Levi "Ittawamba Minko" Colbert
1759 - 1834
Levi Colbert, or Ittawamba Minko (Bench Chief), was an early leader of the Chickasaw Nation. He was honorable, true and faithful to the Chickasaw people from his youth to the date of his death. He was born in the Chickasaw Nation, east of the Tennessee River in Alabama, in 1759.
Mr. Colbert had a high degree of intelligence and integrity and was, therefore, instrumental in Chickasaw affairs. He and his siblings grew up bilingual and were educated in both Chickasaw and European-American traditions.
Mr. Colbert and his brother George were prominent among the negotiators of the Chickasaws when meeting with the president and U.S. government regarding treaties and removal. In 1832, Mr. Colbert and other representatives of the Chickasaw Nation organized a treaty meeting with General John Coffee and various U.S. representatives to sign a treaty to negotiate the tribe’s removal west of the Mississippi River to Indian Territory.
Mr. Colbert and other Chickasaw leaders bargained shrewdly for as much compensation as possible for their homelands. In a long, detailed letter to President Andrew Jackson in November 1832, Colbert noted a strong resentment of the Chickasaw position and their belief that General Coffee had ignored their comments and viewpoints. As a result of the dismay at the way they had been treated by General Coffee, more than 40 leaders of the Chickasaw Nation signed the letter with Mr. Colbert.
Mr. Colbert died June 2, 1834, at Buzzard Roost, Colbert County, Alabama, at the age of 74. He did not live to see his people finally agree to a treaty that would relocate the Chickasaws to Indian Territory.
Throughout his life, Levi Colbert strived to maintain peace with the U.S. government while also maintaining the integrity of the Chickasaw people and culture.