George Colbert: The Legacy of a Chickasaw Chief


Last Updated: 1 year

George Colbert was an important historical figure in Native American history. He was a Chickasaw chief and leader during the nineteenth century. Chief Colbert was instrumental in helping to protect the Chickasaw people during a time of great turmoil and uncertainty.

We will explore the life and legacy of George Colbert and the impact he had on the Chickasaw people and the Native American community as a whole. We will also discuss how his legacy continues to be celebrated today.

Introduction to George Colbert

Birth 1764: Muscle Shoals, Colbert, Alabama, United States
Death: January 07, 1839 (74-75) Fort Towson, Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma, United States
Burial: Fort Towson, Choctaw County, Oklahoma, United States

George Colbert (also known as Tootemastubbe) was born in 1759 in what is now Colbert County, Alabama. He was the son of James Logan Colbert, a Chickasaw chief who was was three-fourths Chickasaw and one quarter Scottish. His white ancestors migrated to France during the Jacobite Wars and eventually to Virginia in the early 1600s. 

His mother was a full blood Chickasaw. Minta Hoya (Nahettaly Ishtanaha) was the second wife of James Logan Colbert and the mother of six sons. George was the second oldest son.

George Colbert was the father of Jane Colbert, Nancy Catherine Tharp, Susan “Sukey” McLish / Jones (Colbert), Lavinia Sarah Elizabeth Dunaway, George Colbert, Jr. and two  others.

He was the Brother of Maj. William Colbert, (Cooshemataha Pyaheggo), Joseph Colbert, Samuel Colbert and Maj. Levi Colbert (Itawamba Minco).

George was a half brother of James Colbert (Tonepia), Maj. William Colbert (Cooshemataha Pyaheggo), Sally Love, John Colbert, James Holmes Colbert and one other.

The Chickasaw had a matrilineal kinship system, in which children were considered born into their mother’s clan; positions of hereditary leadership were passed through the mother’s line.

The Chickasaw people were one of what the European Americans called the Five Civilized Tribes in the American Southeast.

As a young man, Colbert was trained to take over the position of chief from his father, and he eventually became the leader of the Chickasaw people in 1808.

Colbert was a highly respected leader who was known for his intelligence, charisma, and diplomacy. He was a strong advocate for the rights of the Chickasaw people, and he worked diligently to ensure that their rights were protected. He also worked hard to maintain a peaceful relationship with the United States government, and he was successful in negotiating several treaties with them.

George Colbert’s Early Life

George Colbert grew up in a time of great upheaval and change for the Chickasaw people. During his childhood, the Chickasaw Nation was in the midst of a long-standing conflict with the Creek Indians. This conflict had been going on for many years, and it eventually resulted in a series of wars between the two nations. His father was killed in these wars.

During this time, Colbert was trained in the skills and knowledge necessary to become a leader of his people. He was taught the ways of the Chickasaw culture and the importance of diplomacy and negotiation. He also learned the history of the Chickasaw people and the struggles they had faced in the past.

Through his education and training, Colbert became a powerful leader and advocate for the Chickasaw people. He was a skilled negotiator who was able to effectively broker deals between the Chickasaw people and the United States government.

Chief Doublehead, a Chickamauga Cherokee chief, established the settlement of Coldwater, at the head of the Muscle Shoals on the Tennessee River in what is now the state of Alabama after an assault on White’s Fort in East Tennessee along with a war party lead by Dragging Canoe.

The location at the time was within the territory claimed by the Chickasaw, but Doublehead solved that problem by marrying two daughters, Tuskiahooto and Saleechie, to George Colbert, then the chief of the Chickasaw town at the foot of the Shoals.

George Colbert’s Contributions to the Chickasaw People

George Colbert was a major contributor to the Chickasaw people throughout his life. He was a key figure in negotiating several treaties between the Chickasaw Nation and the United States government. He worked hard to ensure that the Chickasaw people were treated fairly and that their rights were respected.

Colbert was also an advocate for education and economic development within the Chickasaw Nation. He worked to increase literacy among the Chickasaw people and was instrumental in establishing several schools and colleges within the nation. He also worked to improve the economy of the Chickasaw Nation by encouraging trade and investment.

Colbert was a staunch defender of Chickasaw culture and worked hard to ensure that the traditions of the Chickasaw people were preserved.

The Trail of Tears and George Colbert

George Colbert was a key figure in the Trail of Tears, the forced relocation of the Chickasaw people in the 1830s. The United States government wanted to expand their territory into Native American lands, and the Chickasaw people were in the way. In order to make way for the expansion, the government ordered the relocation of the Chickasaw people from their ancestral lands.

Colbert was a vocal opponent of the relocation and worked hard to protect the rights of the Chickasaw people. He even traveled to Washington D.C. to personally negotiate with President Andrew Jackson about the relocation. Although his efforts were unsuccessful, Colbert’s bravery and dedication to the Chickasaw people was remembered and celebrated by his people.

The Legacy of George Colbert

George Colbert was a beloved leader of the Chickasaw people and his legacy lives on to this day. 

The Trail of Tears was a major event in American history, and George Colbert’s courage and dedication during that time was remembered and celebrated by the Chickasaw people.

He never reached the new Indian Territory. He  died on the Chickasaw Trail of Tears at Fort Towson, Oklahoma, just before they reached Indian Territory at the age of 75. His legacy is still honored by the Chickasaw Nation to this day.

Celebrating the Impact of George Colbert on Native American History

The Chickasaw Nation celebrates the legacy of George Colbert every year on the anniversary of his death. On this day, the Chickasaw people come together to celebrate Colbert’s life and legacy and to remember all that he did for the Chickasaw Nation.

The celebration includes traditional Chickasaw dances, songs, and stories. It is also a time for the Chickasaw people to reflect on Colbert’s legacy and the impact he had on the Chickasaw people and the Native American community.His life and legacy serve as an important reminder of the struggles that Native Americans faced in the past and the importance of standing up for their rights and fighting for justice.

Colbert’s legacy is also a reminder of the importance of education and economic development in Native American communities. His work to improve the literacy and economic standing of the Chickasaw Nation is still remembered.

George Colbert’s Legacy Today

Colbert’s legacy is also remembered in the name of Colbert County, Alabama, which is named in his honor. This is a fitting tribute to the life and legacy of George Colbert and the impact he had on the Chickasaw people.

Resources for Learning More About George Colbert

If you would like to learn more about the life and legacy of George Colbert, there are a number of resources available. The following books and websites provide more information about Colbert and the impact he had on the Chickasaw people and the Native American community:


The life and legacy of George Colbert is an important part of Native American history. He was a brave and courageous leader who fought hard to protect the rights of the Chickasaw people and ensure that they were treated fairly. His legacy is still remembered and celebrated by the Chickasaw Nation, and his courage and dedication are an inspiration to all Native Americans.