On Sunday, Joseph Medicine Crow, an acclaimed Native American historian and last surviving war chief of Montana's Crow Tribe, has died. He was 102.

The Crow Nation and all of us are a slight bit lesser for his loss.

His Crow name was "High Bird," and he recalled listening as a child to stories about the Battle of Little Bighorn from those who were there, including his grandmother's brother, White Man Runs Him, a scout for Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.

Medicine Crow in 1939 became the first of his tribe to receive a master's degree, in anthropology. He served for decades as a Crow historian, cataloging his people's nomadic history by collecting firsthand accounts of pre-reservation life from fellow tribal members. During World War II, Medicine Crow earned the title of war chief after performing a series of daring deeds, including stealing horses from an enemy encampment and hand-to-hand combat with a German soldier whose life Medicine Crow ultimately spared.

Soon after returning from the European front, Medicine Crow was designated tribal historian by the Crow Tribal Council.

President Barack Obama awarded Medicine Crow the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Elected Officials Reactions:

Governor Steve Bullock:

Today, Lisa and I join Montanans to pay respect and celebrate the rich life of Dr. Joe Medicine Crow,” said Governor Bullock. “Joe was a Crow War Chief, veteran, elder, historian, author, and educator. His legacy will forever serve as an inspiration for all Native Americans – and all Montanans.

Senator Jon Tester:

Today, Montana lost a treasure.  Joe Medicine Crow was a soldier and a scholar, but above all he was a fierce advocate for Native American families.  When you spoke with Joe Medicine Crow, it was impossible not to be inspired.  I know his legacy will motivate generations of Montanans to follow in his footsteps and live a life dedicated to serving others.

Senator Steve Daines:

Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow leaves an unmatched legacy as the Crow Tribe's historian and storyteller, a decorated World War II veteran and the first member of the Crow Tribe to attain a master's degree,” Daines stated. “Medicine Crow's spirit, humility and life achievements leave a lasting imprint on Montana's history. My deepest condolences are with Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow's family and all of Crow Nation.

(Associated Press contributed to this story)