Joe Medicine Crow Tapped for U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom
August 01, 2009 by Linda Ann Nickerson
Native American Historian and War Hero to Be Honored August 12th U.S. President Barack Obama will present the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom to Joseph Medicine Crow - High Bird, a 95-year-old Native American World War II hero and historian, and 15 other notables on August 12, 2009, in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor awarded in the United States. By definition, "The Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." U.S. Senators Alan Simpson (R-WY) and Jon Tester (D-MT) nominated Joe Medicine Crow for the high honor. "An American hero, Joe earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom a long time ago," said Tester. "His lifetime of hard work, his devotion to the Crow Tribe and his dedication to this country will always be remembered." Joe Medicine Crow has already received several significant honors, including the U.S. Bronze Star, the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, the French Legion of Honor and others. During World War II, Joe Medicine Crow donned Native American war paint while wearing his American military uniform. He became legendary after stealing some 50 horses from a Nazi war camp. According to lore, Joe Medicine Crow sang Crow battle songs during his heroic exploits. Grandson to White Man Runs Him, a Native American scout for U.S. General George Armstrong Custer, Joe Medicine Crow served as the Crow Tribe historian after World War II. In this capacity, he published several historical accounts. Joe Medicine Crow is the last surviving Crow war chief and the first to receive an academic master's degree. Born on a Montana reservation in 1913, Joe Medicine Crow earned his advanced degree in 1939, studying anthropology at the University of Southern California. Upon enrolling in the U.S. Army for World War II, Joe Medicine Crow curtailed his doctoral studies. Currently, Joe Medicine Crow holds three honorary PhDs.