The 2024 Academy Awards nominations have brought a wave of excitement and pride, especially for the groundbreaking recognition of Indigenous artists in the film industry. Among the highlights are the nominations for "Killers of the Flower Moon," a film based on the book of the same name by David Grann, recounting the true story of a series of murders of Osage (Ni Okašką) tribal members and their relations in the Osage Nation after oil was discovered on tribal land. The film has garnered a remarkable nine nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director for Martin Scorsese.
Osage composer Scott George's evocative track “Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People)” is contending for Best Original Song. George expressed his gratitude and honor for the nomination, emphasizing the importance of representing Indigenous voices and stories through music. This nomination is not just a personal triumph for George but a significant moment for Indigenous artists in the entertainment industry.
The film's score, composed by the late Robbie Robertson, a Cayuga (Gayogo̱hó꞉nǫʼ) and Mohawk (Kanienʼkehá꞉ka) songwriter best known as a member of The Band, has been posthumously nominated for Best Original Score. Robertson's passing in August 2023 makes this nomination all the more poignant. His profound impact on the music and film industry continues to resonate, and this nomination serves as a testament to his lasting legacy.
Lily Gladstone, of Piegan Blackfeet (Siksikaitsitapi) and Nez Perce (Nimíipuu) descent, has been nominated for Best Actress for her portrayal in the film. Her nomination is historic, marking her as the first Native American person to be nominated for a Best Actor or Actress Academy Award. Two First Nations men, Chief Dan George (Little Big Man) and Graham Greene (Dances With Wolves) were previously nominated under the Best Supporting Actor category, and Cherokee actor Wes Studi was presented an Honorary Award in 2019.
Gladstone shared her deep emotional connection to the film and its nominations, particularly Robertson's. She recalled watching Robertson's nomination announcement with her father, which was incredibly special. "My dad introduced me to Robbie Robertson as a musician, which was the whole reason I even knew who Martin Scorsese was as a filmmaker," she said. "My dad told me about their friendship and, as a 10-year-old, I remember him saying, 'You know, one day he’s going to make his Indian movie because of his friendship with Robbie.' So it was cool to remind him of that."
"Killers of the Flower Moon" has significantly impacted this awards season, with other nominations including Best Supporting Actor for Robert De Niro, Production Design, Costume Design, and Cinematography. The film's success at the Oscars is a powerful statement about the increasing recognition and appreciation of Indigenous stories and talent in mainstream cinema. The nominations of Scott George, Robbie Robertson, and Lily Gladstone are not just personal achievements but symbolize a broader shift towards inclusivity and diversity in the film industry, hopefully opening doors for more Indigenous artists to tell their stories on the global stage.