Published April 3, 2016
BILLINGS, MONTANA — Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, walked on Sunday, April 3, 2016. Dr. Medicine Crow was 102.
Born on October 27, 1913 near Lodge Grass, Montana, Medicine Crow was a decorated World War II veteran and was the first member of the Crow Tribe to obtain an advanced degree when he earned a master’s degree. After World War II, he earned a Ph.D.
In 2008, Senator Jon Tester (Montana-D), vice chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, nominated Dr. Medicine Crow to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He was honored by President Barack Obama in August of 2009.
“Today, Montana lost a treasure. Joe Medicine Crow was a soldier and a scholar, but above all he was a fierce advocate for Native American families. When you spoke with Joe Medicine Crow, it was impossible not to be inspired. I know his legacy will motivate generations of Montanans to follow in his footsteps and live a life dedicated to serving others,” commented Senator Tester today in a statement.
During a White House ceremony in 2009, President Obama presented Dr. Medicine Crow with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and stated:
“Born just a generation past the Battle of the Little Big Horn, a grandson of a scout for General Custer himself, Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow was the first member of his tribe to attend college and earn a Master’s. Before completing his PhD, he left to serve in World War II. Wearing war paint beneath his uniform, and a sacred feather beneath his helmet, Joseph Medicine Crow completed the four battlefield deeds that made him the last Crow war chief. Historian, educator, and patriot — a good man, a bacheitche in Crow — Dr. Medicine Crow’s life reflects not only the warrior spirit of the Crow people, but America’s highest ideals.”
In 2015, the Billings schools named the new middle school in the Heights “Medicine Crow Middle School,” which is currently under construction. He attended the ground breaking of the school’s construction.