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Joe Medicine Crow’s life and work
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Joe Medicine Crow
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Biography of Joe Medicine Crow

Dr. Joe Medicine Crow is the Crow Tribal Historian and the oldest living man of the Crow tribe. In 1939, he was the first member of the Crow tribe to obtain a master’s degree. His Master’s thesis, “The Effects of European Culture Contact upon the Economic, Social, and Religious Life of the Crow Indians”, remains the most widely read source on Crow culture. He has received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Southern California and Rocky Mountain College.

Medicine Crow is the last traditional Plains war chief, having achieved the war deeds necessary to be declared a "chief" during World War II. He served in Europe, and earned the Bronze Star, a US Forces individual military decoration for acts of bravery or merit, or for meritorious service. Medicine Crow was also honored for his service to France during World War II when he received the National Order of the Legion of Honor from the French government on June 25, 2008. He was recognized for leading a war party that, under fire, retrieved dynamite to use to attack German guns. He also overcame a German soldier in hand-to-hand combat on a street in France (sparing his life), and captured fifty SS horses at a farm where German officers were staying. Joe Medicine Crow has also been nominated for the Congressional Gold Medal. Interviews with Dr. Medicince Crow were included in the 2007 Ken Burns PBS series "The War." In those interviews, he describes some of his World War II experiences.

For his war deeds and "contributions to the preservation of the culture and history of the First Americans" and his "importance as a role model to young Native Americans across the country," and other services to America, Joe Medicine Crow will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, on August 12, 2009.

Dr. Medicine Crow is a guest speaker at Little Bighorn College, the Custer Battlefield Museum, and several other colleges throughout the nation. Also an author, his books include, A Handbook of Crow Indian Laws and Treaties, and From the Heart of the Crow Country. He lives on the Crow Reservation in Lodge Grass, Montana.

Dr. Medicine Crow's contributions to World Wisdom books include:


Books/DVDs containing the work of Joe Medicine Crow

Dr. Joe Medicine Crow has contributed the following to World Wisdom projects:


Joe Medicine Crow’s Writings Online
 TitleSourceAuthor 1Author 2SubjectWW HTMLWW PDFExternal Link
In this foreword to Paul Goble's book Earth Made New: Plains Indian Stories of Creation, renowned Crow elder and tribal historian Dr. Joe Medicine Crow adds the Crow story of creation (centered on Old Man Coyote) to enrichen Goble's presentation. Medicine Crow then provides the setting for how such tales were transmitted from elders to the young in earlier times. He concludes by praising the care and authenticity that went into this book and by remarking that there is great value in such books that preserve traditional wisdom for generations who no longer receive it as they did in earlier times.
The Foreword by Joe Medicine Crow to "Earth Made New: Plains Indian Stories of Creation" by Paul GobleEarth Made New: Plains Indian Stories of Creation (World Wisdom 2009)Medicine Crow, Joe American Indian, Children’s Books, Tradition
Introduction to Native Spirit: The Sun Dance WayNative Spirit: The Sun Dance WayMedicine Crow, Joe American Indian
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Joe Medicine Crow Film Clips film clip holdings: 7

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Clip Title: Sun Dance
Summary: Joe Medicine Crow speaks on the history of the Crow Sun Dance, its development over the years, and the influence of the remarkable Shoshone holy man and Sun Dance Chief John Trehero upon current Crow practice.
Total Running Time - 4 minutes 56 seconds
Low Res File Size - 14.4M
High Res File Size - 26M

 Film Clips with Joe Medicine Crow (5)
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Crow Reservation
Dr. Medicine Crow recounts the government oppression during the early reservation period, which prohibited the Indians from all activities related to their traditional culture.
Total Running Time - 5 minutes 8 seconds
Low Res File Size - 14.9M
High Res File Size - 26.8M
Boarding Schools
Mr. Medicine Crow tells how the Boarding schools were places of intense work and terrible conditions for the children that were required to live there due to government regulations.
Total Running Time - 4 minutes 51 seconds
Low Res File Size - 14.3M
High Res File Size - 25.6M
Missionization
Dr. Medicine Crow explains the Indian attitude toward the numerous Christian sects that came to their reservation, as well as how traditional Indian religion interacted with this other religion.
Total Running Time - 2 minutes 25 seconds
Low Res File Size - 7.1M
High Res File Size - 12.7M
Living in Two Worlds
Dr. Medicine Crow explains how by embracing both cultures that were around him growing up he was able to survive the reservation times in his childhood while keeping the Native Spirit alive. He also gives to the Indian youth of today to honor the tribal ways, through Indian Days and Pow Wows.
Total Running Time - 6 minutes 13 seconds
Low Res File Size - 18M
High Res File Size - 32.5M
Sun Dance
Joe Medicine Crow speaks on the history of the Crow Sun Dance, its development over the years, and the influence of the remarkable Shoshone holy man and Sun Dance Chief John Trehero upon current Crow practice.
Total Running Time - 4 minutes 56 seconds
Low Res File Size - 14.4M
High Res File Size - 26M

 Film Clips about Joe Medicine Crow (2)  
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The Sun Dance Way
This trailer, from "The Sun Dance Way" provides an overview of the Sun Dance, the most sacred rite of Plains Indian tribes, and includes interviews with tribal elders and rare film footage and photographs of a Crow-Shoshone Sun Dance. Gordon Tootoosis narrates the words of Thomas Yellowtail.
Total Running Time -4 minutes, 8 seconds
Low Res File Size - 12.5M
High Res File Size - 21.1M
Joe Medicine Crow - Presidential Medal of Freedom
Joe Medicine crow receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented by President Obama in a ceremony in the White House on August 12th, 2009

Quotes on Joe Medicine Crow

"Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief, is the author of seminal works in Native American history and culture. He is the last person alive to have received direct oral testimony from a participant in the Battle of the Little Bighorn: his grandfather was a scout for General George Armstrong Custer. A veteran of World War II, Medicine Crow accomplished during the war all of the four tasks required to become a 'war chief,' including stealing fifty Nazi SS horses from a German camp. Medicine Crow was the first member of his tribe to attend college, receiving his master’s degree in anthropology in 1939, and continues to lecture at universities and notable institutions like the United Nations. His contributions to the preservation of the culture and history of the First Americans are matched only by his importance as a role model to young Native Americans across the country."
The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, taken from a press release announcing the naming of Dr. Medicine Crow, along with 15 others, as recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Photographs of Joe Medicine Crow














Joe Medicine Crow (in blue sweater) singing at the sacred drum during the Crow Sun Dance in the Wolf Mountains, MT, July 17, 2009.

 

Grand entry of the Whistling Waters clan of the Crow tribe at a pow-wow in Lodge Grass, MT, July 4, 1991. From left are Thomas Yellowtail, Joe Medicine Crow and Michael Fitzgerald.

 

a photograph of Joe Medicine Crow's grandfather,
Chief Medicine Crow, taken by Edward S. Curtis



Slideshows on Joe Medicine Crow


Online Resources about Joe Medicine Crow

There is a Wikipedia page on Joe Medicine Crow, which is both well organized and has some additional links and information.
Another interesting page is the White House press release naming the 2009 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Dr. Joe Medicine Crow is among the sixteen distinguished recipients of this year's Medal, and there is a good paragraph in the release summarizing his achievements.


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