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What Arizona audiences can take away from 'Killers of the Flower Moon'

Friday, director Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” premieres in theaters. It depicts how, following the discovery of oil on their land, members of the Osage tribe in Oklahoma are murdered for their rights to it.

Tory Fodder manages the Indigenous Governance Program at University of Arizona. He said the film covers one chapter of a much bigger story that other Native peoples have lived through.

“It may not be dramatized on the silver screen in the same way that the Osage situation is,” said Fodder, “but it is important and it was as impactful to those people that lived in those homelands.”

That story is the westward expansion of the United States.

“Government by the consent of the governed,” Fodder said. “That is not something that, historically, has been extended to Indigenous peoples.”

As people take their seats, he hopes Arizona moviegoers realize that “each Indigenous population within the state had a similar history.”

“I mean, we can talk about boarding school policies,” said Fodder. “We can talk about loss of language. We can talk about loss of language and culture, etcetera.”

Those policies, he noted, are ones people continue to grapple with.

He said the story ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ tells may be hard to watch but that it's important to take in, learn from, and act on: “How can we empower Indigenous populations now?”

“I don’t want people to feel bad and feel like, ‘Oh, it was my ancestors, and we did all this,’” he said of non-Native viewers. “That’s not the point. The point is, this is what happened historically. How can we go from here and be better?”

Fodder says that can start with learning more, and opening doors at the policy level to give tribes more decision making power. He also hopes the movie generates interest in learning more about this part of history and more stories like this one.

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Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.