The Murder of Anna Brown – Joseph Urban


Throughout our readings we have discovered that crime on Native reservations is a serious issues haunting Natives. One particular case that highlights the injust circumstances Natives must live in is the murder of Anna Brown. Anna Brown was a Osage Native American. He body was found decomposed in May 1921 with a bullet hole in the back of her head. Furthermore, her mother, cousin, brother-in-law, and sister were all killed over the next 2 years. 76 years later justice was served an a man named William Hale, but why would a white man do such a thing to a Native? During this time oil was found on the Osage Indian Reservation and Hale’s greed led him to take action. If Hale could kill Anna, her mother, then her two sisters in order all of the head rights would be passed to his nephew that was married to Anna. ¬†Hale also threatened and ¬†paid off the Indians in the reservation not to talk which is why the case took 76 years to finally convict him of the murders.


Above: Anna Brown

Such actions by Hale goes to show the state of Natives and especially ones living on reservations. In this case the Indians were seen as a financial opportunity, rather than people. Also, the financial state of the Indians on the reservation led them to accept bribes for their safety from an overpowering white man, and to survive financially.


Above: William Hale

In our readings we constantly see the affects whites have on the Natives, and how they are treated as animals, even though this was their home first. Alcohol usually plays a huge part in unjust trades and deals for white individuals to gain from the Indians, but in this case it was the overpowering force of Hale that forced the Indians to fold. Ever since Natives were colonized by Europeans their ability to live just lives has been threatened. William Hales murder for self wealth is just one of many examples that Natives must deal with, even 200 years after Europeans initial colonization.


Above: William Hale



2 thoughts on “The Murder of Anna Brown – Joseph Urban

  1. Kelly Shelton

    This entry is very insightful, Joe. It’s sad that the rest of the world hasn’t taken a lesson in this, but it’s something that happens time and time again throughout humanity. We exploit those who cannot or will not fight for themselves. Look at what is happening overseas daily, feeding our materialistic society. There are stories about notes begging for help appearing in Saks Fifth Avenue Handbags, or in cheap plastic Halloween decorations that are coming out of China. The poor workers are being exploited by wealthier people because there is no other jobs. You are pretty much a farmer or an industry worker. We Americans hear these stories, yet we still have our tablets and iPhones. It also pains me to say that I am as guilty as anyone of this.

    I wish the Native Americans were just an anomaly. The world has just gotten better at hiding things like this.

  2. Levi Dalton Opsatnic

    I’d like to first thank you for bringing light to this situation as I believe it lies in direct accordance with some of the absurd white behavior that we have been exposed to throughout this class. I have never heard of this instance, however, upon reading I was almost immediately appalled by the incident. I find it quite disgusting how frequently white people have found ways to capitalize on Native Americans and reduce them to, in my opinion, something less than an animal. Unfortunately, as we have seen, this is way too common of an event in Native American life and your description is certainly no exception to that case.

    One aspect of this situation that I found particularly troubling is the fact that Hale had payed other Natives not to speak their words on this case. I find this to be such a concerning topic because it appears that Hale is effectively capitalizing on the Natives lack of capital, and in turn is pinning Natives against Natives. As we have seen in class, Native life is usually quite close-knit, and for Hale to create such a disturbance in their cohesive form of life and essentially force Natives to choose whites over their own people is about as ludicrous as it gets. Like most things, though, it seems as this is just one tiny drop in the very large bucket of whites capitalizing on Natives, and as most would agree, it is truly a shame.

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