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Joe Medicine Crow, Last Plains Indian War Chief, Dies at 102

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The last surviving war chief of Montana’s Crow tribe has died. Joe Medicine Crow died Sunday at a hospice center in Billings, Montana.  He was 102-years-old.

Medicine Crow was a member of the Crow Tribe’s Whistling Water clan.

He was raised by his grandparents in a log house in a rural area of the Crow Reservation near Lodge Grass, Montana. His grandfather, Yellowtail, raised Medicine Crow to be a warrior.

When he was 6 or 7, Crow had to run barefoot in the snow to toughen his feet and spirit. He recalled listening as a child to stories about the Battle of Little Bighorn from those who were there, including his grandmother’s brother, who was a scout for Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.

The National Parks Service claims Medicine Crow was the last living person who heard of the Battle of Little Bighorn directly.

President Obama awarded Joe Medicine Crow with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a civilian can receive in the United States, in 2009.

Medicine Crow served in World War II and was his tribe’s official historian. He has a Billings middle school named in his honor.