From Where We Are

USC honors Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow with building renaming

The opening of the Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs was celebrated by the USC community

[Group of people stands in front of newly-named Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs.]

After long deliberation, USC’s former Von Kleinschmidt Center -- a central building on the main campus -- has a new name. Today USC held a dedication ceremony for the newly named Doctor Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs.

The honoree Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, was the last war chief of the Apsaalooke or Crow tribe. He served in the United States Army in World War II.. and also received his master’s degree at USC in 1939 and an honorary doctorate in 2003. Patrick Warren has the story.

The dedication of the Joseph Medicine Crow Center for International and Public Affairs was presented by the family of Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, USC President Carol Folt, and members of the Native American Student Assembly.

The former Von Kleinschmidt Center, located in the heart of campus and home to programs such as international relations, art history, and political science, has officially changed its name following years of student protests in which they said they did not want a building named after a racist and a supporter of eugenics. After a year-long process, a committee of faculty, staff, students, and alumni selected Medicine Crow as the person to be honored with his name on the building.

Raegan Kirby is a member of the Native American Student Assembly.. She says this name change is a significant step toward representation.

“Being able to see in print something with your identity on it is very, very important. And for prospective students and staff, having that type of representation that’s concrete on a building can be great as well. However, at the same time, I don’t think that our efforts should stop there.”

Hundreds of student, faculty, and community members attended the outdoor ceremony. The celebration unfolded with performances by the USC marching band, speeches from Joseph Medicine Crow’s son, Ron, and President Folt, and also members of the Native American Student Assembly.

President Folt spoke after the ceremony about the significance of the name change.

“This will help people in the building every day, it will help our Native communities every day, our historians. I think it is going to help everybody feel proud of their university and maybe want to learn a lot more about Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow and our indigenous cultures.”

In just a few years, USC has made progress in developing resources for native and indigenous students.. says the Native American Student Assembly member Raegan Kirby

“At the time when I was applying to USC, I remember like looking up like what programs they had available for native and indigenous students. The most that I saw was like a small club and a native studies miner that was like not even put in tact. And now the club, of course, has turned into an assembly: NASA.”

Today marks a special moment for the USC native community, but Raegan Kirby says there is still work to be done.

“On behalf of the student body, there needs to be more responsibility in calling out people who are just ignorant to a lot of Native issues and speak out on it in class.”

Now that we have the new Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow Center at USC, one wonders if there are other formerly acceptable people honored here who might also one day have their names removed.

For Annenberg Media, I’m Patrick Warren.