Counting Coup: Becoming a Crow Chief on the Reservation and Beyond
Picture a Crow Indian elder, his wizened eyes catching yours in the ancient flicker of firelight. His mesmerizing stories span the ages, from Custer to World War II to the 21st Century. He is the last traditional chief of his people. He is over 90 years old. Now picture that same man lecturing at colleges nationwide, and addressing the United Nations on the subject of peace.
National Geographic presents the amazing life story of Joseph Medicine Crow, the man who begins life as Winter Man. Trained as a warrior by his grandfather, Yellowtail, he bathes in icy rivers and endures the ceremony of "counting coup"—facing fierce combat with an enemy Sioux boy.
An operation at the local hospital brings the young Crow face-to-face with his worst fears: a Sioux, a ghost, and a white man. He excels at the white man's school and is raised in the Baptist faith. He translates the stories of the elder chiefs, becoming the link to the ancient traditions of the pre-reservation generation. His own dramatic and funny stories span both ages, and the ancient Crow legends are passed on in the storytelling tradition.
Joseph Medicine Crow's doctorate degree was interrupted by the call to arms of World War II. On the battlefields of Germany he earned the ancient status of War Chief by completing the four war deeds required of the Crow warrior.
In 1948 the Crow Tribal Council appointed Joseph Medicine Crow (now called High Bird) their Tribal Historian and Anthropologist.
Counting Coup is a vibrant adventure narrative, bringing Native American history and culture alive for young readers. Joseph Medicine Crow's story illuminates the challenges faced by the Crow people as hurricanes of change raged through America. His epic story and its lessons are an essential legacy for us all.
An important story of early 20th century reservation life
By S. A. Topping - February 15, 2007
Joe Medicine Crow is a national treasure. Born on the Crow Reservation in the early years of the twentieth century, he was raised among Indians who lived during the buffalo hunting days. Grandparents Medicine Crow and Yellowtail were important Crow leaders whose homes were the place of many gatherings. Joe soaked up the stories like a sponge, and he has been an invaluable source of tribal stories. In this book, in particular, he talks about his own upbringing, as his people's traditions adapted to life in America in the new century. He writes of his life using compassion and humor, but the difficulties he faced are clear. That he has led such a strong life is testimony to the fine man that he is. I found this book tremendously enjoyable, and the glimpse it gave me into this forgotten era is priceless.
Living in Crow Country
By Dr. William Plank - June 3, 2007
Mr. Medicine Crow is an impressive man, about 90 years old now. The book is written in the brief and blunt sentences as he would speak English. He lived up to the old ways of the Crow when he stole fifty German horses from under their noses in World War II. A landmark in Indian literature.
By Mary E. Young "JanaRose1" - March 1, 2011
Born in 1913 on the Crow Indian Reservation, Joseph Medicine Crow recounts his childhood, training to become a Crow warrior and his experiences in World War II. I found this book to be, although interesting, a slow read. It was written in an unemotional matter-of-fact way, rather than in a story-telling manner. Overall, I believe a child would become bored with this book and turn to more adventure-type stories.