“The day of using Gunsmoke and Bonanza portraying us is over. We have a voice, and we use it,” said Julia O’Keefe, the Osage Nation costume consultant for Apple Original Films‘ Killers of the Flower Moon.
During the panel for the Martin Scorsese-directed movie at Deadline’s Contenders Film: Los Angeles, O’Keefe and costume designer Jacqueline West spoke about their dedication to depicting the Osage Nation in the most authentic way possible.
“After long conversations with Marty, I really got the sense that it had to be absolutely authentic,” West said, detailing some of the extensive research she conducted in order to construct the costumes for the film, down to the beadwork, embroidery and color patterns.
It began at her home in Deadwood, SD, where West said she has an extensive Native American library from previous films she’s worked on. However, she said she had never worked with the Osage Nation before, which she called “unique” for a plains tribe. So, she was required to step up her research.
She utilized the Carnegie library in Deadwood and, eventually, stumbled upon home videos made by the Osage people during the 1920s — the time period in which the film is set. This was a stunning revelation, considering the price of such technology at that time. According to West, it would have cost $1,800 per minute to capture that footage.
“Probably only the Osage and Royal Family in England could afford to make home movies in this period,” she said. “But because of that, they documented their lives, their travel. That was magnificent.”
West said she also leaned heavily on O’Keefe for her expertise as a member of the Osage Nation herself. The women consulted with and hired many Osage artists to work on the film.
“If you really want authentic stories told, then you need to go into the artisans of any nation, not just ours, any nation,” O’Keefe explained. “Because those are some of the best researchers and storytellers of their next piece of art that they’re producing.”
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