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LeFLORE, GREENWOOD (1800-1865)

A prominent Choctaw chief, Greenwood LeFlore was the son of a trader, Louis LeFleur, and Rebecca Cravat, a mixed blood Choctaw. Emerging as chief of the Western District in 1826, he used his growing influence to have himself elected head chief in 1830 and became an advocate of removal.Before taking an active role in Choctaw affairs, LeFlore received six years of formal education in Nashville through the auspices of Maj. John Donley, father of his first and third wives. LeFlore became one of the principle supporters of the Choctaw Academy founded in Kentucky in 1825, opposed further land cessions, explored the Indian Territory in 1828, and embraced Christianity in 1829.

LeFlore and his more cosmopolitan followers challenged the traditionalists led by Mushulatubbee and Nitakechi over economic, religious, and political differences. With Jackson's removal policy and Mississippi's extension of state law threatening Choctaw sovereignty, the three district chiefs were forced to seek accommodation, and they agreed to removal by the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. LeFlore was deposed as chief because he embraced removal, believing it would save the Choctaw. Yet his home became a gathering place for the first emigrant parties, and he served as a conductor for parties moving to Indian Territory. Although he did not relocate, he claimed the ruins of Fort Towson as a trading post before its reoccupation by the U.S. Army. LeFlore remained in Mississippi, became a wealthy planter and slave owner, and served in the Mississippi Senate (1841-44).

SEE ALSO: AMERICAN INDIANS, CHOCTAW, INDIAN REMOVAL, INDIAN TERRITORY.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: James Taylor Carson, Searching for the Bright Path: The Mississippi Choctaws From Prehistory to Removal (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999). Angie Debo, The Rise and Fall of the Choctaw Republic (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1934). Arthur H., Jr. DeRosier, The Removal of the Choctaw Indians (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1970). Clara Sue Kidwell, Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi, 1818-1918 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995). Richard White, The Roots of Dependency: Subsistence, Environment, and Social Change among the Choctaws, Pawnees, and Navajos (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983).

James P. Pate

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