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Indigenous Costume Designer Sues Creators of ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ for Alleged Erasure and Discrimination

The creators of “Killers of the Flower Moon,” a 2023 Martin Scorcese film celebrated for its portrayal of real Native American history, are now facing a lawsuit from an Indigenous costume designer. 

Kristi Marie Hoffman, an enrolled tribal citizen of the Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, worked for nearly a year researching, sourcing, and designing the Native clothing worn in the movie. Last week, she filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that her name and her work were discredited from the film’s promotion in retaliation for a previous complaint she filed for racial discrimination on set.

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The lawsuit lists Apple Studios, Apple Inc, the Costume Designer’s Guild, and the lead costume designer on the production, Jaqueline West, as defendants.

“During the course of her employment and on set, Hoffman experiences instances of racial discrimination that affected her mentally and emotionally,” the lawsuit notes. 

Hoffman had filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in July of 2021 for the alleged discrimination, which was confidently settled in December 2022.

“Killers of the Flower Moon,” which was released in October 2023, was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, seven Golden Globe Awards, 12 Critics Choice Awards, and three SAG Awards. Included among its nominations was a Costume Designer’s Guild Award for Excellence in Period Film, a nomination that initially listed Hoffman as the First Assistant Costume Designer — a title that was later removed, the lawsuit alleges.

The film was also nominated for an Oscar for its costume design, though Hoffman wasn’t listed as a contributor.

“Despite Hoffman being the primary ACD (First Assistant Costume Designer) and completing most of the research and costume design for the film, the Defendants not only specifically excluded her involvement in its promotion but also completely ignored her work and instead represented to the public at large that the costume design work, her work, was the product of West and a consultant on the film, Julie O’Keefe,” the lawsuit claims.

Interviews and articles in Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, The Hollywood Reporter, and Los Angeles Times highlight the film’s “impeccable costuming,” but none of the reporting mentions Hoffman or her work.

Apple did not respond to Native News Online’s request for comment by press time.

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About The Author

Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Senior Reporter

Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter covering Indian health, the environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the lead reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.

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