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First edition of People of One Fire found after being lost for 48 years!

First edition of People of One Fire found after being lost for 48 years!


Life is indeed a box of chocolates  . . . Part 14

Well, the original name of the newsletter was the El Gringo Gazette, but when I found out in 2005 that I had a lot more Native American DNA than I assumed that name for the revitalized newsletter didn’t seem quite appropriate.   I was considering calling it the Semi-Gringo or Semi-Creek, but Ric Edwards suggested “People of One Fire.”   The rest is history!  We had about 64 readers until the Maya Myth Busting in the Mountains controversy in 2012.  Then things snowballed.  

Yes, this is the real McCoy!  I xeroxed copies of it and mailed them to friends and relatives in the States.  I found it in a Mexican archaeology textbook along with a “Tiger” letter from Anita Guffin.  (See below.)  Right now I am having to go through all my belongings, including books, that were in storage. This cottage is about half the size of my former house. A lot of things are being given away or thrown away.



The Mystery of Anita Guffin

Anita was a classmate and friend of mine in high school.   Our friendship became something more than that my Junior year in college. However, she was in pre-med at Emory University and I was in architecture school . . . two of the toughest curricula, one can take.  She claimed to have little time for dating, but would always say yes when the Carters invited me to a social event at the governor’s mansion.  After finishing medical school, she moved somewhere up north.   I had no idea that she was living in Roswell, GA and single, when I was living in Roswell and single.  The way I found out was that I read her obituary in the newspaper a little over a year ago.  Anita died of a long term degenerative disease on December 19, 2016.   Unfortunately, her funeral had already occurred when I read the obituary.

Note that an Air Mail stamp was only 10 cents in 1970.   It is now a dollar.   That is a 1000% increase.   Salaries certainly have not increased that much.

Here is the mystery.  Last month I discovered one of her letters inside a Spanish language archaeology textbook that I probably have not opened up since the early 1970s.  My young female pup, Sheena, was asleep beside my work desk.   The pup had only half-heartedly responded when I called her by her name.  The moment that she saw the Tiger Letter, she went bananas, barking excitedly and staring at the envelope and letter.  She jumped up upon my lap to put her nose against the letter.   Half-joking, I asked her, “Are you Anita?”   She barked excitedly and nodded her head yes, then kissed me on the lips several times.    From then on, she responded immediately  whenever I called her Anita and continues to do so.  Each night, when I turn off the lights in my bedroom, Anita races up stairs, kisses me on the lips and then settles down at the end of the bed on her private bed that she made by pulling an old sheet from the closet and then placing it over my covers.

You go figure!


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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.



    Cool story. Very cool. Tell Anita hi for me!


    I like your stories as much as your anthropological research Richard. And the Anita story is one of your grandes Exitos.

    I see Mt. Alban mentioned in the “Editor Goes to Oaxaca” story. I went there around 2000 with my girlfriend at the time (Gerri Jones, I used to call her Gijo.) I’d attach a photo of her with the Mt. Alban platforms as a backdrop except I don’t see a way to attach photos here. Serious vibes up on Mt. Alban. Gerri died earlier this week. A group of Tibetan monks, some of Gerri’s other friends, and I did an hour of chanting in a Namgyal shrine room a few days ago to send her off and help her in her “bardo”. I tried to let go of any psychological entanglements she and I may have had and encouraged her to do so as well. Seemed to help.

    • Here is something interesting. The decorative motifs at Monte Alban are identical to the decorative motifs on Napier Complicated Stamp pottery in Georgia – which was contemporary with Mt. Alban!


        Yes, very interesting, thanks. At there’s this:
        “Napier ceramics were originally recognized during the excavations at Macon Plateau in the 1930s. Overlap with both earlier Swift Creek and later initial Mississippian Woodstock series ceramics has been documented at a number of sites (Wauchope 1966:60-63, 437-438), suggesting the series represents terminal Woodland occupations in the area.”

        A paper in American Antiquity from 1947 says: “…a technique of impressing designs with a wooden paddle in the manner typical of the Swift Creek period in Georgia and northern Florida, was in use during relatively late times in the Valley of Mexico, where it was applied to indigenous pottery. If its apparent rarity in Mexico when contrasted with the Southeast may be taken as an indicator of the direction of borrowing, Mexican potters were the borrowers in this case.”

        The article also mentions that stamping with wooden paddles (which apparently were curved) was also done in Alaska.
        (James B. Griffin and Alex D. Krieger, American Antiquity, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Jan., 1947), pp. 156-168)

        • Both Swift Creek and Napier stamped pottery was first seen in eastern Peru, before it appeared in Georgia. My suspicion is that some Panoan potters found their way to Mexico.


            The 1947 article does mention “Peruvian stamping is quite similar that of the southeastern United States…certain common influences may have operated on the ceramic traditions of the eastern United States and Latin America from time to time.”

            It does seem like Panoan potters could have fairly easily reached Mexico via the Pacific or out the Amazon/Orinoco rivers to the Atlantic. Also, via the Atlantic route there are all those islands in the Caribbean to hop to the southeastern US.

          • I will be talking about that in the next article. What is the name of the 1947 article? You see, Gringo archaeologists are completely unaware that we Creeks are part Panoan and use several core Panoan words.


            Griffin and Krieger’s 1947 article in American Antiquity was called “Notes on Some Ceramic Techniques and Intrusions in Central Mexico”. Personally it looks like your side of the argument with the “Gringo archeologists” is the safer bet at present.


    Dear Mr Thornton,
    I also knew Anita Guffin. I was one year ahead of her at Emory and graduated in 1970. We dated for nearly 2 years from 1969-1971 but she ended the relationship in 1971. One of the darkest days of my life. I went to high school at Southwest high school in Atlanta . I went on to the Medical College of Georgia and became a physician . I took her on a tour of the campus at MCG and arranged lodging for her in late 1970 when she came for an interview. She subsequently decided against medical school and decided to get a Master of Anesthesia. She worked at Emory Med School in CV anesthesia and had a brilliant career there for 11 years before going to Mt Sinai School of Medicine in New York for 10 years. She had multiple superb publications as a part of the CV team there before becoming very ill and having to return to Atlanta about 1995. Nothing in the medical literature after that date. I discovered all of this on the internet several years ago.
    I last saw her in 1974 and something she told me then made her high risk for a degenerative disease like MS and I always suspected that had happened.
    I discovered the news of her death only in 8/2018. A very sad day. A bright, beautiful, energetic woman and also very determined. An honor to have known her. Happily married myself for 44 years but never forgot her. A truly singular lady.

    • That is amazing! How did you find this specific People of One Fire article? We are primarily read by Native Americans and Native American descendants. The last time I saw Anita was at a party at the governor’s mansion during Christmas season of late 1971. We were always friends, but not lovers. That why I was surprised at the two long letters that she wrote me with the tiger on them in the summer of 1970. I still have no explanation for my herd dog puppy’s reaction to seeing the two letters among a stack of ancient letters associated with Mexico. The pup never responded to the name I originally gave her, but instantly responded to Anita. She is a Spanish Shepherd from the mountains of New Mexico. The puppy understands Spanish commands as well as English commands. When I say besame (kiss me Spanish) she jumps up on her hind legs and kisses me on the lips. You go figure?


    I have been doing some searches of the internet ever since I discovered her obit last month. One of the variations in my search led to your site and so I read your posting. You now know about as much as I know about Anita. If you do a search with Anita Guffin, anesthesia, you will see a listing of NYSSA… . That is the New York State Society of Anesthesia, and their quarterly journal ‘SPHERE’, of Winter 2016, page 33. There is a long article about the attempt to get anesthesia assistants licensed in New York State, and it covers a great deal of her career there from 1984-1994-5. Very good article and it does not drown you in medical terminology. Very praising of Anita and what she did and towards the last it mentions a sudden severe illness that required her return to Atlanta to be near family and then she dropped off the medical landscape forever. Nothing further appeared anywhere except the obituaries of both her parents, her obituary, and the note in NYSSA. I even tried to contact her sister Becky a few years ago to find out if Anita was badly ill as I suspected but to no avail.
    After the break in 1971 I had a difficult time for several years recovering. As I prepared to leave Atlanta in 5-6 1974 to start a residency and subsequent fellowship, I received an anonymous letter saying “if interested call Anita”. Anita denied writing the letter but I strongly suspected Becky, her sister. No one but our parents knew we had dated and all my old friends from Emory had scattered. I called and we had a dinner at the Diplomat in Atlanta. You probably know the restaurant. We brought each other up to date on our lives. She had actually been engaged in that interim 1971-1974 and went up until a few days before the wedding and then called it all off and walked away. Even told me why. During that dinner she told me about one symptom that is a signal event that can alert you to certain degenerative diseases. She had been treated and it resolved and she passed it off as something minor but it set off alarm bells to me. It’s not 100 % certain but extremely high. Never got back together after that. I was saddened severely by what I read years later but unsurprised. There are certain diseases that have despicable inevitability and as a medical professional you can see the future that awaits those individuals. It is difficult to be removed and impartial as you see it happen. It takes away all that you were, all that you are and all that you will ever be and then it kills you.

    • You obviously was much, much closer to Anita than I was. I did not know exactly what had happened to her after 1971. I met a brilliant senorita in the neighborhood where I was based in Mexico City during the summer of 1970 then was absorbed with her until her mother hid my letters, her passport and her birth certificate. I flew off to work Sweden, while unbeknownst to me, Alicia simultaneously flew off to Paris, broken hearted, to get a post-graduate degree and away from her mother. I even spent two weeks in a hostel in the same neighborhood in Paris, where Alicia lived, but didn’t know it. Ah memories . . . sweet and regretful.


        That’s true. Regrets are difficult. All you can do is give your best shot and the lady says yes or no. Anita said no but another lady said yes and that is ongoing after 44 years. I have enjoyed this discussion. This is not an after dinner conversation you have with your wife but it was helpful to have a conversation that had built up over nearly 50 years but never spoken. There were many wonderful and humorous times with her. That last one just overshadows so many of the good ones. If I get to Atlanta in the not too distant future then a visit to her grave might be in order but we shall see.
        Your website is interesting. I note comments on Burt Reynold. I was at Mcg when they were shooting “The Longest Yard” at Reidsville State Prison. Some of the cast visited Augusta but never where i was.

        Good luck in your endeavors.
        Sorry to say but I still cheer for UGA, and Purdue


    Just saw your “First Edition” while playing on the POOF site. Oaxaca is still one of my favorites. We spent a week there. Monte Alban is unbelievable. On the day we spent there, seeing the “Dancers” glyphs with a couple of doctors also there describing what they saw in the images was fabulous. I had read about the possibility that they depicted medical conditions and the two doctors were discussing the very real probability that they showed a breech birth, “hunchback” or “dowager’s hump” spinal condition, broken limbs, and more was thrilling. Mitla was also wonderful with all of the decorative stonework. Perhaps you have some interpretation of the meaning of the designs.


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