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We need articles on the Choctaws, Alabama, Caddo, Natchez and Chitimacha!

Yesterday, a POOF member of Choctaw heritage complained about the lack of information on the Choctaws in our newsletters and web site. He is absolutely correct. Personally, it has been a big frustration for me, since the Choctaws are the largest Muskogean tribe and about a third of our founding members were Choctaws. Joseph Creel, a Gulf Coast Choctaw, contributed most of the material that we have on our website on the Choctaws, but the language that Joseph’s ancestors spoke was a bit different than that of the “mainstream” Choctaws. Also, their cultural heritage was somewhat different.

On several occasions I have written the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Alabama and Chitimacha tribes for help in promulgating their cultural heritages. Only the Chickasaw Nation responded . . . and in a big way. We now have Chickasaw TV on our website.

We never intended for the People of One Fire newsletters to be a one man show. We have some extremely well-educated Choctaws as readers of our newsletters. One, a PhD in Louisiana, made some of the most important discoveries linking the Itza Mayas to the Southeast during the early days of POOF. However, she is very busy now as the director of a museum in Louisiana. We need some Choctaws to fill her shoes.

Very honestly, I am not qualified to write articles of substance on the Native peoples of the Mississippi Basin and Gulf Coast. I don’t know the languages and cultural traditions. I never lived there like Joseph Creel did. I have visited several of the more important archaeological sites. That’s it. You would see me making the same mistakes that we gripe about in the eastern portion of the Southeast, where archaeologists interpreted Creek-Seminole-Koasati-Yuchi-Highland Apalache-Pee Dee town sites without being intimately familiar with the cultural heritages.

Many Choctaws subscribe to our newsletters. Several have backgrounds in anthropology or are actually professional archaeologists. We need the knowledge that they carry in their heads.

The People of One Fire has proven that when Native Americans with different cultural heritages and professional backgrounds share their knowledge and skills, great things can occur.

Please give it a thought.

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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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