone went wild with standing ovations and applause. Harlow filmed the moment for the Osage News YouTube channel and VNN’s TikTok, which went viral garnishing over 17,000 views.
Harlow is not Indigenous herself, however she has worked with Indigenous communities in this part of the country for a decade. Through VNN Harlow has learned a lot about Indigenous communities, the issues they have faced, as well as the many historical wrongdoings made against them like the Osage Reign of Terror. Even from a non Indigenous perspective, she has found the new wave of Indigenous representation in mainstream media inspiring.
“It’s been really a long time coming for representation for Indigenous people, film and media. That’s something we really tried to push for at VNN, so to see that happen on such a large scale and know that it’s the beginning,” Harlow said.
When Harlow listened to Gladstone’s speech, she was hit with an unexpected wave of emotion. Especially during the part when Gladstone thanked her mother for teaching her the Blackfeet language.
“Talking about her non-native mother was a huge part in her education of language and culture that really hit me in a way of like ‘wow that is such an important part of motherhood is helping passing on your child’s culture even if it’s not your own culture,’” Harlow said.
Harlow’s husband, Kelly Tidwell is a Muscogee (Creek) citizen and is of Cherokee descent. In addition to their children they also foster through the MCN. Harlow’s journey as the parent of Native American children has not always been an easy one in regard to making sure they learn who they are culturally.
Understanding the importance of preserving cultures, Harlow has talked to other non-Native mothers about their place in parenting children who are Native American. “They voiced to me how they could do that and with being respectful and feeling like it’s not their place but as a mother of that it really is their place to do everything that they can for their children,” Harlow said.
When Gladstone took the stage and thanked her own mother for the efforts she made to make sure her daughter embraced the Blackfeet culture, it was a validating moment for Harlow.
“Hearing her talk about the component on such a huge microphone it was really kind of empowering to me as an individual and I know that it also talked other non-native women that are raising Native kids that even that’s not your culture and it’s very important for your children to make that part of your life and your culture,” Harlow said.
Moving forward with the Oscars ceremony approaching in March, Harlow has been in talks with Duty to organize another watch party with the hopes of experiencing history be made again if Gladstone wins the Oscar for actress in a leading role. Osage News may even have the opportunity to attend this year’s Oscars ceremonies as well.