Mollie Burkhart is the principal character of the narrative about the Osage murders because she not only survives, but she is also directly related to the story’s victims and villains. However, because of the way historical evidence is recorded in the early twentieth century, there is little information that is known about her directly. When Tom White takes over the case, he is surprised that the previous agents did not spend more time interviewing Mollie, especially as many of her relatives are victims in the Reign of Terror. Mollie’s comparative silence might seem to reflect stereotypes of the silent “Indian,” but her silence is better understood as an index of the prejudices, gender, and race, that shaped the period. What readers do learn, though, is of a woman committed to her family and her cultural traditions. Mollie’s determination to get justice for her murdered relatives is an extension of this commitment. 

Born before the Osage people became wealthy in 1886, Mollie is raised according in a more traditional manner and retains many of the Osage ways into adulthood, despite having spent time at a U.S. government school learning American customs and speaking English. Molly even hopes to marry according to Osage tradition, and does have a brief youthful marriage to Henry Roan, but she falls in love with Ernest and lets her feelings guide her choice. She loves her three children deeply, even sending away her youngest daughter to protect her from harm as members of her family die suddenly and suspiciously. Throughout, Mollie’s actions reveal a compassionate and caring character. In the book’s final section, Mollie’s granddaughter, Margie, shares a memory her father had of his mother caring for him when he had an earache. Even though she knows she is not her mother’s favorite daughter, Mollie cares for Lizzie as well. Never a lavish spender, Mollie is fond of throwing parties, even entertaining her husband’s openly racist relatives in her home.  

Mollie remains committed to her husband Ernest after his arrest for participating in the conspiracies against the family. In one of the few instances Mollie speaks, she expresses both her determination that the guilty be punished and her continued conviction that Ernest was not one of them. She writes Ernest brief consoling letters in prison. But her attitude changes once he changes his plea to guilty. As he is taken away after sentencing, her expression is described as “cold.” Despite her significant suffering across the book, Mollie’s life ends more happily. She falls in love and remarries. Equally important, she successfully sues to have her guardianship removed. When she dies in 1937, she has freed herself fully from the web of conspiracy.