Osage Nation Singers Earn Thunderous Standing Ovation for Stirring Performance at the Oscars

At the 96th Academy Awards, the Osage Nation captured the hearts of the audience with a riveting live performance that earned them a standing ovation. Composer Scott George, alongside the Osage Tribal Singers, adorned in traditional ceremonial dress, delivered a breathtaking rendition of “Wahzhazhe (A Song For My People).” This Oscar-nominated masterpiece, crafted for the climactic scene of Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” was performed against the backdrop of a dawning sun. As dozens of Osage members danced and sang around a drum, they ignited the audience, bringing everyone to their feet in admiration.

Scott George, hailing from Del City, Oklahoma, made history as the first Indigenous writer to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Original Song, and notably, as the first member of the Osage Nation to be nominated for an Academy Award. In a heartfelt conversation with The Oklahoman before the Oscars, George expressed his hope that their performance on stage would showcase the resilience and enduring spirit of the Osage people, a community that has triumphed over adversity while preserving their rich heritage.

In an interview with The Osage News, George shared insights into the profound message behind the song, which translates to “stand up” and “God made it for us.” He reflected on the trials faced by the Osage people, as depicted in the film, and the ongoing challenges they encounter today. George emphasized the divine guidance that has sustained the Osage Nation, urging his people to take pride in their identity and the path carved out for them by a higher power.

Martin Scorsese, in a behind-the-scenes featurette, spoke about his decision to conclude “Killers of the Flower Moon” with a piece of music that encapsulates the essence of the Osage people. He aimed to leave the audience with a lasting impression of the Osage’s remarkable resilience, which he believes is best represented through their music.

Despite the Oscar for Best Original Song ultimately being awarded to Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell for “What Was I Made For?” from “Barbie,” the performance by the Osage Nation at the Academy Awards remains a powerful testament to their enduring spirit and cultural legacy.