|Robert Summers Yellowtail|
August 4, 1889|
Lodge Grass, Montana
|Died||June 20, 1988(aged 98)|
|Known for||Leadership of the Crow Nation|
Robert Summers "Robbie" Yellowtail (August 4, 1889 – June 20, 1988) was a leader of the Crow Nation. Described as a "20th Century Warrior", Yellowtail was the first Native American to hold the post of Agency Superintendent at a reservation.
Yellowtail was born in Lodge Grass, Montana in 1889. When he was 13 years old he went to the Sherman Institute, in Riverside, California, graduating in 1907. He then attended the Extension Law School in Los Angeles, transferring to the correspondence law course of the University of Chicago, where he gained his law degree. He was immediately enlisted by Crow chief Plenty Coups to defend the Crow Indian Reservation against a bill sponsored by Montana Senator Thomas J. Walsh that sought to open the reservation to homesteading. The bill was defeated after seven years of work in Washington by Yellowtail. In 1920 he helped to draft the "Crow Allotment Act" that protected Crow lands, and was instrumental in obtaining voting rights for Native Americans in 1924. In 1934 Yellowtail became the Superintendent of the Crow Indian Reservation, the first superintendent to administer his own tribe. Yellowtail held the office until 1945.
Yellowtail was a leading figure in opposition to a proposed dam on the Bighorn River in the southern portion of the reservation. The dam would flood the Bighorn Canyon, sacred to the Crow. Yellowtail was unable to prevent the dam's construction, which began in 1961, but won a modest increase in compensation to the tribe after a divisive fight. In a final irony Yellowtail Dam was named after Yellowtail. Yellowtail continued to fight for compensation for the Crow people in the 1980s, arguing against sales of coal from mineral rights held by the Bureau of Indian Affairs under the Crow reservation.
Yellowtail was the subject of a 1985 video, Contrary Warriors: A Story of the Crow Tribe.
- "Robert Yellowtail". Little Big Horn College. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "Robert Yellowtail". Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. National Park Service. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Graetz, Rick; Graetz, Susie (2000). "Robert Yellowtail". Crow Country: Montana's Crow Tribe of Indians. Northern Rockies Publishing Company/Little Big Horn College. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Contrary Warriors: A Story of the Crow Tribe. Direct Cinema Ltd. 1985. Retrieved 2012-12-03.