Joseph Medicine Crow Born October 27, 1913 (age 98) Near Lodge Grass, Montana Nationality Crow Nation, United States of America Occupation tribal historian, anthropologist, authorCrow Chief receives Medal of Freedom As a warrior and living legend, history flows through Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow High Bird. Born on a reservation and raised by traditional grandparents, he became the first member of his tribe to earn a master’s degree. For his valiant service in World War II, he was awarded the status of Crow War Chief, and his renowned studies of the First Americans and contributions to cultural and historical preservation have been critical to our understanding of America’s history. Joe Medicine Crow is a symbol of strength and survival, and the United States honors him for his dedication to this country and to all Native Americans. – White House press statement Chief Joseph Medicine Crow looks at his 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom after President Barack Obama placed it around his neck on Aug. 12 during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. WASHINGTON (AP) – A 95-year-old Crow Indian who went into battle wearing war paint under his World War II uniform has been awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor. Wearing a traditional headdress, Joe Medicine Crow on Aug. 12 received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House. The award was clasped around his neck by President Barack Obama. “Dr. Medicine Crow’s life reflects not only the warrior spirit of the Crow people, but America’s highest ideals,” Obama said as he introduced him and called him “a good man” in the Crow language. Medicine Crow broke tradition and briefly spoke after Obama gave him the medal, telling the president he was “highly honored” to receive it. Other recipients this year were Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, physicist Stephen Hawking, retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and 12 others - actors, athletes, activists, scientists and humanitarians. The president met Medicine Crow during a campaign stop last year when Obama, then a U.S. senator, was adopted as an honorary member of the Crow tribe. In 1939, Medicine Crow became the first of his tribe to receive a master’s degree, in anthropology. He is the oldest member of the Crow and the tribe’s sole surviving war chief – an honor bestowed for a series of accomplishments during World War II, including hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier whose life Medicine Crow spared. After the war, he became tribal historian for the Crow and lectured extensively on the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Medicine Crow’s grandfather served as a scout for the doomed forces of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer. Medicine Crow was nominated for the presidential medal by Sen. Jon Tester of Montana and former Sen. Alan Simpson of Wyoming. Joseph Medicine Crow (or Joe Medicine Crow, full name Joseph Medicine Crow-High Bird, born October 27, 1913) is a Crow historian and author. He is also an enrolled member of the Crow Nation of Native Americans. His writings on Native American history and reservation culture are considered seminal works, but he is best known for his writings and lectures concerning the Battle of Little Big Horn. He is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Bronze Star Medal, and the Légion d'honneur. He is a founding member of the Traditional Circle of Indian Elders & Youth. World War II and becoming the last war chief of the Crow Tribe Joseph Medicine Crow joined the army, becoming a scout in the 103rd Infantry Division. Whenever he went into battle, he wore his war paint beneath his uniform and a sacred eagle feather beneath his helmet. Medicine Crow completed all four tasks required to become a war chief. He touched a living enemy soldier (1) and disarmed an enemy (2) when he turned a corner and found himself face to face with a young German soldier: “The collision knocked the German's weapon to the ground. Mr. [Medicine] Crow lowered his own weapon and the two fought hand-to-hand. In the end Mr. Crow got the best of the German, grabbing him by the neck and choking him. He was going to kill the German soldier on the spot when the man screamed out "momma." Mr. Crow then let him go.” He also led a successful war party (3) and stole an enemy horse (4), making a midnight raid to steal the horses from a battalion of German officers (as he rode off, he sang a traditional Crow honor song.) He is the last member of the Crow tribe to become a war chief. Of his story, noted documentarian Ken Burns said, "The story of Joseph Medicine Crow is something I've wanted to tell for 20 years." Mr. Medicine Crow was interviewed and appeared in the 2007 Ken Burns PBS series The War, describing his World War II service. Tribal Spokesman After serving in the army, he returned to the Crow Agency. In 1948, he was appointed tribal historian and anthropologist. Now well into his 90s, he remains active writing and lecturing. In 1999, he addressed the United Nations. He is a frequent guest speaker at Little Bighorn College and the Little Big Horn Battlefield Museum and has appeared in several documentaries about the battle. A noted author, his books have included Crow Migration Story, Medicine Crow, the Handbook of the Crow Indians Law and Treaties, Crow Indian Buffalo Jump Techniques, and From the Heart of Crow Country. He also authored a children’s book entitled Brave Wolf and the Thunderbird. Education He received a bachelor degree from Linfield College in 1938. He attended the University of Southern California, earning a master’s degree in anthropology in 1939. He was the first member of the Crow tribe to obtain a master’s degree. His thesis, The Effects of European Culture Contact upon the Economic, Social, and Religious Life of the Crow Indians, has become one of the most widely cited documents concerning Crow culture. He received an honorary doctorate from Rocky Mountain College in 1999. He received an honorary doctorate at USC in 2003. Honors On June 25, 2008, he received two military decorations, the Bronze Star and the Légion d'honneur. On July 17, 2008, Senators Max Baucus, Jon Tester, and Mike Enzi introduced a bill to award him the Congressional Gold Medal; Crow's name does not appear on an official list of Congressional Gold Medal recipients. His book Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond, written about his life, was chosen by the National Council for the Social Studies as a "Notable Tradebook for Young People" in 2007. Joseph Medicine Crow received the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the U.S.A.'s highest civilian honor) from President Barack Obama on August 12, 2009. Quotes “As a member of the Crow tribe, and as a professional researcher, I think I’m doing quite a nice job of telling the Crow Indian story in the proper ways.” “No one wins [in war]. Both sides lose. The Indians, so called hostiles, won the battle of the day, but lost their way of life.”
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