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SDSU to host ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Community Read events

"Killers of the Flower Moon" cover.

A series of events featuring the bestselling book “Killers of the Flower Moon” this semester will culminate April 5, when author David Grann will give a lecture on the South Dakota State University campus. 

The events — Community Read discussions, a free movie screening and the author lecture — are all part of SDSU’s School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies’ first-ever Community Read. 

First, readers are invited to take part in three Community Read discussions, led by School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies Director Jason McEntee and English professor Sharon Smith. Two discussions are planned on the SDSU campus in Brookings, and one will be in Sioux Falls. 

The first discussion at SDSU is at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 in Bailey Rotunda D at SDSU, with virtual access via Zoom.

The second discussion is set for 6:30 p.m. March 18, at the Siouxland Libraries downtown library in Sioux Falls. Event and registration information can be found at the Siouxland Libraries.

The third discussion is at 7 p.m. March 19, back at Bailey Rotunda D at SDSU, with virtual access via Zoom.

Then at 5 p.m. March 27, a free screening of the movie based on the book will be held at Brookings Cinema 8. 

Grann’s talk, “‘Killers of the Flower Moon’: The Arc of Justice,” is set for 7 p.m. April 5 at the Oscar Larson Performing Arts Center. 

Ticket/registration information for the movie screening and Grann’s lecture will be announced soon. 

McEntee said copies of the book, including young adult versions, have been purchased with grant funds and distributed for checkout at the Brookings Public Library, SDSU’s Briggs Library and some Siouxland Public Libraries branches. 

Copies have also been provided to other areas of campus, the Brookings Area Chamber of Commerce, Brookings High School and Mickelson Middle School, Washington High School in Sioux Falls, and 17 tribal schools and colleges. More than 600 books have been distributed, with many in school libraries and used as part of class curriculum. 

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is set in the 1920s, after oil was discovered beneath the land of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma. The Osage, who had become the richest people per capita in the world, began dying under mysterious circumstances, with a series of murders disenfranchising the tribe. 

As the death toll rose, the newly created FBI took up the case and struggled to unravel the mystery. A new undercover team, including a Native American agent, infiltrated the region and together with the Osage began to expose one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history. 

McEntee said his main goal with the Community Read events is promoting literacy, especially when it includes education about atrocities from the past. He cited the importance of having difficult conversations about historical events in the face of adversity. 

“The book has so many themes to explore, and we think that’s really appealing to a lot of different audiences,” he said. Those themes include the systemic genocide of American Indians, the birth of the FBI and modern forensics, natural resources, politics and political corruption, organized crime, and tribal politics and traditions. 

McEntee said it took a lot of support from a lot of different parties to host the events and bring Grann to campus. Work to do so started last May. After organizers confirmed they could get Grann to SDSU, the other plans started falling into place. 

The Community Read events are being sponsored by the South Dakota Humanities Council, and various other campus partners: the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; the Wokini Initiative; the College of Education and Human Sciences; the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College; the School of Psychology, Sociology and Rural Studies; the School of American and Global Studies; the School of Communication and Journalism; Hilton M. Briggs Library; Continuing and Distance Education; the Graduate School; the Center for Professional Enrichment and Teaching Excellence; Fishback Financial/First Bank & Trust and the School of English and Interdisciplinary Studies.