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Joseph Medicine Crow (1913 - 2016)

Getty Images / AFP / Jewel Samad

Joseph Medicine Crow (1913 - 2016)

Joseph Medicine Crow, the respected historian of Montana’s Crow tribe, died Sunday in Billings, Montana, according to multiple news sources, including The Associated Press. He was 102.

No cause of death was immediately available.

Medicine Crow’s writings on Native Amercan history and reservation culture were widely acclaimed. But the last surviving war chief of his tribe was known best for his writings and lectures on the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

On Aug. 12, 2009, Medicine Crow received the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest U.S. civilian honor – from President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House. Other honorees included Stephen Hawking, Billie Jean King, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Sidney Poitier.

In 2001, during a June 24 dedication of a “Peace Memorial” in Garryowen, Montana, near the site where the Battle of the Little Bighorn began, the tribal historian spoke of unity. Joined by other Native Americans and assorted guests at the ceremony, he urged reconciliation and unity among all races of people.


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Medicine Crow was born Oct. 27, 1913, near Lodge Grass, Montana. He received a bachelor’s degree from Linfield College in 1938. The following year, he received a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Southern California.

A U.S. Army veteran, Medicine Crow served from 1943 to 1946. He was a recipient of a Bronze Star, as well as the Legion d’honneur.

He authored several books, including “Crow Migration Story,” “Medicine Crow,” “From the Heart of Crow Country,” and a handbook of Crow tribe laws and treaties.

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