Native American tribe in new Dicaprio film has link with French town

We explore surprising ties between the Osage Nation and Montauban in Tarn-et-Garonne

An image from the film Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which was presented at Cannes
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A new Martin Scorsese film Killers of the Flower Moon, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is centred on the indigenous Osage tribe in Oklahoma – but the tribe also has a special link with a town in south-west France.

In 1827, six Osage people travelled to Europe, where they met France’s King Charles X and took part in theatre shows and other events.

However, when interest in them waned, they fell on hard times and in 1829 three arrived in Montauban in Tarn-et-Garonne to seek help from Bishop Louis-Guillaume Dubourg, a former bishop in Louisiana who had sent missions to the Osage Nation.

Photo: A painting from Montauban artist Rosendo Li shows members of the Osage tribe crossing the town’s Pont-Vieux bridge; Credit: Rosendo Li

Locals helped Osage people return home

Former science teacher Jean-Claude Drouilhet, founder of the Oklahoma-Occitania association, set up to maintain links between the communities, said: “Collections were organised among the people of Montauban and the money allowed them to return home.”

Mr Drouilhet had always been interested in Native American culture for its relationship to ecology and discovered the local link through a magazine article.

“In 1989, I wrote to the tribe and offered the descendants of these original visitors to partake in cultural exchanges,” he said.

Twinned towns and visits

The links have existed ever since, with Montauban, for example, leaving a parcel of land in its Jardin des Plantes as a gift to the Osage tribe, now visible in sculptures and with a plaque.

Since 1999, Montauban has been twinned with Pawhuska in Oklahoma, allowing many members of the 10,000-strong Osage Nation to spend time in south-west France.

Montauban mayor invited to Cannes

Montauban’s mayor and deputy mayor were present in Cannes for an indigenous fashion show, alongside film crew members to coincide with the presentation of Killers of the Flower Moon. They were invited by Osage designer Dante Biss-Grayson.

Mr Drouilhet also runs a Facebook page called ‘Killers of the flower moon & Montauban’ and was recently surprised to see a Leonardo DiCaprio requesting to join. Now the initial shock has passed, he is not convinced it is the actor himself.

“The request was renewed several times in a few days. I think the real DiCaprio has more to do than ask to join a Facebook group of which he is already a member!”

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