US & Canada

Native American chief Joe Medicine Crow dies aged 102

Barack Obama presents Joe Medicine Crow with the Presidential Medal of Freedom Image copyright AP
Image caption President Obama awarded Joe Medicine Crow the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009

The historian, World War Two veteran and chief of Montana's Crow tribe Joe Medicine Crow has died aged 102.

His grandfather was a scout for US military commander George Custer, who lost his life in the Battle of Little Big Horn fighting Native Americans.

Medicine Crow earned the title of war chief in his tribe through stealing horses and other exploits during World War Two.

He later worked as his tribe's historian, lecturing into his nineties.

"When you spoke with Joe Medicine Crow, it was impossible not to be inspired," Montana senator Jon Tester tweeted.

War bravery

Medicine Crow was raised on the Crow Reservation in the state of Montana where he spent much of his life.

He was the first of his tribe to get a master's degree in 1939, later helping catalogue his people's history through oral testimony.

To become a war chief he successfully performed four daring deeds, including wrestling a weapon from an enemy warrior - in his case a Nazi soldier.

"I never got a scratch," he said decades on, the Billings Gazette reported.

In 2009. President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"His contributions to the preservation of the culture and history of the First Americans are matched only by his importance as a role model to young Native Americans across the country," the White House said at the time.

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