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Ojibwe costume designer for 'Killers of the Flower Moon' sues Apple Studios following racial discrimination complaint

Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Killers of the Flower Moon."
Melinda Sue Gordon
Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio in "Killers of the Flower Moon."

Hoffman, who is an enrolled member of the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, has worked as a costume designer in the entertainment industry for two decades.

One of her most recent projects was Killers of the Flower Moon, which was filmed largely in Pawhuska and details the murders of Osage people in the 1920s for their oil-rich land.

She said her employment experience for this project was “mentally and emotionally distressing.”

Hoffman published “Designing for Killers of the Flower Moon: My Traumatizing Working Experience,” describes “incessant bullying, mistreatment, discrimination, continuous harassment and retaliation.” Among some of the experiences Hoffman discussed in the publication were glares, a racial slur, derogatory comments to Hoffman and Indigenous people — including Osage people — and a refusal to hire an Osage production assistant.

Hoffman filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for discrimination against Apple Studios LLC, AppleTV+, and Apple Inc. In December 2022, the parties agreed upon a confidential settlement.

Since its release, the film and its team have received many nominations and awards. Despite the film's success, Hoffman said her work — like the jacket Leonard DiCaprio wore in the movie — was not acknowledged.

According to the lawsuit, Hoffman was excluded from the Oscar costume design nomination because of retaliation for the previous complaint.

It also stated that Hoffman was initially listed as the First Assistant Costume Designer during the nominations for Costume Designer’s Guild Awards, but her former boss, Jacqueline West, removed the title.

Hoffman challenged that, and the Costume Designer’s Guild found the title removal wrong, upholding Hoffman as Assistant Costume Designer.

The recent suit was filed on May 22, and the Counsel for the defendants — Jacqueline West, Apple Studios, Apple, Inc., and the Costume Designer’s Guild — has not been publicly announced.

Copyright 2024 KOSU

Sarah Liese reports on Indigenous Affairs for KOSU.