Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
Article displays Maya glyph in Georgia as it disses Mayas in Georgia
It was a beautiful, crisp autumn day and I was going to cut up some dead trees for firewood. Then a Texas graduate student in anthropology, who is a POOF member, sent me a link to an article in “Indian Country Today.” Being the proverbial Native America hunter, I smelled blood and went after the game. The firewood had to wait.
She sent me the article because of the obvious oxymoron. The US Forest Service had persuaded a New York City freelance writer to put out some more misinformation on Track Rock Gap and provided him the contact info for three individuals, who would say what they wanted said. For those more idealistic among us, that is defined as propaganda. Marxists perfected the techniques. However, in full display of their ignorance, they sent a photo of a Maya glyph on the Track Rock petroglyphs to accompany an article which ended with a USFS “archaeologist” stating that there was no empirical or scientific evidence that any Mayas ever settled in Georgia. You will see why we put “archaeologist” in quotes later on.
I am jest a simple mountain boy, so I guess the PhD didn’t count DNA, words, architecture, agricultural methods and cultural traditions as being empirical or scientific. He also didn’t know diddlysquat about the Mayas, because the glyph he chose was for the Itza Maya word hene, which means “Royal Sun.”
The theme of the article was that a small band of evil non-Native Americans in Georgia had schemed to hike on sacred Cherokee land and then claim that non-Native Americans (aka Mayas) had built the stone structures. In partnership with three Cherokee tribes, the USFS had bravely blocked an illegal trail through the site. Actually, the trail was a wagon road at least 200 years old that had been used by many generations of Georgians to drive cattle, go on picnics and hike.
In the article were extensive quotations from Lisa LaRue-Baker, – the Historic Preservation Officer for the Keetuwah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma. She took full credit for a half mile of trees being cut down to block Georgians from hiking at Track Rock Gap, AND demanding that neither the History Channel, PBS or National Geo be allowed to film Track Rock Gap. Her reason stated in the article was that “Track Rock Gap was the last sacred spot that we have left.” Say what-t–t?
FACTCHECK: The town at Track Rock was first developed around 800-1000 AD. The Cherokees didn’t own that land until after 1785. Actually, very few Cherokees ever lived nearby, and many of the indigenous Upper Creek families never left. They still consider themselves Creeks. A nearby stream is named Coosa Creek. The people who formed the Keetoowah Band never lived in the region near Track Rock Gap and left for Arkansas in 1817.
Lisa LaRue Baker and USFS archaeologist, James Wettstaed, have been quoted repeatedly in articles in newspapers and archaeological journals over the past three years as the experts on Track Rock Gap. I decided to find out just who these experts were. LaRue is the keyboardist for a little known rock band in Oklahoma name K2X. You can check out her website, if you don’t believe me. In addition, she has the title of the Keetoowah Historic Preservation Officer, but the Keetoowah do not own ANY real estate, much less any historic buildings. She performs those duties out of her home, whatever those duties actually are. She has absolutely no educational background in historic preservation, archeology, architecture or Southeastern Native American history.
James Wettstaed, is a PhD biologist, who has worked for the past 27 years out west – mostly in Montana. He is considered an expert on the migration patterns for bison and elk. One can only guess why he was demoted and sent to Gainesville, GA to be their Cultural Resources officer in 2012.
Have a double belly roll full of laughs:
- Forest Service, Native Community Seek to Protect Sacred Site After Some Claim Mayan Connection – Indian Country Today article
- Network displays Maya glyph from Georgia in article dissing Mayas in Georgia – Examiner article
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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