Chief Joseph Medicine Crow died yesterday at the age of 102, and an era of history died with him. He was the last living War Chief of the Crow Tribe of Montana.
To be considered a War Chief by the Crow Tribe, an Indian must complete four tasks:
- Lead a successful war party
- Disarm an enemy
- Touch an enemy without killing him
- Steal a horse that belonged to the enemy
Chief Joseph Medicine Crow did all four of these and more during World War II; however, instead of stealing 1 horse, he was able to sneak behind enemy lines and steal 50 horses that belonged to the Nazi SS.
Over 44,000 Native Americans, Indians like Chief Medicine Crow, served during the second world war. The story of their service is one of bravery, and I give thanks for their sacrifice. Several of these men were awarded the Medal of Honor.
Herman Viola, curator emeritus at the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, said it was hard to overstate Mr. Medicine Crow’s value as a link to history: “Joe personally knew four scouts that had been with Custer . . . it was unbelievable to meet someone who could really give you insights into that time period.”
As I read Viola’s statement, it reminded me of another eyewitness to historical events—the Apostle John:
[I am writing about] what existed from the beginning, what [a]we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life [the One who existed even before the beginning of the world, Christ]— and the Life [an aspect of His being] was manifested, and we have seen [it as eyewitnesses] and testify and declare to you [the Life], the eternal Life who was [already existing] with the Father and was [actually] made visible to us [His followers]— what we have seen and heard we also proclaim to you, so that you too may have fellowship [as partners] with us. And indeed our fellowship [which is a distinguishing mark of born-again believers] is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things to you so that our joy [in seeing you included] may be made complete [by having you share in the joy of salvation] ~I John 1:1-4 Amplified
Historians like Viola get excited about Chief Medicine Crow’s “eyewitness” account, and rightly so, but shouldn’t they also give credence to other “eyewitness” of history like the Apostle John?