Last Surviving Plains Indian War Chief Dies at 102


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