montana photograph Joe Medicine Crow

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This week marks the passing of Joe Medicine Crow, who died in Billings on Sunday at 102. I photographed him in 2008 at his home in Lodge Grass for a story about the American Indian Institute.

Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, Medicine Crow was a hero in World War II, where he became the last member of the Crow tribe to accomplish the four traditional deeds that earn one the status of “war chief.” One of these deeds was to steal 50 horses from the Nazi army.

A renowned anthropologist and historian, he knew personally four scouts who had been with Gen. George Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where Custer’s army was decimated by Sioux and Cheyenne warriors in 1876.

I remember him as the embodiment of dignity, strength and resilience. I was honored to have met him.

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