This sketch comes from an image of Medicine Crow from 1880:
Medicine Crow, Peelatchi-waaxpáash, born around 1848 in the area of the Musselshell, member of the New Made Lodge Acirārī’o clan and of the Lumpwood (Mara’xi’ce Knobbed Sticks) warrior society. According to his grandson, tribal historian and storyteller Joe Medicine Crow, Medicine Crow’s father, a prominent headman, was called Jointed Together and his mother was One Buffalo Calf. He wasn’t yet born when his father died, probably in the smallpox epidemic; his mother later married the noted medicine man Look At The Bulls Penis (better known as Sees The Living Bull or Bull Goes Hunting), who became an important figure in Medicine Crow’s youth. It is said that he looked for a vision at least three times; the fourth time, when he was eighteen, he fasted for 4 days and 3 nights; the fourth night, he had the vision of a white man who told him that he came from the land of the rising sun, and that many others like were coming to the Crow land and take possession of it. He then advised Medicine Crow of not opposing the newcomers, the White Eyes, and exhorted him to “deal with them wisely, and all would have turned out all right”. It is said that in other visions Medicine Crow foresaw the passing away of the buffalo, the building of the Big Horn Southern Railroad (“something black with round legs puffing smoke and pulling boxlike objects behind it”) and of planes (“wagons flying in the sky”). His medicine were the hawk and the eagle (even if, according to some reports, he had to “borrow” them, as he didn’t manage to get them in a personal vision).
He joined his first war party at 15 and, for the following nineteen years, he got the honors required to obtain chieftainship. He is said to have counted 3 first coups, wrestled away 5 weapons from an enemy, stolen 2 horses cutting the halter rope, and commanded 10 successful war parties. In tribal warfare, he made his most famous exploits against the Lakotas (sometimes together with his friend, River Crow Two Leggings): in 1874, he and his party annihilated 7 Lakotas entrenched in a deep washout; the Lakotas had already killed several Crows when Medicine Crow jumped with his horse in the washout, panicking the enemies who fled and were quickly dispatched.
In 1876, Medicine Crow, together with other 176 Crows joined general George Crook’s troops and fought in the Battle of the Rosebud (according to Joe Medicine Crow, it was Medicine Crow to “carry the pipe” for the Crow scouts, while Plenty Coups told Frank Linderman that he himself led the Crow warriors – Alligator Stands Up). Lt. John Bourke thus remembered the Crow leader “…Medicine Crow, the Crow chief, looked like a devil in his war bonnet of feathers, furs and buffalo horns”.
In 1877 Medicine Crow joined again the US troops in the fights against the Nez Percés. During a battle, a Nez Percé challenged him to combat and shot Medicine Crow’s horse under him. Medicine Crow went on his charge, jumping from side to side until he pounced on the Nez Percé, wrestling his weapon away from him and then allowing him to re join his comrades (Crow used to be allies of the Nez Percés).
In 1880 Medicine Crow, together with a delegation composed of other five tribesmen went to Washington, D.C. to discuss settlements in the Crow agency, the selling of Crow lands and the eventual division of the land into individual farms. Medicine Crow later settled in Lodge Grass Creek, taking up farming and playing an important role during the 1887 Sword Bearer incident when, together with Pretty Eagle and Plenty Coups, he managed to keep the tribe united. During the early 1900s, he opposed firmly the selling of the Crow lands and in 1890 he was appointed as tribal judge.
Medicine Crow died in 1920 and is buried on the Valley of Chieftains (in the Little Big Horn area). He is said to have taken 6 wives; from the last one, Medicine Sheep, he had 4 sons (Cassie, Hugh, Leo and Chester). Leo Medicine Crow fathered Chief Joseph Medicine Crow, who’s now 96 and considered one of the official tribal historians.