The 81st Golden Globes Awards, one of the film industry’s most prestigious annual awards celebrations, was one for the history books. Lily Gladstone, the up-and-coming Blackfeet, and Nez Perce actress, was awarded for her lead as Mollie Burkhart in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” making her the first Indigenous person to win a Golden Globe for Best Actress.
In her acceptance speech, Gladstone spoke in her Blackfeet language as well as in the Osage language at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. In her Blackfeet language, Gladstone said, “Hello my relatives. My name is Eagle Woman. I come from the Blackfeet Confederacy.”
“I’m so grateful that I can speak even a little bit of my language, which I’m not fluent enough up here,” she continued in English. “Because in this business, Native actors used to speak their lines in English, and then sound mixers would run them backward to accomplish Native languages on camera.
“A big old way-mi-nah-wahzhazhi Osage Nation,” Gladsone also said, meaning Thank you Osage people. While she spoke, her captions read on live television: “Global language.”
“This is a historic win,” Gladstone said on Sunday, January 7, 2024, as she accepted her Golden Globe on live television. “It doesn’t belong to just me. I’m holding it with all of my beautiful sisters. 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 in our stories, told by ourselves, in our own words, with tremendous allies and tremendous trust.”
When Gladstone landed a nomination for her lead role as Mollie Burkhart in “Killers of the Flower Moon”, she was the first Indigenous person to earn a nomination for a lead role. Gladstone’s portrayal has recently earned her a best-actress win from the New York Film Critics Circle on January 4, and nominees for the Academy Awards are expected on January 23.
If Gladstone is nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award on Jan. 23, she’ll be the first Native person to earn a competitive Oscar nomination. The diﬀerence between the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards is that the Academy Awards focused specifically on film.
While no films produced, written, or directed by Native people were nominated for the 2024 Golden Globes, Killers of the Flower Moon earned sweeping nominations in seven categories including Best Director, Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Screenplay, and Best Original Score, which is composed by the late Mohawk musician Robbie Robertson. Gladstone’s category was the only one to win.
Killers of the Flower Moon centers around the targeted murders of Osage Indian people after oil deposits were discovered on their lands in 1920s Osage County, Oklahoma, near Fairfax and Pawhuska. Dozens of Osage people with ties to oil-rich land were targeted and killed by white men on Osage’s lands in the early 1900s, leaving crimes committed on Indian lands, such as Indian reservations, uninvestigated. Federal Indian law, including criminal prosecution on Indian lands, looked very different in 1920s Oklahoma from today. Back then, serious crimes, such as murders committed on Indian lands, were not investigated by the state, in this case, Oklahoma, but were rather investigated and prosecuted by the federal government. Criminal jurisdiction fell in the hands of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) and little funding was appropriated for Indian Country investigations.
With a budget of $200 million, it was the most expensive film in Oklahoma history and included many Osage and other Tribal people cast as extras and supporting roles in the film. The film’s story takes influence from the 2017 book “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI” written by David Grann. The film diﬀers from the book, however, in that it includes Osage involvement, and their culture is well presented.
Many publications posted on social media, congratulating Gladstone for her achievement, including Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, Indian Country Today, the Human Rights Campaign, the Daily Beast, Teen Vogue, the Associated Press, The Today Show, The Hollywood Reporter, and many others.
Illuminative, an Indigenous nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing Native people and stories in entertainment and media said on Instagram:
“Beyond mere accolades, Lily’s performance stands as a powerful force combating the erasure of Native people, culture, and communities. Heartfelt congratulations, Lily. We are incredibly proud of you.”