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Nation

Crow Nation

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The Crow Nation has always governed itself and its territory. Traditional governance and leadership was through consent of the people. Today, the Crow Nation covers approximately 2,300,000 acres of land making it the fifth largest Indian Nation by land area in the United States. It is located in south-central Montana with the government headquarters located in Crow Agency, Montana. The government of Crow Nation consists of the General Council, made up of all eligible Crow Nation citizens of 18 years or older, as well as elected executive officials, a legislative branch called the Crow Nation Legislature, and the judicial branch or the Crow Tribal Courts.

Passage from The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teaching Given to John G. Neihardt

by Raymond J. DeMallie
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"Sharp Nose, an Arapahoe citizen, made a sacred bundle and with his pipe in hand approached a Crow community, not knowing whether he or his brother-in-law Big Plume would be spared.

After all, the two Arapahoe's intent was to retrieve horses some Crows had taken from them.

However, these two nations understood the bundle's import, which included a pipe.

He [Sharp Nose] had a [piece of] red flannel and mixed the tobacco and willow bark and tallow [fat] and put it in a dried bladder and then in the red flannel. This is a "sacred bundle." All tribes respect that....This sacred bundle is used to make peace and to make relationships among the Indians.

In an elaborate welcoming ceremony that followed Sharp Nose's and Big Plume's initial contact with the Crow, the Crow leadership supplied the two Arapahoe with meaningful gifts and nourishment.

Thereafter, the Crow offered them a pipe, asking, 'What are you? Where did you come from? What business have you? Why do you bring this sacred bundle? Tell us nothing but the truth. You have smoked the peace pipe and must tell the truth.'

The two Arapahoe explained their purpose for coming into Crow country. They had risked their lives coming to the Crow Nation but the sacred bundle and pipe signaled to everyone the Arapahoe peaceful intention.

The Crow not only returned the horses but they also reciprocated the gesture. . . and when the welcome concluded, an Arapahoe leader extended his hand in friendship to the Crow man, gave him the pipe of peace and said, 'Hereafter we will be friends.'"

In this passage from The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt, Black Elk ( Oglala Lakota ) recounts a story that involves how, with the use of a pipe and a sacred bundle, the Crow and Arapahoe Nations established peace.
pipe
In this passage from The Sixth Grandfather: Black Elk's Teachings Given to John G. Neihardt, Black Elk ( Oglala Lakota ) recounts a story that involves how, with the use of a pipe and a sacred bundle, the Crow and Arapahoe Nations established peace.

Pipe bowl and pipe stem, Crow. Catlinite/pipestone. Montana. NMAI 012599
The late Joseph Medicine Crow was his tribe's historian of distinction. Dr. Medicine Crow performed the four deeds necessary to become a Crow Chief during World War II: He captured a well-guarded horse; took an enemy's weapon; counted coup on (struck) the enemy; and led a successful war party and returned home safely.

Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow shows a drum to President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama during a reception for recipients and their families in the Blue Room of the White House, August 12, 2009. Photograph by Pete Souza

"The Crow Nation, we're Apsáalooke Nation. That's what we refer to ourselves as, Apsáalooke. The Apsáalooke, we come from a warrior tradition. It wasn't about, one day they woke up and said, from now on we're going to be warriors . . . they wanted to protect their homeland from being invaded by whoever it was—whether it be Blackfeet to the north or the Arapahos and Sioux —and so they basically had to train themselves to become warriors. And for Indian people, warriors meant protecting. Protecting the family, protecting the home. And they would be the front lines, protecting their homeland and what they believed in. And they never backed down."

Darrin Old Coyote (Crow), NMAI Interview, August 2016

Darrin Old Coyote was the twenty-first chairman of the Crow Nation. His Apsáalooke name is Ishbilxe Itche and he is a member of the Piegan clan and a child of the Ties in a Bundle and Whistling Water clans. As a tribal chairman, Mr. Old Coyote has a deep commitment to building the tribal economy and strengthening Crow sovereignty .

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