Mary Ellen Moore-Richard (Mary Crow Dog), an American Indian Movement activist and author, died on February 14. She was 58.

Mary Ellen Moore-Richard, who was a member of the American Indian Movement during its militant actions of the 1970s and who, under the name Mary Crow Dog, later wrote a well-received memoir, “Lakota Woman,” died on Feb. 14 in Crystal Lake, Nev. She was 58.

Her death was announced by Rooks Funeral Chapel in Mission, S.D.

Ms. Moore-Richard grew up poor on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota in the late 1950s and ’60s. She was known throughout her life by several names, including Mary Brave Bird and Mary Crow Dog, a reflection of her complex family life and racial identity. Her father, Bill Moore, who was of mostly white descent, left when she was a baby, and she was sometimes mocked and called iyeska — half-breed — as a child.

“Always I waited for the summer, for the prairie sun, the Badlands sun, to tan me and make me into a real skin,” she wrote in “Lakota Woman,” which was written with the journalist and author Richard Erdoes and published in 1990. In 1994, Jane Fonda Films produced a television movie for TNT based on the book.

Ms. Moore-Richard wrote that her stepfather had taught her to drink when she was 10.

“The little settlements we lived in — He Dog, Upper Cut Meat, Parmelee, St. Francis, Belvidere — were places without hope where bodies and souls were being destroyed bit by bit,” she wrote. “Schools left many of us almost illiterate. We were not taught any skills. The land was leased to white ranchers. Jobs were almost nonexistent on the reservation, and outside the res, whites did not hire Indians if they could help it.”

She attended the St. Francis Boarding School on the reservation and, like generations of American Indians, was instructed to practice Christianity and not to speak her native Sioux language. As a teenager, she published a newspaper describing abuse and misconduct at the school, and the school, run by Roman Catholic priests and nuns, punished her for doing so, she said. Some of her school experiences are described in a chapter of her book called “Civilize Them With a Stick.”

By her late teens, Ms. Moore-Richard had joined the American Indian Movement, also known as AIM, a sometimes violent civil rights group that led well-publicized protests, including one in which demonstrators occupied the offices of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington in 1972.

Ms. Moore-Richard, who married one of the group’s leaders, Leonard Crow Dog, gave birth to their first child during AIM’s violent two-month occupation of the town of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, which began in February 1973.

Violence on the reservation continued long after the occupation; her close friend and fellow AIM member Anna Mae Pictou Aquash was found dead in 1976.

“The police said that she had died of exposure, but there was a .38-caliber slug in her head,” Ms. Moore-Richard wrote in 1990.

In 2004, an AIM member, Arlo Looking Cloud, was convicted of killing Ms. Aquash. Prosecutors said AIM members believed that Ms. Aquash had been spying on AIM for the F.B.I.

In 1993, Ms. Moore-Richard and Mr. Erdoes wrote a sequel to their first book, called “Ohitika Woman.”

Mary Ellen Moore-Richard was born in Pine Ridge on Sept. 26, 1954. Survivors include four sons, Robert He Crow, Francisco Olguin, Henry Crow Dog and Leonard Crow Dog Jr.; two daughters, Jennifer Crow Dog and Summer Rose Olguin; her mother, Emily Smith; two brothers, Robert Joe Moore and Michael Smith; and two sisters, Kathleen Moore and Barbara Moore.

Ms. Moore-Richard was a regular presence on the set of the TNT film in 1994. In an interview at the time with The Los Angeles Times, she said AIM should be more appreciated by American Indians.

“Before AIM came, people didn’t have their long hair, people didn’t have their Indian pride,” she said. “Everybody was assimilated. These people still put AIM people down, but now they are having sun dances. Before, nobody did it because everybody was Catholic and nobody knew about the Indian ways until the AIM people came. Now they are a lot better off, but they still don’t recognize the movement.”

Responses to "Mary Ellen Moore-Richard, American Indian Memoirist, Dies at 58"

  1. I saw this incredibly beautiful woman and then that she was dead, the day does great harm sometimes!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    She was an incredibily intelligent & compassionate woman that was & will through her writings continue to be a passionate advocate for First People.

  3. Anonymous says:


  4. Anonymous says:

    I think it's sad that we not only heard so little about her walking on, but we also heard so little about her life. At only 58 years only she was taken from as far too young. There was so much more she could have shared with all of us.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Rest in peace

  6. Anonymous says:

    So sorry she died too soon but she made s differance in the short time she was here

  7. RevTom says:

    Man's inhumanity to man; she fought against that- championed a noble cause. That we can live together in peace and respect for one another

  8. Anonymous says:


  9. Unknown says:


  10. Anonymous says:

    Our spirit of our people shall not dwindle until our women lie dead in the ground! Let us look to the stars to find her shining down on us!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I read her book, Lakota Woman, and could only cry at the oppression of the Native American. She was a very brave person to stand up for her people. I pray her family finds peace in her passing.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I am sorry to hear of her passing at such a young age, only 3 years older than I. My heart has always been with Native Americans and their plight in this country. She did what she could to make her people it is our turn to help each other and continue what she fought so hard for.

  13. Anonymous says:

    So sad that she is gone, and a great loss to her people and the world!

  14. Anonymous says:

    She woke up and there was no violence, no hate, no discrimination, no injustice. They had been replaced by caring, love, family, and humanity. Regardless of which direction she looks, there is beauty beyond imagination, ancestors are alive and happy, Mother Earth and all her children are healthy, and when she looks up.. she sees the Great Spirit smiling down upon all of His children with unconditional Love! May God Bless her family, and all of us, as we wait for the day that we are united together as Human beings belonging to One Loving Family in Heaven!

  15. Anonymous says:


  16. Anonymous says:

    Thank You!

  17. Anonymous says:

    My heart goes out to her family and friends. The whole world will miss her.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Mary, has transformed is a voice of her ancestors memory of her children and her great great grandchildren will become her voice and Mary is still life giver....................For All Our Relations
    Sammy seven songs!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    Just sad to hear that she has passed. As a young teenage girl looking for my way in this world. Mary, walks in my life. Mvto, Mary so very much. Love you see you one day soon.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Her spirit looms large and she still has much to teach us about living in the future we create now. Joe P

  21. Anonymous says:

    Earth My Body
    Water My Blood
    Wind My Breath
    Fire My Spirit
    Awaken Rejoice

  22. Anonymous says:

    Earth My Body
    Water My Blood
    Wind My Breath
    Fire My Spirit
    Awaken Rejoice

  23. Anonymous says:

    What can a 65 years of age white man say? Our kind stole your land. Our people poisoned your bodies with alcohol. Our greed brought you diseases killing your people. Our thinking brought you perverse religion. Our ways decimated your beautiful ways. How is it you are so soulful and we are so devoid of true spirituality? Life is a twisted trail and as we all rush to eternity just maybe equality and justice will prevail. At least that is my hope. Free Strong Young

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