Joe Medicine Crow featured in Economist obituary


A young Joe Medicine Crow.

In my estimation, there are few posthumous honors quite like being the subject of an obituary in The Economist, a weekly news magazine based in London but widely available in this country.

Each week, the last page of the publication carries an obituary, sometimes of a person quite well known but often of relatively obscure people. No matter who it is, the obituaries are so well written that I can’t imagine anyone ever questioning the wisdom of the latest selection.

This week, the subject of The Economist’s obituary is Joseph Medicine Crow, the last of the Crow Indian war chiefs who died earlier this month at 102. It is a beautifully written piece, built around the story of how, as a young soldier in World War II, Medicine Crow made off with a herd of horses belonging to some German SS officers.

Here’s a sample:

“His childhood training had included facing his worst fears. ‘High Bird’ was his Crow name, the imperturbable floating eagle. He had been made to jump into freezing rivers, fight with a Sioux boy, go to the white hospital full of doctors and ghosts, and to the public school where a white girl had stuck pins in him. Not many months back, he had been ordered to lead a squad through enemy machinegun fire to carry out some dynamite: to face death, in other words. His commanding officer had naturally assumed he would be the ideal man to do it.”

It is quite an honor, and well-deserved.

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