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Greenwood Leflore (as Requiem for a Nun spells his name, though LeFlore is historically more accurate) was the son of Rebecca Cravatt, the daughter of a Choctaw chief (not mentioned in the novel), and Louis LeFleur, a French Canadian fur trader. He was educated by white Americans in Nashville. Elected "first [or principal] chief of the Choctaw nation" in 1830 (84), he signed the treaty ceding the tribe's lands to the U.S., but when most of the tribe 'removed' west of the Mississippi River, he remained in Mississippi, where he became a large slave-owner and planter and served several terms in the state legislature. Although the novel's narrator says he named his plantation "in honor of a French king's mistress" (85), the name he actually gave it - "Malmaison" - pays tribute to a French emperor's wife; that was the name of the residence of the Empress Josephine, wife of Napoleon.

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