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Joe Medicine Crow, war chief and scholar, dies aged 102

Joe Medicine Crow has passed away at the age of 102. The last Plains Indian war chief, he received a Presidential Medal of Freedom for his daring feats in Europe during World War II.

Medicine Crow, the last surviving war chief of Montana's Crow tribe, died on Sunday.

"Joe was a Crow War Chief, veteran, elder, historian, author, and educator," said a statement from Montana governor Steve Bullock, who also honored the legendary figure on Twitter.

Born in a rural area near Lodge Grass in central Montana, Medicine Crow was raised by his parents to be a warrior, engaging in intense physical training from an early age. In 1939, he became the first member of his tribe to earn a master's degree, but following the onslaught of World War II he left the academic world and volunteered for military service.

USA Washington Joe Medicine Crow und Barack Obama (l)

President Obama honored Medicine Crow with the Medal of Freedom in 2009

A warrior and a scholar

In Europe, where he served as an army scout, Medicine Crow put his training to use and completed the four tasks necessary to earn the title Crow War Chief: he led a charge behind enemy lines, he entered an enemy encampment and stole horses, he disarmed an enemy and he made physical contact with an enemy without killing him.

Following the war, he was made the new tribal historian by the Crow Tribal Council. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

"[His] life reflects not only the warrior spirit of the Crow people, but America's highest ideals," Obama said.

blc/msh (AFP, AP)

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