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Last Surviving Plains Indian War Chief Dies at 102

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Joseph Medicine Crow, the last surviving war chief of Montana’s Crow Tribe, has died at the age of 102.

According to NBC News, the celebrated historian passed away at a hospice facility in Billings, Mont. on April 3. Medicine Crow was known for his incredible bravery during World War II, where he fearlessly completed the four tasks necessary to become a war chief. These tasks included touching an enemy without killing him, stealing an enemy’s horse, taking an enemy’s weapon and leading a successful war party. During his time at war, he also secretly wore war paint under his uniform and a sacred eagle feather beneath his helmet.

With Medicine Crow’s death, the world has also lost “the last living person with a direct oral history from a participant of the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876,” according to the National Parks Service. After the war, he became a tribal historian and anthropologist, and wrote many works on the Battle and his tribe’s history.

“Joe was a Crow War Chief, veteran, elder, historian, author, and educator,” Montana Gov. Steve Bullock said in a statement. “His legacy will forever serve as an inspiration for all Native Americans — and all Montanans.”

Click below to watch a segment from Ken Burns’ 2007 documentary “The War,” which tells part of Medicine Crow’s incredible story.

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Last Surviving Plains Indian War Chief Dies at 102