As the very first governor of the Chickasaw Nation, Cyrus Harris was at the core of implementing the first Chickasaw government and constitution. His formal education made him fluent in English and Chickasaw, and this helped bridge the gap with the U.S. government during legislative processes.
Harris was born in 1817, near Pontotoc, Mississippi, and received his education in the area. He lived elsewhere a few different times before settling at Mill Creek, where he stayed until his death in 1888.
His career in politics began in 1850, and in 1856, he was elected as the first governor of the Chickasaw Nation. He was reelected four more times. Although they fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, the Chickasaw Nation experienced a time of peace and harmonious living during Harris’s time as governor.
Described as a man of “great generosity, integrity, patriotism and self-sacrifice,” Harris lived a noble life, dedicated to serving the people of the Chickasaw Nation. He was present at numerous treaty signings and helped pave the way for future generations of Chickasaws.