Lakota spiritual leader, activist Leonard Crow Dog dead at 78

Chief Leonard Crow Dog, a spiritual leader and Native American activist, died Sunday. He was 78.

>> Read more trending news

Crow Dog died at the Paradise on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, after a battle with cancer, Indian Country Today reported.

In a statement, Rosebud Sioux Tribe President Rodney Bordeaux, said that Crow Dog “learned from the University of the Universe, as he would say, and he shared his understanding of WoLakota with our Sicangu Oyate, the Oceti Sakowin, and Peoples of all Nations.”

“Leonard was in touch with the sacred power that connects all of us and the Creation. Leonard Crow Dog was the spiritual advisor to the American Indian Movement and close friends with Russell Means,” Bordeaux said. “He stood for human rights, and he knew that the Lakota received our rights from the Creator -- our breath of life, freedom to dream and live our visions, and our sacred duty to protect Unci Maka, Grandmother Earth.”

Crow Dog attended and spoke at rallies, marches and protests through the years, according to The Associated Press. He also co-authored a 1996 book, “Crow Dog: Four Generations of Sioux Medicine Men,” with Richard Erdoes. The book tells the story of Crow Dog’s ancestors and his life.

In 1972, Crow Dog participated in the Trail of Broken Treaties, which included the occupation of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ headquarters in Washington, D.C., the AP reported. He also took part in and was arrested after the 71-day occupation at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

After serving two years in prison, Crow Dog returned home and revived several traditions, including the Ghost Dance, according to Indian Country Today. Created in the late 1800s, it was meant to bring peace and prosperity, along with unity, with deceased ancestors,.

“We danced so that our Lakota Nation should live,” Crow Dog said.

Crow Dog also lobbied for the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and Indian Self Determination Act, according to the AP. The two measures altered the relationship between Native Americans and the United States.