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Fascinating TV documentary on St. Catherines Island, Georgia

Fascinating TV documentary on St. Catherines Island, Georgia

St. Catherines Island is part of the Golden Isles of Georgia and immediately north of the mouth of the Altamaha River.  It was one of the islands visited by the French Huguenot colonists of Fort Caroline in 1564 and 1565, but very soon thereafter became the site of one of the first Spanish missions in North America,  Mission Santa Catalina de Guale.  From around 1600 to 1685, it was the headquarters of the Spanish mission system on the South Atlantic Coast.  Plantations were developed here in the 1700s by Anglo-American colonists, which continued operation until the American Civil War. 

In the 20th century, the owners allowed the island to return to its natural state.  The site of the mission was discovered in the 1980s and excavated by archaeologists of the American Museum of Natural History.  Archaeological work continues on both the site of Spanish structures and several Native American villages.   However, the primary function today is as an ecological laboratory and a location for breeding endangered species from around the world.   Particularly successful is the Ring-tailed Lemur Colony.  This species of lemur is facing extinction in its home island of Madagascar, but thriving on the Georgia Coast.

The documentary by Georgia Public Television is divided in two parts.  The first half explores the natural environment of St. Catherines Island, while the second half describes its rich Native American and Spanish Colonial history.   This is very beautiful television program, which I sure you will enjoy watching.

Here is the URL of the program:

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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.

1 Comment


    Hey Richard,
    VERY good video.The real history of the SE is amazing, as you prove every day. I really enjoyed the cinematography,Georgia is a beautiful state. I never imagined Lemurs in Georgia, but why not, if they are endangered in their home area.
    Congrats on the movie credit, I thought some of your art work was in the video, It appears you are getting the word out through POOF.
    Keep kicking the ant mound!


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