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From The Heart Of The Crow Country: The Crow Indians’ Own Stories Joseph Medicine Crow Crown 1 edition

31st January 2012 History Books 6 Comments

“Homespun slices of Crow archaeology, mythic history, and living memory . . . Always rewarding.”Ethnohistory (Ethnohistory ) –This text refers to the Paperback edition.

A highly respected elder of the Crow tribe draws on stories he has collected throughout his lifetime to offer a unique glimpse of American Indian culture as Indians themselves know it. “No one who hungers to understand what America lost when it destroyed the Plains Indian cultures should miss this exciting little book.”–Tony Hillerman.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

A highly respected elder of the Crow tribe draws on stories he has collected throughout his lifetime to offer a unique glimpse of American Indian culture as Indians themselves know it. "No one who hungers to understand what America lost when it destroyed the Plains Indian cultures should miss this exciting little book."–Tony Hillerman.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

“Homespun slices of Crow archaeology, mythic history, and living memory . . . Always rewarding.”Ethnohistory –This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From The Heart Of The Crow Country: The Crow Indians’ Own Stories (Library of the American Indian)

Counting Coup and Cutting Horses: Intertribal Warfare on the Northern Plains, 1738-1889

McGinnis has produced a useful synthesis of tribal warfare and a compelling argument that brings some order out of the confusion of shifting alliances and short interludes of peace that dominated Indian life on the Northern Plains. Understanding the role that combat played in the lives of Plains Indians is essential to comprehending why Plains warriors found a life of enforced peace empty of meaning.Thomas R. Wessel, Western Historical Quarterly (Thomas R. Wessel Western Historical Quarterly )

One of the books most valuable features is a long bibliographical essay, which lists and evaluates numerous primary sources and secondary works. A graduate student or budding scholar interested in Plains Indian history would find this a useful place to begin.Roy W. Meyer, American Historical Review (Roy W. Meyer American Historical Review )

In preparing this book, Anthony McGinnis consulted a wide variety of sources, including early travelers accounts, government reports, and studies by other authorities, to present a comprehensive history of the conflict. Some content has been dealt with elsewhere, though not as sweepingly as here. Most significantly, McGinnis helps to further define the Indians motivations and explain their responses to the ideas, products, and events that affected them throughout the culturally critical mid-1800s. . . . Counting Coup and Cutting Horses merits attention as a worthwhile contribution to the field of Indian history.Jerome A. Greene, Montana: The Magazine of Western History (Jerome A. Greene Montana: The Magazine of Western History )

Counting Coup and Cutting Horses is the comprehensive history of more than 150 years of intertribal warfare between northern Plains tribes and a study of the complex rivalries that prevailed among the Native societies that migrated into and around the region. It is a sweeping drama about the warriors perpetual search for gloryfrom the plains of Nebraska to the grasslands of Saskatchewan, from the fields of Minnesota to the forests of Montana. It is also about the attempts of private interests and the U.S. government to control tribal warfare for their own purposes, and, ultimately, to end it.
Counting Coup and Cutting Horses: Intertribal Warfare on the Northern Plains, 1738-1889

  • 6 responses to "From The Heart Of The Crow Country: The Crow Indians’ Own Stories Joseph Medicine Crow Crown 1 edition"

  • Nathan Davies
    10:52 on January 31st, 2012
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    As a member of the Crow (Apsaalooke) Tribe I recommend this book. I especially like the story of the warrior “Plays with His Face.” I like this book and my sons do too. Buy it, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Jolynn Ordona
    15:18 on January 31st, 2012
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    Joseph Medicine Crow was officially designated as the tribal historian and anthropologist by the Crow Tribal Council in 1948. One of his grandfathers, Medicine Crow, was one of the tribe’s last war chiefs and a signer of the 1880 treaty with the United States. His great-uncle, White-Man Runs Him, was one of Custer’s favorite Crow scouts. At a young age, Joseph Medicine Crow began collecting stories of the elderly Crows as well as members of their tradition enemies, the Sioux and Cheyenne. From the Heart of Crow Country, his first book, is a combination of oral tradition and the written record. The result is a unique compilation of stories and history from the Crow and other Northern Plains tribes.
    This short book is comprised of several short stories and anecdotes from the Crow perspective. Beginning with the creation of the Crow people, the book offers brief sections on Crow society such as Crow social organization, military organization, religion, economy, language, and physical appearance. Emphasizing the importance of land and hunting ground, he tells the Crow story of migration, which contrasts with the “whites’” version of the same progression. He explains the purposes of war, and how its prime objective was not bloodshed or manslaughter, but rather [for the Indian] to distinguish himself in battle. He explains the requirements necessary for becoming a chief, including “counting coup” on one’s enemy, ridden an opponent of a weapon, taking an enemy’s horse, and commanding a war party successfully. Intertribal warfare on the Plains, a “dangerous sport through which young men climbed the military ladder to attain chieftaincy,” is discussed using oral history. Medicine Crow recounts the way in which the Crows hunted buffalo before they had horses. He offers an analysis of techniques used in luring, driving, and stampeding buffalo over cliffs. At certain points in a chapter, he will “switch” to from the oral history of one Crow to the voice of another, to finish the story from a different perspective. At other times, he will employ archival research to fill in certain gaps such as the names of places, or years and stipulations of treaties.
    Medicine Crow believes it is his job to close the gap between legend and reality in the telling of the history of his people. He writes, “as oral and recorded history reach back into the past and begin to support and substantiate the legendary, the gap begins to close and a starting point is finally found from which some continuity can be identified and maintained” (16). This method of using archival history to, in a sense, “validate by scholarly standards” specific details of traditional oral history results in a well rounded account of previously undocumented historical events. The importance of this book is the documentation of oral history, and the friendly and accessible manner in which it is presented. For scholars, this book could use the help of an editor to introduce certain sections and provide a more coherent system of organization.

  • TrafficWarden
    15:43 on January 31st, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Much of the popular understanding of the Plains Indians is based on the extensive and ubiquitous literature on Lakota Sioux. Other tribes, such as the Crows (Absarokee), the Arapaho, or Gros Ventres tend to be overlooked. Especially Crows. These beautiful people were THE principal enemy of the Lakota and although just a fraction of their number, the Crows were very successful in heckling the Sioux bands and keeping them at bay.

    These book is a recapitulation of the stories of such exploits. Stories, which would have been forgotten, if not for Joseph Medicine Crow… we hear about the introduction of the horse (in 1700s; the Crows call the horse “ichilay”, which means “to search with”), the “buffalo jumps”, invented by the Crows, and the interminable war parties and horse-stealing. The war was not waged for conquest, gain of property or territory: it was the ultimate sport, a game of wits, chivalry, bravery and honor between the tribes. The Crows were incredibly successful in raising horses: so succesful that in 1919 the secretary of the interior issued orders that they must get rod of their horses. The governement contracted bounty hunters, hired planes and helicopters and killed tens of thousands of animals… a tragic and traumatic experience for the Crows, which was worse than the military defeat. Still, the Absarokee were spared, to a large extent, the large scale depredations by the US military, due to to the role played by a Frenchman named Pierre Chienne, who practicaly wrote the provisions of the treaty that chief Blackfoot signed in 1868.

    There are many stories about grizzly hunting, about old shamans, vision quests and military exploits. About the historic defeat of the Sioux, who tried to exterminate the Crow tribe in 1900s once and for all by attacking with 10 000 warriors. And lost.

    In short, this is an entertaining and informative book about a remarkable people. i recommend it highly.

  • mark holton
    8:22 on February 1st, 2012
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    This book is written by a Crow oral and written historian who is not only a respected elder of the Crow tribe, but had both Medicine Crow, a leading war chief, and Yellowtail, or a sundance Medicine Rock Chief, as grandfathers.

    His writings here concern mainly the Crow tribe but also briefly encompass the Hidatsa, Lakota, the Cheyenne, the Arapahoe, the Atsina, and the Gros Ventres. For me the more interesting of the tails told have to do with what he calls “pre-reservation days” or the Crow tribe before 1870.

    He tells us that the name Crow originates from the white man’s error in interpretation of Northern Plains sign language, seeing ‘crow’ rather than ‘bird’. The earliest men (La Verendryes, 1743) to meet the Crows were from Canada and they called them ‘beaux hommes’ or ‘handsome men’. More properly the Absarokee should be known from their relative’s (the Hidatsa) language, as “children of the large-beaked bird”. They were also known among other Indian tribes as ‘sharp people’ and by the Dakotas as the ‘raven people’. However, he uses both the Crow and Absarokee terms generally throughout the book.

    Interestingly he makes mention that the Bozeman Trail cut directly through the Crow country and that in 1825 the first treaty between the Crows and U.S. Government was signed. He also mentions the matriarchal clans, divided into tribes and sub-tribes broken down from early times into the River Crow and the Mountain Crow. This division stems from the 16th or 17th century as the tribe moved west to become followers of the buffalo herds. The Absarokee language is of Siouan stock similar to both Sioux and Hidatsa. Originally the Crow Indians were woodland dwellers south of Lake Superior and west of Lake Michigan, drought and hunger forced them westward onto the plains.

    His tales are history but history through the actions of past members of the tribe. He also talks of the four acts of bravery for a young man to accomplish should that man wish to be a chief of the Crow tribe. One of the more interesting members of the Crow tribe for me, besides Chief Medicine Crow and Two Leggings, was Pierre Chienne. Pierre was a trader, a mountain man, a squaw man, and, speaking perfect Crow language, an interpreter for the Crow Indians. To sum him up “Pierre Chienne practically wrote the provisions for the treaty (Fort Laramie Treaty, 1868) that have served the (Crow) tribe well to this day.”.

    Listed below are the chapters of this book:

    The Crow Country
    The Crow Indians
    Early History
    Recent History
    Relations with the United States
    Patterns of Absarokee Culture
    Social Organization
    Military Organization
    Religious Organization
    Economic Orgainization
    Physical Appearance
    Manner of Dress
    Camp Activities
    Population Trends
    Important Events of Crow Tribe
    The Crow Migration Story
    Sits in the Middle of the Land
    Medicine Crow
    Inter tribal Warfare
    Crow Indians and Buffalo Jumps
    About Crow Indian Horses
    Crow Humor

    While this book may not be the only book for one to read concerning the Crow Indians, history and culture, it is a very excellent and very readable book in itself. I’ve several more to read in my library but this one fits in well with all the others.

  • Chris Amaral
    13:15 on February 3rd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    Anthony McGinnis’ excellent book, COUNTING COUP AND CUTTING HORSES: INTERTRIBAL WARFARE ON THE NORTHERN PLAINS 1738-1889, is worth having if you’re the least bit interested in Plains Indians, the History of the American West or the role of technology in history. McGinnis writes well and documents his narrative with endnotes and a very helpful bibliography.

    One thing this book accomplished for me was that it raised a curtain on the history of Montana and Great Plains. Although I suspected that things were happening out here before the fur traders, Lewis and Clark and other early pioneers appeared on the scene, it wasn’t clear how interesting these events really were.

    McGinnis also clarifies the impact of horses, iron (kettles, projectile points), horses, guns, blankets upon the various tribes which still live here, as well as some that don’t. The book establishes that a well well-defined pattern of conflict existed long before whites drifted into it. This is not the usual view of the advancing frontier I’d come to expect and I’m grateful to McGinnis for this eye-opening study.

    I enjoyed reading it and recommend it highly. It makes a great companion to an older book, CHANGING MILITARY PATTERNS OF THE GREAT PLAINS INDIANS, by Frank Raymond Secoy.

    McGinnis’ book is becoming more difficult to locate, but it’s definitely worth the effort. If you can find one, buy it!

  • John Leung
    0:18 on February 5th, 2012
    Reply to comment

    From the Heart of the Crow Country is a unique book by Joseph Medicine Crow, oral historian of the tribe. Filled with stories, observations, biographical portraits, accounts of hunting, warring and religious practices, and even examples of Crow Indian humour, From the Heart of Crow Country is a valuable compilation enriched by many black and white historic photos of Crow Indians, including the author’s own parents and family. Convincing cultural and religious parallels are drawn such as between Jesus’ fasting for 40 days and a Sun Dancer’s fasting for 4 days. In this vein a good definition is given of a holy man: “This special person is the product of three factors coming into conjunction: First is the event or situation at hand; second is a man with capability and intelligence; and third is this man’s definition of the situation, which leads to the solution’s becoming a reality. The result of the successful conjunction of these three factors is the emergence of a new leader, who brings about the final release of the people from their predicament (p.55).” A chronology of Crow history is included that highlights major events of Absarokee History from ca.1500 to 1962. From The Heart Of The Crow Country is a fully authentic work that has value and appeal to both scholars and general readers, elegantly voiced, and easily read.

    Nancy Lorraine, Reviewer

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