The last Crow war chief entered the log-cabin trading post at the edge of the Little Bighorn Battlefield just after noon on a Sunday, supported by his son on his left and a cane held firmly in his right hand.
Often, at tribal events such as powwows, he’ll swing his cane overhead in celebration. But on this October afternoon, with wind sweeping across the stretch of southern Montana that’s home to the Crows, the cane simply supported the centenarian — Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow in English or High Bird, his traditional name, in Crow.
“I was fortunate when I was growing up,” he said, after a lunch of stew, frybread and pie at the trading post’s cafe. “The Crow Indians were still retaining the culture, and they felt it was their duty to teach me to carry on the tribal heritage.”
In turn, he’s made it his duty to document and share it.