Dr. Joe Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief, turned 102 years old on Tuesday.

Medicine Crow was born on October 27, 1913, near Lodge Grass. The decorated WWII veteran and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom attended the University of Southern California where he earned a degree in anthropology in 1939. He is the first member of the Crow tribe to obtain a master's degree.

Earlier this year, Billings school officials named the new middle school in the Heights "Medicine Crow Middle School," which is currently under construction on the corner of Bench Boulevard and Barret Road.

Crow is a frequent guest speaker at Little Big Horn College and Little Big Horn Battlefield Museum, and has appeared in several documentaries about the battle.

He is also a historian and author of several books, and is best known for his writings and lectures concerning the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

The National Park Service has more information about Medicine Crow, including this overview:

Born October 27, 1913 near Lodge Grass, Montana, Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow is the last living person with a direct oral history from a participant of the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.

His grandfather, White Man Runs Him was a scout with General Custer and died in 1925 when Medicine Crow was 11 years old.

Dr. Medicine Crow’s grandparents lived before the United States Government sent Indians to a reservation in 1884. His father was a boyhood friend of Chief Plenty Coups and had advised Plenty Coups to go to the nation’s capital to present the Indians cases for preserving their ancestral land.

Prior to WWII, Medicine Crow – who was the first of his tribe to graduate from college – was studying for an advanced degree in anthropology before volunteering for the Army and being sent to Europe.

Joe Medicine Crow’s grandfather Chief Medicine Crow 

It was on the European battlefields Medicine Crow completed all of the four tasks needed to become a Crow War Chief. As a scout he led several successful war parties deep behind enemy lines; he stole German horses; he disarmed an enemy; and he touched an enemy (counted coup) without killing him.


Responses to "Dr. Joe Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief, celebrates 102nd birthday"

  1. A very Happy Birthday to a living legend. May your spirit inspire us all.

  2. Christine Williams says:

    I enjoyed reading this story and hope this comment finds you still with us. I have been searching the truth about my Cherokee family for some time and have relives whom died in the many wars. My grandmother told me are Indian name is cutbirth . Great grandmother married Suttles and was a Eteir maiden name. She was a fully blood Cherokee. Please if you can help me find my answers to the truth of my family. wado. My name is Christine Williams and I can be contacted at 405-756-0915 or 901 W. Choctaw Rush Springs, OK 73082

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