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Did you notice the copal brazier in the Itza Maya music video?

Did you notice the copal brazier in the Itza Maya music video?


One of those OMG moments that we love at the People of One Fire

These guys are authentic down the line.  They are wearing the red turbans of Itza Maya Keepers.   Creek Keepers also traditionally wore red turbans, but now most in Oklahoma wear cowboy hats.  

Music was considered by the Mayas to be a form of worship.  Therefore, before appearing at the scene on the Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, they reverently ignited copal incense as a form of prayer to the heavens.  Itza Mayas traditionally put an abstract image of the Sky Serpent on their copal braziers, which were simple ceramic jars, unlike those of the Lowland Mayas and later, the Aztecs.


Colorization of shell gorget from the North Georgia Mountains.  Note the Maya glyph for the planet Venus on their blue kilts.

When Richard Hakluyt depositioned two former residents of the Spanish colony of Santa Helena (South Carolina) in 1587, they told them that there was a great town on the side of a mountain in the Georgia Mountains at which the priests burned copal resin in front of the temple 24/7.  Therefore, the Spanish traders called the Track Rock Terrace Complex,  Grand Copal.

When Richard Briggstock returned to Barbados in 1654, after touring North Georgia for an extended period of time,  he told French ethnologist, Charles de Rochefort, that the Apalache priests there burned copal incense from in front of their mountaintop and hilltop temples, 24/7.  

At right is a style of shell gorget found in Northern Georgia and Eastern Tennessee, but also sometimes as far away as Missouri.  It portrays an Apalache hunter (left) and Chiska hunter (right) making a bond of peace around a copal brazier on a wooden pedestal. Note that the brazier has a sky serpent on it.   Now look below at the copal brazier in the film.



“This Maya thing is a bunch of crap!”  –  Former president of the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists at opening of his speech to the Trail of Tears Association.     (You may now roll in the floor laughing.)



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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.



    Richard, I have always thought you were that lone voice crying out from the mountain tops. But after reading your article it seems you might be that sacred coral brazier burning 24/7 in the north Georgia mountains. You are the right man in the right place. Keep up the hard work it is making a difference.


      What he said!!!


    Richard, Another connection for the Muskogee confederation with the serpent symbol is a people that lived in Alabama at the town called “Attasse” according to Mr. Bartram:
    “THE pillars and walls of the houses of the square were decorated with various paintings and sculptures; which I suppose to be hieroglyphic, and as an historic legendary of political and sacerdotal affairs: but they are extremely picturesque or caricature, as men in variety of attitudes, some ludicrous enough, others having the head of some kind of animal as those of a duck, turkey, bear, fox, wolf, buck, &c. and again those kind of creatures are represented having the human head. These designs were not ill executed, the outlines bold, free and well proportioned.
    The pillars supporting the front or piazza of the council house of the square, were ingeniously formed in the likeness of vast speckled serpents, ascending upward; the Otasses being of the snake family or tribe.”

    • The Attasee originally lived on the Ocmulgee River downstream from Ocmulgee National Monument. They moved to the Chattahoochee River in the early 1700s. Their name means “Descendants of Downstream People.” It is quite plausible that their ancestors were from one of the branches of the Mayas, who migrated to North America.


        Richard, This location seems to be a very important meeting hall for many of the Mico’s, at the time of Mr. Bartrams visit, Do you know the location of Attasee town in Alabama? Could that be the same location as “Attalla” by the Coosa river? The serpent symbol was used also by the Kolomoki people in their temple plaza, so that connection before the arrival of the Maya /Itza and most of the rectangular temple mounds in 800-900 AD. Another Alabama town perhaps close by with the beginning of the sounds of Kolomoki :

        Coolome (Kolom…)
        “HERE are very extensive old fields, the abandoned plantations and commons of the old town, on the East side of the river, but the settlement is removed, and the new town now stands on the opposite shore,…”

        • In the late 1700s and early 1800s Atasee was on the west bank of the Chattahoochee River, just south of Columbus. It appears on the maps. However, in the early 1700s Atasee is shown on the Ocmulgee River south of Macon, GA. Most of the Coosa River in Alabama was occupied by South American or Caribbean type peoples when De Soto came through.


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