The legacy of an Apsalooka man will soon extend to the California coast.
A building at the University of Southern California will be dedicated this spring as the Dr Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs, in honor of the man who graduated from the university . His degree was one of many accolades Medicine Crow won throughout his life, which led him from the Crow Nation to academia and the battlefield.
âHe’s a successful local boy,â said his son, Ronald Medicine Crow.
Joseph Medicine Crow, who would ultimately receive four honorary doctorates and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was born in a log cabin in 1913 near what is now known as Lodge Grass. Before setting foot in a classroom, he learned about the Plains Wars from his family who had lived through them. He also received traditional training from his grandfather, Yellowtail. This training consisted of barefoot riding, playing a game, and running barefoot in the snow, all before the age of 10.
As the first member of the Crow Tribe to attend college, he began his college career at Bacone College in Oklahoma before earning his bachelor’s degree from Linfield College in Oregon. He continued his studies in Los Angeles. He went to USC on a scholarship to complete his Masters in Anthropology in 1939. His published thesis, “The Effects of European Cultural Contacts on the Economic, Social, and Religious Life of the Crow Indians”, was an early indication of his prowess. as a historian and defender of indigenous cultures.
âHe did everything he could to improveâ¦ He felt that the best hope for success, like Chief Plenty Coups, was that with education you are the equal of a white man. Without it, you are its victim, âRonald Medicine Crow said.
His father was on track to earn his doctorate in anthropology at USC when he joined the United States Army to serve in World War II. In addition to obtaining the Bronze Star and the French Legion of Honor while deployed to Europe, he completed all of the actions required to become a Crow warlord.
Upon his return to Montana after the war, he went from soldier to historian and humanitarian. Appointed official tribal historian in 1948, he published several books retracing the major events in his life and the lives of his elders.
âFrom the start, when he heard the stories of the old chiefs, he was a recorder of history and told those stories later in life. He had a real ability to bring it all together, âsaid Ronald Medicine Crow.
The building to be named Medicine Crow stands out on the USC campus, with a tall tower capped with a globe. It was previously named after former USC president Rufus von KleinSmid. University administrators withdrew his name following community outcry for human support for eugenics throughout the first half of the 20th century.
A committee tasked with choosing the building’s new name chose Joseph Medicine Crow from a group of 200 people. His courage, determination and the fact that he has spent his entire life living at a crossroads of cultures have made him a perfect candidate for the building of international and public affairs, the current president of the Gazette told The Gazette. USC, Carol L. Folt.
While being both a historian for the Crow Indian Tribe and a Chief until his death at the age of 102, Medicine Crow also spent 32 years working for the Office of Indian Affairs. He had previously told The Gazette that he lived in “two worlds”.
While he has printed everything he has learned from generations dating back to Chief Plenty Coups, he has also witnessed rampant racism against the Crow and other Indigenous tribes. This included witnessing the federal extermination of Indian ponies on the Crow, Northern Cheyenne and Wind River reservations after farmers complained that the animals were eating too much grass.
âThe government did its best to turn these people into white men,â Medicine Crow told The Gazette in a 2006 interview. âYeah, they tried. But we had what you might call cultural persistence. “
In the months leading up to the dedication ceremony, Folt said the university would also develop a scholarship named after Medicine Crow and an exhibit honoring his legacy. In Billings, a college and VA clinic are named after him.
âGetting a master’s degree in anthropology did him justice. Being the humanitarian who was, his mission and his burden was to help people. Not just the Crow people … He had nothing to worry about with anyone. Dad was concerned about the state of mankind, âsaid Ronald Medicine Crow.