Medicine Crow was a warrior from the time he first went on the warpath at the age of fifteen until his last battle in 1877. He attained chieftaincy about 1870 at the age of twenty-two, and from then on he set the pace for aspiring young warriors of his people. Until his death in 1920, at the age of seventy-two, he was a “reservation chief,” concerned with helping the Crow tribe “learn to live in the ways of the white man” as soon and as efficiently as possible. He went to see the Great Father in Washington many times on behalf of his people.
Medicine Crow, whose name is more accurately translated as Sacred Raven, was born somewhere in the Musselshell country in 1848. His father, also a great chief, was Jointed Together, and his mother was One Buffalo Calf. This was a time of trial for the Absarokee, for the population of the tribe had been reduced from more than 8,000 to fewer than 1,000 by the smallpox epidemic of the mid-1840’s. Now the tribe had to be made strong again, lest surrounding hostile tribes succeed in finishing the job the deadly pox had begun—annihilating the Crows.
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