Joe Medicine Crow, also known as High Bird, was a prominent Native American historian, author, and veteran who fought in World War II. As a member of the Crow Nation, he is remembered as the last traditional war chief of his tribe, and for his heroic actions during the war.
During World War II, Joe Medicine Crow enlisted in the U.S. Army and became a member of the 103rd Infantry Division. He was tasked with gathering intelligence on the German Army, and he used his knowledge of the Crow language and customs to gain the trust of German soldiers and obtain valuable information.
Joe Medicine Crow’s bravery and leadership during the war earned him several medals and awards, including the Bronze Star and the French Legion of Honor. But perhaps his most significant achievement was becoming the last traditional war chief of the Crow Nation. In order to achieve this status, he had to complete four specific tasks, which were handed down to him by his grandfather.
The first task was to touch an enemy without killing him. The second task was to steal an enemy’s weapon. The third task was to lead a successful war party, which he accomplished by leading a group of soldiers in a nighttime raid on a German camp. And the fourth and final task was to steal an enemy’s horse, which he accomplished by taking a prized stallion from a German officer’s stable.
After completing these tasks, Joe Medicine Crow returned to his tribe as a respected war chief, and he dedicated the rest of his life to preserving and sharing his people’s history and culture. He wrote several books on Crow history, including “From the Heart of the Crow Country” and “Counting Coup: A True Story of Basketball and Honor on the Little Big Horn.”
Joe Medicine Crow passed away on April 3, 2016, at the age of 102.