Greenwood "Green" McCurtain (1848–1910) was Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation (1896-1890) and (1902-1910), serving four two-year terms. He was the third of his brothers to be elected as chief, and after 1906 and the dissolution of tribal governments under the Dawes Act, he was appointed as chief by the United States government. (His brothers Jackson Frazier McCurtain and Edmund McCurtain had previously been elected as chief, serving a total of three terms.)
Green McCurtain was born on November 28, 1848 in Skullyville, Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, the third son of Cornelius McCurtain, born in Alabama, and Mayhiya "Amy" Blevins, both full-blood Choctaw. Blevins' grandmother was Sho-Ma-Ka, a captive from a neighboring tribe who was adopted into the Choctaw.
McCurtain's family moved to Indian Territory in 1833 as part of the Choctaw Trail of Tears. Green's older brothers Jackson Frazier McCurtain (1880-1884) and Edmund McCurtain (1884-1886) were elected as principal chief before him. His family name is of Irish origin, coming from County Cork through Cornelius McCurtain, who came to Spanish Florida in the 18th century.
Marriage and family
His first wife was Martha Ainsworth, a European American, and together they had a son, D.C. McCurtain. He later lived in Spiro, Oklahoma. His second wife was Kate 'Kittie' Spring, and the couple had one son and four daughters: Alice, Lena, Bertha and Cora. He was a Baptist.
McCurtain represented the Tuskahoma, or progressive party of his tribe. He first served as Choctaw National Treasurer for two terms and oversaw the distribution of $2 million in treaty settlements. Twice he served as a Choctaw Delegate to the U.S. federal government in Washington, DC.
He served as a member of his district's board of education within the tribe, and subsequently served as district attorney. In 1896 and 1898, McCurtain was elected Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation. Term limits prevented him for running again immediately. In 1902, he was eligible to run again and won the election. He won a fourth term in 1904. He represented the Choctaw Nation and served as a vice president at the Sequoyah Constitutional Convention in 1905, which laid the groundwork for the Oklahoma Constitution.
Under the Dawes Act, in 1906 the U.S. government broke up tribal governments and institutions. The Bureau of Indian Affairs appointed McCurtain as chief, and he acted under BIA supervision until his death. Although originally a Democrat, he came to believe their Congressional delegation was hostile to his people and he became a Republican.
McCurtain County home
The Green McCurtain House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 21, 1971. The house was in ruins at the time and has since been reconstructed. It is a two-story, L-shaped residence.
Legacy and honors
- McCurtain County, Oklahoma was named for this family of chiefs.
- "Choctaw Nation Elected Chiefs." RootsWeb.Ancestry.com. Retrieved 25 Sept 2009.
- Thoburn 2164
- Mize, Richard, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. "Sequoyah Convention," Accessed October 6, 2013.
- "Green McCurtain House", National Register Properties in Oklahoma. Retrieved 25 Sept 2009
- "Green McCurtain." Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Retrieved 25 Sept 2009.
- Thoburn, Joseph Bradford. A Standard History of Oklahoma, Volume 5., Chicago: American Historical Society, 1916.