A Capitol Story

Capitol aerial shot

Robert Maxwell Harris was elected Governor of the Chickasaw Nation 1896-1898. Harris owned a farming operation in Tishomingo in 1882 that was unrivaled in the area. He opened a general merchandise store in Tishomingo in 1896, and soon branched out into other businesses. While governor, he was instrumental in construction of the third Chickasaw Capitol. Although he had opposition from a substantial amount of Chickasaw Nation officials because of the Dawes Commission working to dissolve the Indian Nations, he continued with the project. Granite for the building came from his quarry close to Tishomingo.

On November 8, 1897, Governor Harris signed a bill appropriating $15,000 to build the new capitol in Tishomingo. Governor Harris wanted the construction even with the knowledge that the Dawes Commission could dissolve the Chickasaw Nation because he wanted a tribute of lasting quality for the Chickasaw Nation. Unfortunately, the cost of the building greatly exceeded the estimated cost and Governor Douglas Johnston was left with the debt to resolve during his terms in office.

Tishomingo was voted as county seat in 1908 and the building became the Johnston County Courthouse. In 1992, the county constructed a new courthouse on Main Street and sold the building back to the Chickasaw Nation. The Chickasaw Nation has completely restored the building and it is currently used as a museum. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.