8 Incredible Stories From the Life of Joe Medicine Crow That You Need to Hear!

Have you ever wondered about the incredible life stories of heroes you've never heard about? Joe Medicine Crow, a Crow war chief and World War II hero, left behind a legacy that's both inspiring and unforgettable. His bravery and dedication made him a legend among his people and a figure of great historical importance.

✍🏻 Written by Dr. Laura Whitman from MemoryCherish

Joe Medicine Crow’s life is filled with moments that seem right out of a movie. Raised in the warrior tradition, he applied it in real-world scenarios that shaped history.

From serving in WWII to becoming the last Plains Indian war chief, his stories are a testament to courage and resilience.

Ready to dive into tales of true heroism? Keep reading!

1) Captured and Disarmed German Soldiers

German soldiers surrendering weapons to Joe Medicine Crow

Picture it: Europe during WWII. Joe Medicine Crow, a brave soldier with deep roots in his Crow heritage, found himself in a critical moment.

You’re in an active war zone. The air is tense. You can almost feel your pulse in your throat.

Joe had to lead a war party against the German soldiers.

What would you do?

Instead of just charging with brute force, Joe used his mind. He captured and disarmed enemy soldiers without losing any of his men.

Think about the guts and smarts that took!

Imagine being in Joe’s shoes. You’re faced with enemies armed to the teeth. Yet, Joe managed to disarm them without killing anyone.

Can you believe that? He actually got close enough to touch them.

These soldiers, who were probably trained to all ends, found themselves outsmarted by Joe.

Using tactics passed down from his ancestors, Joe achieved something remarkable. Leadership like that is rare.

The courage and strategy Joe displayed showed his spirit. This wasn’t just about muscle; it was about brains and heart. Stories like Joe’s make you appreciate the depth of human courage and ingenuity. Joe Medicine Crow’s bravery is something worth telling over and over again.

2) Broke Tradition to Serve in WWII

Joe Medicine Crow breaking tradition to serve in WWII, wearing military uniform, holding a rifle, surrounded by fellow soldiers and battle scenes

Did you know that Joe Medicine Crow broke with tradition to serve in World War II?

Born in 1913 on the Crow Reservation in Montana, Joe was raised to follow the warrior traditions of his people.

When WWII began, Joe was in graduate school. Many in his community didn’t expect him to leave, as it was uncommon for a Native American to go to war for the U.S.

While his education was important, he felt the greater calling to serve his country.

Enlisting in the Army, Joe became a scout for the 103rd Infantry Division. His role involved dangerous reconnaissance missions, where he needed to navigate the land and report enemy positions.

It wasn’t easy, but Joe applied the skills he learned from Crow traditions to his work.

Joe’s acts of bravery followed the crow traditions of counting coup — touching an enemy without killing them, and stealing horses.

During one mission, he stole fifty horses from a Nazi camp, singing a traditional Crow warrior song as he rode away.

Imagine the scene—Joe Medicine Crow galloping away with Nazi horses, faithfully upholding his culture’s warrior codes while serving a different kind of battle.

This blend of old and new worlds showcases not just his bravery but his deep commitment to his values.

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3) Led a Successful Cavalry Charge

A cavalry charge over rolling hills, with dust flying and horses galloping, led by a determined and victorious figure

Imagine the clamorous battlefield. Can you picture it?

Joe Medicine Crow, serving as a scout in World War II, found himself in a pivotal moment.

Riding a horse, he led a charge against the enemy. It was one of those moments where history and bravery intersect.

You can almost hear the thundering hooves of the cavalry. Joe Medicine Crow, true to his warrior tradition, led his men with skill and courage.

This wasn’t just any charge; it was a successful maneuver that helped his unit advance.

Medicine Crow’s actions during this charge were crucial. He disarmed and captured enemy soldiers, showing both tactical prowess and leadership.

Such valor didn’t go unnoticed.

His bravery in battle earned him the status of war chief. This title honored his extraordinary feats, including this daring charge.

Imagine the pride of his people, knowing he had upheld their warrior spirit.

Think about how moments like this define history. Joe Medicine Crow’s charge stands as a testament to his strength and heritage. The story of this charge continues to inspire, showing how courage in critical moments can shape legacies.

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4) Inspired by Warrior Ancestry

Picture this: a boy growing up on the Crow Reservation in Montana. Can you see him? That boy was Joe Medicine Crow, and his ancestry was steeped in warrior traditions.

His grandfather, White Man Runs Him, was a scout for George Custer during the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Imagine the stories Joe heard growing up. They weren’t just tales; they were lessons.

These stories taught him about bravery and honor. He learned how his ancestors lived with courage.

This inspired him to follow in their footsteps, even in modern times.

Joe didn’t just listen to these stories; he lived them.

During World War II, he served as a scout in Europe. He applied the same bravery he had learned from his warrior ancestors.

Can you feel the connection to the past? Joe Medicine Crow certainly did.

His warrior heritage was not just history; it was a guide for his actions.

Inspired by the courage of his forefathers, Joe exemplified that spirit on the battlefield and beyond.

You can delve into more about Joe’s incredible life on Wikipedia.

5) Received the Bronze Star

Joe Medicine Crow's heroic tales, including receiving the Bronze Star, are depicted in a collection of 8 incredible stories

Did you know Joe Medicine Crow was awarded the Bronze Star for his incredible bravery during World War II? This honor highlights some truly remarkable deeds.

Can you imagine sneaking into enemy areas and stealing horses? Joe Medicine Crow did that. He even stole Nazi horses, which was an astounding act of courage and skill.

He also led successful missions in Germany as a scout. His bravery didn’t go unnoticed by the U.S. Army.

Recognizing his heroic feats, they awarded him the Bronze Star.

Picture the pride and respect among his people and veterans alike.

Receiving the Bronze Star wasn’t just about the medal. It symbolized Joe Medicine Crow’s unmatched bravery and dedication.

Every action he took during the war was rooted in his warrior traditions. He became the last war chief of the Crow Tribe by completing four daring tasks.

The Bronze Star was a testament to his remarkable ability to blend his cultural heritage with his military service. You can learn more about his incredible journey and the recognition he received at Military.com.

6) Documented Oral Histories

Imagine sitting by a warm fire, listening to tales of bravery directly from the source. Joe Medicine Crow’s oral histories are just like that. He shared stories about his experiences in World War II and his incredible feats, captivating anyone who listened.

His oral histories offer more than just entertainment. They provide a unique perspective on historical events.

For instance, he talked about stealing horses from the Nazis. This act made him the last Plains Indian war chief. Can you picture that moment?

You can explore these accounts through programs like the Digital Collections of the National WWII Museum.

They house valuable oral histories shared by Medicine Crow himself.

These recordings help preserve his voice and memories for future generations.

Listen carefully to his tales. They’re not just stories; they’re lessons in courage and heritage.

By documenting his life, Joe Medicine Crow left behind a treasure trove of knowledge. Don’t miss out on these remarkable narratives!

7) Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Did you know Joe Medicine Crow received one of the highest honors in the United States?

In 2009, Joe Medicine Crow was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

This prestigious award, given by the President of the United States, recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the security or national interests of the country, world peace, or cultural endeavors.

Joe Medicine Crow’s award was not only a recognition of his incredible service and bravery during World War II.

As a scout in the 103rd Infantry Division, his heroic acts met the requirements to become a war chief of the Crow Tribe.

Besides his military accomplishments, Joe Medicine Crow was deeply respected for his work as a historian and writer. His writings on Native American history and culture have educated countless people.

Being awarded this medal placed him among other notable Medal of Freedom recipients, signifying his impact on both the military and historical fields.

It’s amazing to think one person could achieve so much, isn’t it? You can learn more about Joe Medicine Crow’s incredible life and contributions here.

8) Advocate for Native American Culture

A Native American elder shares stories around a campfire, surrounded by traditional symbols and artifacts. The night sky is filled with stars, creating a sense of wonder and connection to the past

Joe Medicine Crow didn’t just live his culture; he championed it. He spent his life teaching others about the rich history and traditions of the Crow Tribe. Imagine listening to him recount tales of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, making history come alive.

He gave lectures and wrote books that are considered essential for learning about Native American history. His words painted vivid pictures of reservation life, offering insights that textbooks often miss.

Joe earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009, a testament to his influence and dedication. If that doesn’t impress upon you his importance, think about the scholars who revere his work today. He wasn’t just a historian; he was a cultural bridge.

When you read his works, you’re not just learning; you’re experiencing the Crow culture through his eyes. It’s like getting a personal tour from someone who lived the stories. Joe’s advocacy ensured that the traditions and stories of his people continue to be shared and respected.

His impact was profound. Through lectures and writings, he made sure that future generations would understand and appreciate Native American culture. Joe Medicine Crow was, and remains, a vital voice in keeping these traditions alive.

Early Life and Education

Joe Medicine Crow's early life: teepee, plains, buffalo, and elders teaching traditions. Education: tribal ceremonies, storytelling, and warrior training

Joe Medicine Crow, born in Lodge Grass, Montana, on October 27, 1913, had a childhood rich in Crow cultural heritage. His education was equally significant, making him stand out in his community and paving the way for his later achievements.

Childhood Influences

Growing up on the Crow Indian Reservation, Joe Medicine Crow was deeply influenced by his heritage. His father, Leo Medicine Crow, was a war chief, and through him, Joe absorbed many traditional stories and values. His mother, Amy Yellowtail, ensured he was also connected to his maternal legacy.

Joe’s family environment immersed him in the warrior tradition. This gave him the skills and mindset that would later be vital in World War II.

Imagine a young Joe listening to tales of bravery and honor, learning about the achievements of his ancestors. These stories would have fired his imagination and instilled in him a deep sense of duty and cultural pride.

Educational Achievements

Joe Medicine Crow did not just rely on his cultural teachings. He pursued formal education with zeal. He graduated from high school and then went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Linfield College in Oregon.

Motivated by a thirst for knowledge, he furthered his education by earning a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Southern California.

During his academic journey, Joe focused on studying both his people’s history and broader anthropological concepts. This made him an invaluable historian and writer.

Military Service

A Native American man in military uniform, adorned with feathers and war paint, stands proudly with a rifle in hand. He is surrounded by the chaos of battle, capturing the bravery and resilience of Joe Medicine Crow

Joe Medicine Crow not only served in the army but also performed extraordinary feats during World War II that earned him the status of war chief. Let’s dive into his journey and heroic actions.

Joining the Army

Joe Medicine Crow enlisted in the Army during World War II. Born in 1913 on the Crow Reservation, he was deeply rooted in the warrior traditions of his people.

He joined the 103rd Infantry Division and found himself serving in Europe. His role involved being a scout, a position that perfectly suited his skills and background. Can you picture the bravery required for such a role?

Heroic Acts in World War II

Joe Medicine Crow’s acts of heroism in World War II are nothing short of inspiring. During the war, he fulfilled the four traditional tasks required to become a Crow war chief.

These tasks included touching a living enemy soldier, disarming an enemy, leading a successful war party, and stealing enemy horses.

One of the most famous stories involves him stealing horses from German soldiers, a feat that required immense courage and determination. He also demonstrated incredible bravery by capturing enemy positions, saving countless lives through his actions.

Legacy and Recognition

A Native American elder stands proudly in traditional attire, surrounded by symbols of his remarkable life achievements and honors

Joe Medicine Crow’s legacy is marked by cultural impact and numerous awards. His contributions to preserving Native American history and his remarkable wartime achievements have earned him widespread recognition.

Cultural Impact

Medicine Crow’s work as a historian and writer has provided a critical view into Native American history and culture. His documentation of the Crow people, their traditions, and their involvement in key historical battles has been invaluable.

Through his books and lectures, he educated many about the rich heritage of the Crow Tribe. He was the last living person to have heard direct oral history from someone who participated in the Battle of Little Bighorn, making his accounts unique and deeply personal.

Joe’s storytelling preserved and honored the experiences of his ancestors, ensuring they were never forgotten.

Awards and Honors

Joe Medicine Crow received numerous awards recognizing his service and contributions to history and culture. In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States.

This award highlighted his lifetime of achievements and his efforts to educate others about Native American history. He was also recognized by the National Park Service for his efforts in preserving the legacy of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

His role as a war chief and historian earned him both military and civilian honors, cementing his place as a highly respected figure in American history.

Frequently Asked Questions

A lone figure stands amidst a vast landscape, surrounded by towering mountains and a clear blue sky. The scene exudes a sense of awe and wonder, capturing the spirit of Joe Medicine Crow's incredible life stories

Joseph Medicine Crow was a remarkable figure known for his bravery, wisdom, and dedication to his people. Let’s explore some of the frequently asked questions about his life and contributions.

What key achievements led to Joseph Medicine Crow being recognized as a war chief?

Joseph Medicine Crow achieved significant feats that solidified his status as a war chief. One of his most notable accomplishments was stealing horses from the Nazis during World War II. He also captured and disarmed German soldiers, showcasing his courage and tactical prowess.

How did Joseph Medicine Crow contribute to World War II?

During World War II, Medicine Crow served as a scout for the 103rd Infantry Division. His bravery included leading a successful cavalry charge, an act that was both daring and inspirational.

What are the traditional Crow Nation criteria for becoming a war chief?

To become a war chief in the Crow Nation, a warrior needed to achieve four specific deeds. These included touching an enemy without killing him, taking an enemy’s weapon, leading a successful war party, and stealing horses from the enemy. Medicine Crow fulfilled all these criteria during his service in World War II.

Who are some of the most renowned chiefs in Crow history?

Some renowned chiefs from Crow history include Chief Plenty Coups, who was known for his leadership and vision, and White Man Runs Him, one of Medicine Crow’s grandfathers, who served as a scout for George Armstrong Custer. These leaders left lasting legacies within their community and beyond.

What notable actions did Joe Medicine Crow take during his lifetime?

Joe Medicine Crow was known for many notable actions. Apart from his military feats, he was a prolific writer and historian. He shared his knowledge of the Battle of the Little Bighorn through his writings and lectures. His dedication to preserving and promoting the history and culture of his people was unwavering.

Has Joe Medicine Crow’s life been depicted in any films or documentaries?

Yes, Joe Medicine Crow’s life has been featured in several documentaries. One prominent example is his appearance in Ken Burns’ documentary series “The War.” This series highlights his contributions and experiences during World War II.

His story continues to inspire and educate audiences worldwide.

About The Author
Dr. Laura Whitman | MemoryCherish
Dr. Laura Whitman | MemoryCherish

Dr. Laura Whitman is the Head of Education at MemoryCherish, the #1 photo restoration company in the world.

With a PhD in Art History and a specialization in photographic preservation, she brings an unrivaled breadth of knowledge to her role.
Over her 19-year tenure in the field, Dr. Whitman has become a respected authority on topics ranging from photo restoration techniques to historical context and genealogy.

Her work has been recognized by major media outlets such as ABC, NBC, and FOX News, and she has been trusted with collaborations by Adobe. As an educator, she has developed numerous 'how-to' guides and tutorials, making photo restoration accessible to millions.

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