The Chickasaws were the last of the five American Indian nations to be forcibly removed from their southeastern homeland by the U.S. government and established in the newly designated Indian Territory. While the Chickasaws made the arduous journey with an optimistic spirit, they soon faced hostile encounters with southern Plains tribes, Texas militia and other intruders. Chickasaw leaders began advocating for the federal government to honor its promises in the removal treaties, which provided for peacekeeping forces, and eventually a site for a new fort, Fort Washita, was established in 1842.
Amidst the turmoil of removal and despite his lack of formal schooling, Cyrus Harris emerged as a notable leader for the Chickasaw Nation. After the Chickasaw Nation demanded to be recognized as an independent sovereign nation, he was elected its first governor and went on to serve five terms in office. In this Heartland Chapter regional EMMY® award-nominated director's cut of Winter Fire, as seen on the local PBS affiliate OETA, journey back in time as the Chickasaw people arrive in Indian Territory and Cyrus Harris emerges as a leader and statesman.