Plains Indians, Interior Plains Indians or Indigenous people of the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies are the Native American tribes and First Nation band governments who have traditionally lived on the greater Interior Plains in North America. Their historic nomadic culture and development of equestrian culture and resistance to domination by the government and military forces of Canada and the United States have made the Plains Indian culture groups an archetype in literature and art for American Indians everywhere. Plains Indians are divided into two broad classifications which overlap to some degree; the first group became a nomadic horse culture during the 18th and 19th centuries, following the vast herds of buffalo, although some tribes engaged in agriculture. These include the Blackfoot, Assiniboine, Comanche, Gros Ventre, Lakota, Plains Apache, Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwe, Sarsi and Tonkawa; the second group of Plains Indians were semi-sedentary, and, in addition to hunting buffalo, they lived in villages, raised crops, traded with other tribes.
These include the Arikara, Iowa, Kitsai, Missouria, Osage, Pawnee, Quapaw and the Santee Dakota and Yankton Dakota. Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains are separated into Northern and Southern Plains tribes. Nomadic tribes survived on hunting and gathering. People hunted the American Bison to make items used in everyday life, such as food, decorations, crafting tools and clothing; the tribes followed the seasonal migration of the bison. The Plains Indians lived in tipis because they were disassembled and allowed the nomadic life of following game; the Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was the first European to describe the Plains Indian culture. While searching for a reputedly wealthy land called Quivira in 1541, Coronado came across the Querechos in the Texas panhandle; the Querechos were the people called Apache. According to the Spaniards, the Querechos lived "in tents made of the tanned skins of the cows, they dry the flesh in the sun, cutting it thin like a leaf, when dry they grind it like meal to keep it and make a sort of sea soup of it to eat....
They season it with fat. They empty a large gut and fill it with blood, carry this around the neck to drink when they are thirsty." Coronado described many common features of Plains Indians culture: skin tepees, travois pulled by dogs, Plains Indian Sign Language, staple foods such as jerky and pemmican. The Plains Indians found by Coronado had not yet obtained horses; when horses were obtained, the Plains tribes integrated them into their daily lives. People in the southwest began to acquire horses in the 16th century by trading or stealing them from Spanish colonists in New Mexico; as horse culture moved northward, the Comanche were among the first to commit to a mounted nomadic lifestyle. This occurred by the 1730s, when they had acquired enough horses to put all their people on horseback; the horse enabled the Plains Indians to gain their subsistence with relative ease from the limitless buffalo herds. Riders were able to travel faster and farther in search of bison herds and to transport more goods, thus making it possible to enjoy a richer material environment than their pedestrian ancestors.
For the Plains peoples, the horse became an item of prestige as well as utility. They were extravagantly fond of their horses and the lifestyle they permitted; the first Spanish conqueror to bring horses to the new world was Hernán Cortés in 1519. However, Cortés only brought about sixteen horses with his expedition. Coronado brought 558 horses with him on his 1539–1542 expedition. At the time, the Indians of these regions had never seen a horse, although they had heard of them from contacts with Indians in Mexico. Only two of Coronado's horses were mares, so he was unlikely to have been the source of the horses that Plains Indians adopted as the cornerstone of their culture. In 1592, Juan de Onate brought 7,000 head of livestock with him when he came north to establish a colony in New Mexico, his horse herd included mares as well as stallions. Pueblo Indians learned about horses by working for Spanish colonists; the Spanish attempted to keep knowledge of riding away from Native people, but nonetheless, they learned and some fled their servitude to their Spanish employers—and took horses with them.
Some horses were obtained through trade in spite of prohibitions against it. Other horses were captured by Native people. In all cases the horse was adopted into their culture and herds multiplied. By 1659, the Navajo from northwestern New Mexico were raiding the Spanish colonies to steal horses. By 1664, the Apache were trading captives from other tribes to the Spanish for horses; the real beginning of the horse culture of the plains began with the expulsion of the Spanish from New Mexico in 1680 when the victorious Pueblo people captured thousands of horses and other livestock. They traded many horses north to the Plains Indians. In 1683 a Spanish expedition into Texas found horses among Native people. In 1690, a few horses were found by the Spanish among the Indians living at the mouth of the Colorado River of Texas and the Caddo of eastern Texas had a sizeable number; the French explorer Claude Charles Du Tisne found 300 horses among the Wichita on the Verdigris River in 1719, but they were still not plentiful.
North America is a continent within the Northern Hemisphere and all within the Western Hemisphere. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea. North America covers an area of about 24,709,000 square kilometers, about 16.5% of the earth's land area and about 4.8% of its total surface. North America is the third largest continent by area, following Asia and Africa, the fourth by population after Asia and Europe. In 2013, its population was estimated at nearly 579 million people in 23 independent states, or about 7.5% of the world's population, if nearby islands are included. North America was reached by its first human populations during the last glacial period, via crossing the Bering land bridge 40,000 to 17,000 years ago; the so-called Paleo-Indian period is taken to have lasted until about 10,000 years ago. The Classic stage spans the 6th to 13th centuries.
The Pre-Columbian era ended in 1492, the transatlantic migrations—the arrival of European settlers during the Age of Discovery and the Early Modern period. Present-day cultural and ethnic patterns reflect interactions between European colonists, indigenous peoples, African slaves and their descendants. Owing to the European colonization of the Americas, most North Americans speak English, Spanish or French, their culture reflects Western traditions; the Americas are accepted as having been named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci by the German cartographers Martin Waldseemüller and Matthias Ringmann. Vespucci, who explored South America between 1497 and 1502, was the first European to suggest that the Americas were not the East Indies, but a different landmass unknown by Europeans. In 1507, Waldseemüller produced a world map, in which he placed the word "America" on the continent of South America, in the middle of what is today Brazil, he explained the rationale for the name in the accompanying book Cosmographiae Introductio:... ab Americo inventore... quasi Americi terram sive Americam.
For Waldseemüller, no one should object to the naming of the land after its discoverer. He used the Latinized version of Vespucci's name, but in its feminine form "America", following the examples of "Europa", "Asia" and "Africa". Other mapmakers extended the name America to the northern continent, In 1538, Gerard Mercator used America on his map of the world for all the Western Hemisphere; some argue that because the convention is to use the surname for naming discoveries, the derivation from "Amerigo Vespucci" could be put in question. In 1874, Thomas Belt proposed a derivation from the Amerrique mountains of Central America. Marcou corresponded with Augustus Le Plongeon, who wrote: "The name AMERICA or AMERRIQUE in the Mayan language means, a country of perpetually strong wind, or the Land of the Wind, and... the can mean... a spirit that breathes, life itself." The United Nations formally recognizes "North America" as comprising three areas: Northern America, Central America, The Caribbean.
This has been formally defined by the UN Statistics Division. The term North America maintains various definitions in accordance with context. In Canadian English, North America refers to the land mass as a whole consisting of Mexico, the United States, Canada, although it is ambiguous which other countries are included, is defined by context. In the United States of America, usage of the term may refer only to Canada and the US, sometimes includes Greenland and Mexico, as well as offshore islands. In France, Portugal, Romania and the countries of Latin America, the cognates of North America designate a subcontinent of the Americas comprising Canada, the United States, Mexico, Greenland, Saint Pierre et Miquelon, Bermuda. North America has been referred to by other names. Spanish North America was referred to as Northern America, this was the first official name given to Mexico. Geographically the North American continent has many subregions; these include cultural and geographic regions. Economic regions included those formed by trade blocs, such as the North American Trade Agreement bloc and Central American Trade Agreement.
Linguistically and culturally, the continent could be divided into Latin America. Anglo-America includes most of Northern America and Caribbean islands with English-speaking populations; the southern North American continent is composed of two regions. These are the Caribbean; the north of the continent maintains recognized regions as well. In contrast to the common definition of "North America", which encompasses the whole continent, the term "North America" is sometimes used to refer only to Mexico, the United States, Greenland; the term Northern America refers to the northern-most countries and territories of North America: the United States, Bermuda, St. Pierre and Miquelon and Greenland. Although the term does not refer to a unifie
The Pacific Northwest, sometimes referred to as Cascadia, is a geographic region in western North America bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and by the Cascade Mountain Range on the east. Though no official boundary exists, the most common conception includes the Canadian province of British Columbia and the U. S. states of Idaho and Washington. Broader conceptions reach north into Southeast Alaska and Yukon, south into northern California, east to the Continental Divide to include Western Montana and parts of Wyoming. Narrower conceptions may be limited to the coastal areas west of the Coast mountains; the variety of definitions can be attributed to overlapping commonalities of the region's history, geography and other factors. The Northwest Coast is the coastal region of the Pacific Northwest, the Northwest Plateau is the inland region; the term "Pacific Northwest" should not be confused with the Northwest Territory or the Northwest Territories of Canada. The region's largest metropolitan areas are Greater Seattle, with 3.8 million people.
A key aspect of the Pacific Northwest is the US–Canada international border, which the United States and the United Kingdom established at a time when the region's inhabitants were composed of indigenous peoples. The border—in two sections, along the 49th parallel south of British Columbia and the Alaska Panhandle west of northern British Columbia—has had a powerful effect on the region. According to Canadian historian Ken Coates, the border has not influenced the Pacific Northwest—rather, "the region's history and character have been determined by the boundary". Definitions of the Pacific Northwest region vary, Pacific Northwesterners do not agree on the exact boundary; the most common conception includes the U. S. states of Idaho and Washington and the Canadian province of British Columbia. Broader definitions of the region have included the U. S. states of Alaska and parts of the states of California and Wyoming, the Canadian territory of the Yukon. Definitions based on the historic Oregon Country reach east to the Continental Divide, thus including all of Idaho and parts of western Montana and western Wyoming.
Sometimes, the Pacific Northwest is defined as being the Northwestern United States excluding Canada. Note that these types of definitions are made by government agencies whose scope is limited to the United States; the Pacific Northwest has been occupied by a diverse array of indigenous peoples for millennia. The Pacific Coast is seen by some scholars as a major coastal migration route in the settlement of the Americas by late Pleistocene peoples moving from northeast Asia into the Americas; the coastal migration hypothesis has been bolstered by findings such as the report that the sediments in the Port Eliza Cave on Vancouver Island indicate the possibility of survivable climate as far back as 16 kya in the area, while the continental ice sheets were nearing their maximum extent. Other evidence for human occupation dating back as much as 14.5 kya is emerging from Paisley Caves in south-central Oregon. However, despite such research, the coastal migration hypothesis is still subject to considerable debate.
Due in part to the richness of Pacific Northwest Coast and river fisheries, some of the indigenous peoples developed complex sedentary societies, while remaining hunter-gatherers. The Pacific Northwest Coast is one of the few places where politically complex hunter-gatherers evolved and survived to historic contacts, therefore has been vital for anthropologists and archaeologists seeking to understand how complex hunter and gatherer societies function; when Europeans first arrived on the Northwest Coast, they found one of the world's most complex hunting and fishing societies, with large sedentary villages, large houses, systems of social rank and prestige, extensive trade networks, many other factors more associated with societies based on domesticated agriculture. In the interior of the Pacific Northwest, the indigenous peoples, at the time of European contact, had a diversity of cultures and societies; some areas were home to egalitarian societies. Others along major rivers such as the Columbia and Fraser, had complex, sedentary societies rivaling those of the coast.
In British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, the Tlingit and Haida erected large and elaborately carved totem poles that have become iconic of Pacific Northwest artistic traditions. Throughout the Pacific Northwest, thousands of indigenous people live, some continue to practice their rich cultural traditions, "organizing their societies around cedar and salmon". In 1579 the British captain and erstwhile privateer Francis Drake sailed up the west coast of North America as far as Oregon before returning south to land and make ship repairs. At this landing site near present-day San Francisco, Drake made a symbolic claim of the region for England, naming it New Albion. Juan de Fuca, a Greek captain sailing for the Crown of Spain found the Strait of Juan de Fuca around 1592; the strait was whether he discovered it or not has long been questioned. During the early 1740s, Imperial Russia sent the Dane Vitus Bering to the region. By the late 18th century and into the mid-19th century, Russian settlers had established several posts and communities on the northeast Pacific coast reaching a
Missouri River Valley
The Missouri River Valley outlines the journey of the Missouri River from its headwaters where the Madison and Gallatin Rivers flow together in Montana to its confluence with the Mississippi River in the State of Missouri. At 2,300 miles long the valley drains one-sixth of the United States, is the longest river valley on the North American continent; the valley in the Missouri River basin includes river floodplains. The Missouri's valley ranges from 6 miles to 10 miles wide from edge to edge, with gentle slopes from the adjacent upland to the valley floor. Other segments are narrow, less than two miles wide, with rugged valley sides; the wide segments trend west-east and the narrow segments trend north-south. Starting in the state of Montana, the Missouri River Valley travels through North Dakota, South Dakota, forms the shared border of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, goes into Kansas and eastward through the state of Missouri; the valley travels through several distinct ecoregions with distinct climate and native species.
The Loess Hills are a unique geographic feature of the valley. Loess, a wind-deposited soil, is compounded in rising hills at various points in extreme eastern portions of Nebraska and Kansas along the Missouri River Valley near the Nebraska cities of Brownville, Plattsmouth, Fort Calhoun, Ponca, rising no more than 200 feet above the Missouri River bottoms; the majority of these hills stretch along the east side of the river, from Westfield, Iowa in the north to Mound City, Missouri in the south. Channeling and levee construction have altered. Several large floods have affected the valley; the first recorded event is the Great Flood of 1844, which crested in Kansas City on July 16, 1844, discharged 625,000 cubic feet per second. The Great Flood of 1951 discharged 573,000 cubic feet per second, cresting on July 14, 1951; this flood devastated the lower Missouri River Valley, including Kansas City, along a reach of river where there was no levee system. The Kansas City Stockyards were destroyed and the city was forced to move the development of an airport away from the Missouri River bottoms.
The Great Flood of 1993 discharged at 541,000 cubic feet per second and devastated much of the upper valley. The Missouri River Valley Culture, or "Steamboat Society," was first defined in the 1850s by non-Indian residents of the Dakotas who sold wood to steamboats or trapped furs along the river bottoms. Gambling and illegal alcohol sales to American Indians fueled the growth of the culture, which included outfitters, livestock ranchers and tribal agents. A line of urbanized centers grew along the river in response which bloomed when reservations were allotted throughout the region. Uniting themselves along the banks of the river, South Dakotans identify themselves today as "East River" or "West River". According to the University of South Dakota, the associated present-day culture of the Missouri River Valley contains a broad swath of political, social and artistic perspectives; the Flood Control Act of 1944 introduced the Pick-Sloan Missouri Basin Program. Designed to benefit the entirety of the Missouri River Basin including the valley, the plan sought to meet the needs of residents throughout the area by providing irrigation systems and reservoirs for storing water where needed, along with hydroelectric power, flood control measures, navigational improvement.
The government did not complete the comprehensive plan for the valley, instead introducing individual projects, including the construction of six dams. They are the Fort Peck Dam in Montana, the Garrison Dam in North Dakota, the Oahe, Big Bend, Fort Randall Dams in South Dakota, the Gavins Point Dam in Nebraska and South Dakota; the channel of the Missouri was improved extensively along with the development of ports such as the one in Omaha throughout the 1950s and 60s for greater volumes of traffic on the river, which have never come to fruition. Following at a distance of years the first recorded exploration of the majority of the valley by the Lewis and Clark expedition, there have been numerous attempts at preserving the natural habitats of the Missouri River Valley, spurred in its early days by concerns of duck hunters, for the Missouri basin lies across a major migration toutes, the Central Flyway, in the river's lower reaches, the Mississippi Flyway. Today there are several protected areas throughout the course of the Missouri River Valley.
They include the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri and the DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in Nebraska. The Katy Trail travels along the valley in Missouri. Other protected areas in the valley include: Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge Lake Sakakawea Missouri Headwaters State Park Ponca State Park Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument Tributaries of the Missouri River Ionia Volcano River basins in the United States Missouri River Valley Explorer
The Blackfoot Confederacy, Niitsitapi or Siksikaitsitapi is a historic collective name for the four bands that make up the Blackfoot or Blackfeet people: three First Nation band governments in the provinces of Saskatchewan and British Columbia, one federally recognized Native American tribe in Montana, United States. The Siksika, the Kainai or Kainah, the Northern Piegan or Peigan or Piikani reside in Canada. In modern use, the term is sometimes used only for the three First Nations in Canada; the member peoples of the Confederacy were nomadic bison hunters and trout fishermen, who ranged across large areas of the northern Great Plains of western North America the semi-arid shortgrass prairie ecological region. They followed the bison herds as they migrated between what are now the United States and Canada, as far north as the Bow River. In the first half of the 18th century, they acquired horses and firearms from white traders and their Cree and Assiniboine go-betweens; the Blackfoot used these to expand their territory at the expense of neighboring tribes.
By riding horses and using them to transport goods, the Blackfoot and other Plains tribes could extend the range of their buffalo hunts. In the mid to late 19th century, the systematic commercial bison hunting by white hunters nearly ended the bison herds and permanently changed Native American life on the Great Plains, since their primary food source was no longer abundant. Periods of starvation and deprivation followed; the Blackfoot tribe, like other Plains Indians, was forced to adopt ranching and farming, settling in permanent reservations. In the 1870s, their bands signed treaties with both the United States and Canada, ceding most of their lands in exchange for annuities of food and medical aid, as well as help in learning to farm, but the Blackfoot have worked to maintain their traditional language and culture in the face of assimilationist policies of both the U. S. and Canada. The Blackfoot/Plains Confederacy consisted of three peoples based on kinship and dialect, but all speaking the common language of Blackfoot, one of the Algonquian languages family.
The three were the Piikáni, the Káínaa, the Siksikáwa. They allied with the unrelated Tsuu T'ina, who became merged into the Confederacy and, with the Atsina, or A'aninin; each of these decentralized peoples were divided into many bands, which ranged in size from 10 to 30 lodges, or about 80 to 240 persons. The band was the basic unit of organization for defence; the largest ethnic group in the Confederacy is the Piegan spelled Peigan or Pikuni. Their name derives from the Blackfoot term Piikáni, they are divided into the Piikani Nation in present-day Alberta, the South Peigan or Piegan Blackfeet in Montana, United States. A once large and mighty division of the Piegan were the Inuk'sik of southwestern Montana. Today they survive only as a band of the South Peigan; the modern Kainai Nation is named for the Blackfoot-language term Káínaa, meaning "Many Chief people". These were also called the "Blood," from a Plains Cree name for the Kainai: Miko-Ew, meaning "stained with blood"; the common English name for the tribe is the Blood tribe.
The Siksika Nation's name derives from Siksikáwa, meaning "Those of like". The Siksika call themselves Sao-kitapiiksi, meaning "Plains People"; the Sarcee call themselves the Tsu T'ina, meaning "a great number of people." During early years of conflict, the Blackfoot called them Saahsi or Sarsi, "the stubborn ones", in their language. The Sarcee are from an different language family; the Sarcee are an offshoot of the Beaver people, who migrated south onto the plains sometime in the early eighteenth century. They joined the Confederacy and merged with the Pikuni; the Gros Ventre people call themselves the Haaninin spelled A'aninin. The French called misinterpreting a physical sign for waterfall; the Blackfoot referred to them because of years of enmity. Early scholars thought the A'aninin were related to the Arapaho Nation, who inhabited the Missouri Plains and moved west to Colorado and Wyoming, they were allied with the Confederacy from circa 1793 to 1861, but came to disagreement and were enemies of it thereafter.
The Confederacy occupied a large territory where they foraged. But during the late nineteenth century, both governments forced the peoples to end their nomadic traditions and settle on "Indian reserves" or "Indian reservations"; the South Peigan are the only group. The other three Blackfoot-speaking peoples and the Sarcee are located in Alberta. Together, the Blackfoot-speakers call themselves the Niitsítapi. After leaving the
World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Joe Medicine Crow
Joseph Medicine Crow was a war chief and historian of the Crow Nation of Native Americans. His writings on Native American history and reservation culture are considered seminal works, but he is best known for his writings and lectures concerning the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, he received the Bronze Star Medal and the Légion d'honneur for service during World War II, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. He was the last surviving war chief of the last living Plains Indian war chief, he was a founding member of the Traditional Circle of Indian Youth. Joseph Medicine Crow was born in 1913 on the Crow Indian Reservation near Lodge Grass, Montana, to Amy Yellowtail and Leo Medicine Crow; as the Crow kinship system was matrilineal, he was considered born for his mother's people, gained his social status from that line. Property and hereditary positions were passed through the maternal line. Chief Medicine Crow, Leo's father, was a distinguished and honored chief in his own right, who at the age of 22 became a war chief.
He was his son's inspiration. His maternal step-grandfather, White Man Runs Him, was a scout for US General George Armstrong Custer and an eyewitness to the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Joe Medicine Crow's cousin is Pauline Small, the first woman elected to office in the Crow Tribe of Indians; when he was young, Medicine Crow heard direct oral testimony about the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 from his step-grandfather, White Man Runs Him, a scout for General George Armstrong Custer. Beginning in 1929, when he was in eighth grade, Medicine Crow attended Bacone College in Muskogee, which had preparatory classes for students of high school age, he studied until he completed an Associate of Arts degree in 1936. He went on to study sociology and psychology for his bachelor's degree from Linfield College in 1938, he earned a master's degree in anthropology from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles in 1939. His thesis, The Effects of European Culture Contact upon the Economic and Religious Life of the Crow Indians, has become a well-respected work about Crow culture.
He began work toward a doctorate, by 1941 had completed the required coursework. He did not complete his Ph. D. due to the United States' entry into World War II. Medicine Crow taught at Chemawa Indian School for a year in 1941 took a defense industry job in the shipyards of Bremerton, Washington in 1942. After spending the latter half of 1942 working in the naval ship yards in Bremerton, Medicine Crow joined the U. S. Army in 1943, he became a scout in the 103rd Infantry Division, fought in World War II. Whenever he went into battle, he wore his war paint beneath his uniform and a sacred yellow painted eagle feather, provided by a "sundance" medicine man, beneath his helmet. Medicine Crow completed all four tasks required to become a war chief: touching an enemy without killing him, taking an enemy's weapon, leading a successful war party, stealing an enemy's horse, he touched a living enemy soldier and disarmed him after turning a corner and finding himself face to face with a young German soldier: The collision knocked the German's weapon to the ground.
Mr. Crow lowered his own weapon and the two fought hand-to-hand. In the end Mr. Crow got the best of the German, choking him, he was going to kill the German soldier on the spot when the man screamed out'momma.' Mr. Crow let him go, he led a successful war party and stole fifty horses owned by the Nazi SS from a German camp singing a traditional Crow honor song as he rode off. Medicine Crow is the last member of the Crow tribe to become a war chief, he was interviewed and appeared in the 2007 Ken Burns PBS series The War, describing his World War II service. Filmmaker Ken Burns said, "The story of Joseph Medicine Crow is something I've wanted to tell for 20 years." After serving in the Army, Medicine Crow returned to the Crow Agency. In 1948, he was appointed tribal anthropologist, he worked for the BIA beginning in 1951. He served as a board member or officer on the Crow Central Education Commission continuously since its inception in 1972. In 1999, he addressed the United Nations. Medicine Crow was a frequent guest speaker at Little Big Horn College and the Little Big Horn Battlefield Museum.
He was featured in several documentaries about the battle, because of his family's associated oral history. He wrote a script "that has been used at the reenactment of the Battle of Little Big Horn held every summer in Hardin since 1965."Medicine Crow was a founding member of Little Bighorn College and of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming beginning in 1976. As historian, Medicine Crow was the "keeper of memories" of his tribe, he preserved the photographs of his people in an archive in his house and garage. His books include Crow Migration Story, Medicine Crow, the Handbook of the Crow Indians Law and Treaties, Crow Indian Buffalo Jump Techniques, From the Heart of Crow Country, he wrote a book for children entitled Brave Wolf and the Thunderbird. Medicine Crow received honorary doctorates from Rocky Mountain College in 1999, his alma mater the University of Southern California in 2003, Bacone College in 2010, he was an ambassador and commencement speaker at the latter, a college established for Native Americans, for more than 50 years.
His memoir, Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond, was chosen in 2007 by the National Council for the Social Studies as a "Not