The Osage Nation made sure their presence was deeply felt at the 96th Academy Awards last night. Several Osage members attended the ceremony, supporting history-making Best Actress nominee Lily Gladstone, and some took the stage to perform the Oscar-nominated song, “Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People).” Many can remember the six-minute track from the last scene of “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

While the rendition was beautiful, it was meaningful in more ways than one. As one X user noted, it was illegal for Native Americans in the U.S. to practice and express their religious ceremonies prior to the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act in 1978.

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Another noted that “The symbol of having Native musicians and singers on the Oscars’ stage performing a song in Osage is quite incredible.” Watch a part of the performance here:

Osage Nation tribal member and low-income-housing director Scott George composed “Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People),” which was nominated for Best Original Song alongside tracks by stars like Billie Eilish and Mark Ronson. George, who has performed traditional Osage music for decades, told The Hollywood Reporter, “Our music is probably thousands of years old. For it to be recognized maybe for the first time ever, it’s overwhelming in that sense.”

mitú spoke to Osage member Christopher Côté, who served as language consultant on “Killers of The Flower Moon,” to talk about the tribe’s major presence at this year’s Academy Awards.

“Killers of The Flower Moon” language consultant said “the Osage presence made the film great”

Côté, who attended Academy Awards events this year like the Apple Original Films Oscars celebration, told mitú: “The Oscars was an amazing experience.”

“I’m proud of all of the work that we as Osage people did to make ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ possible,” he added. “The Osage presence made the film great. It is something I’ll always remember.”

The language consultant also spoke about George’s meaningful composition for the film, “Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People).” Côté stated, “The song written and performed by Scott George is profound.”

“[It] is the same fashion as the songs I grew up dancing to at our ceremony, called ‘Ilonschka,'” he recalled. As per AAA Native Arts, the Osage Nation’s ‘I-Lon-schka’ are drum ceremonies where members dance as a community. While the name literally means “playground of the eldest son,” this kind of ceremony may take on a spiritual significance for members.

As Côté shared with us, the lyrics of the Oscar-nominated song “Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)” translate to: “All the Osage stand up, God made this.”

Oscar nominee Scott George spoke about his “intention” behind the song

Composer George explained to The Hollywood Reporter that director Martin Scorsese personally requested a song from him for the movie’s last scene.

In fact, Scorsese felt particularly inspired after attending an Osage Nation ceremonial dance. However, George stated there was a slight issue with using his tribe’s music: “Because that’s our ceremonial [music], we didn’t know how we were going to deliver that. We don’t really allow cameras in there.”

So, his solution was to make a completely new song, one that served a variety of purposes. “Our intention was… after the movie’s over, we could use it to honor our own people whenever something comes up,” George stated.

“We’re going to place this song on the drum, which means it’s public at that point, that anybody can sing it,” he added.

Moreover, when speaking about what the song means to him, George told KOCO News 5: “From my heart, I want to say that my people have suffered through all of this… I want you to stand up. I want you to be proud and acknowledge the fact that God got us here, got us this far.”

He also hopes that people begin to listen to the Osage Nation’s music more.

“I’ve been singing for over 40 years. All my life, I’ve always tried to introduce people to it,” he stated. “If somebody were to give it a little time to get used to it, they might come to understand it a little bit better.”

Here is the full version of George and several Osage singers performing “Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)” at the Oscars: