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First multi-media film productions will feature the Coosa River Basin

First multi-media film productions will feature the Coosa River Basin


The Kaw Nation of Oklahoma is providing technical support so that we hopefully will be able to solve several mysteries.

Due to the generosity of People of One Fire readers, I now have the software and hardware required to convert Power Point slide shows into videos with professional sound tracks and also a video camera to film archaeological sites with a HD quality images.  I still don’t have the software for converting architectural computer models into animated films, but the technical capacity now on hand will insure multi-media productions that Southeastern Native Americans can be proud of.

Just who were the Upper Creeks?   There was a frenzy of archaeological studies during the 1960s and 1970s in Northeast Alabama, Northwest Georgia and Southeast Tennessee then they stopped.  We were left with a series of pottery styles with English names and vague speculations made in the absence of cultural history, linguistics and genetics. The archaeological profession went on its way, thinking that there was nothing else to learn.  Native Americans were left with many questions and very few answers.

Upset because the US Army Corps of Engineers had not placed any signage, whatsoever, near the site of the great town of Kusa under Carters Lake, GA, Judge Patrick Moore of the Muscogee-Creek Nation asked me in 2007 to do an architectural-urban planning analysis of Carters Bottoms.  Hernando de Soto spent several weeks there and planned to come back to build the capital of La Florida.  There are indigenous village sites all over Carters Bottoms, dating back to at least 1000 BC.  It is one of the most important archaeological zones in the Southeast.  One would think that either the US Army Corps of Engineers or the State of Georgia would have erected at least one historical marker here about them.  Nope!  Nada!  There is one state marker down the highway a bit that is primarily about the Carter Plantation, but does mention the plantation house of a 1/32nd Cherokee judge and the Cherokee hamlet of Coosawattee . . . which maybe had 50 residents.  Kusa had over 3,000 houses.

The De Soto Chronicles listed the names of several satellite villages near Kusa, plus a series of towns along the Coosa River down to its confluence with the Tallapoosa River.  Out of all these two dozen plus words, I could only translate one village name, Talamochasee, with a Muskogee dictionary.  Who were these people?  They were definitely not Muskogee Creeks.

I presented a Power Point slide show to the US Army Corps of Engineers staff at Carters Dam.  University of Georgia anthropology professor, Mark Williams, sat in the background . . .  he thought . . . incognito.   Nothing happened.  There are still no historical markers.

I first became convinced that there was much more to the history of the Coosa River in the summer of 2017.  As part of my research funded by a private client, I analyzed the archaeological report on the King Village Site.  The village was located about 21 miles west of Rome, GA near the Alabama-Georgia line.   Both the village site plan and the architecture were typical of the Mandan and Arikara of the Upper Missouri River Basin.  I then found a book, published in 1951 by a Tennessee historian, which unhesitatingly stated as fact that the Mandan originally lived in the region southwest of Chattanooga in Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia.  I later found an article from the 1880s by ethnologist Albert Gatschet in a publication of the Smithsonian Institute’s Bureau of Ethnology.  He stated that the Coosa Creeks (Upper Creeks) were relatives of the Kansas Indians . . .  Kansas Indians?  That was a totally unexpected statement.  

The inaccurate portrayal of the King Site

The official painting of the village, commissioned by a artist employed by an archaeological consulting firm, bears little resemblance to the actual site plan and architecture unearthed by another archaeological team.   However, the false image of the King Village is all that you have seen in references in the past.  That at least will soon change.  A senior anthropology professor at UCLA read my POOF articles on the King Village and was convinced.  My architectural renderings will be utilized in a book that he is about to publish on the mound builders of the Southeastern United States.

The final clue that the official “understanding” of the past in Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia was off-base, came from an analysis of 18th century maps of Northwest Georgia.  Official histories state that the Cherokee capital of New Echota was built on the site of the “Cherokee” town of Oostanaula (actually Ustanali).   Ustanauli was a MUSKOGEAN word and town.  They were kicked out by the Cherokees and relocated to the Chickasaw Nation in western Tennessee.

A course in map reading should be mandatory for all persons getting a masters or doctorate in Anthropology!  LOL  Ustanauli was located three miles upstream from New Echota.  The actual site of New Echota was built on top of the town of Cansagi (That’s the Anglicization of Kanza-ki or Kanza People in Muskogee-Creek.)  Kansas is the French form of that tribal name.  So the Kaw (Kansas) People really did live in Northeast Alabama and Northeast Georgia.  Coosa is the Anglicization of Kaw-se . . . the Kaw People.  The Kaw People were kicked out of the Coosa River Basin, just like the Ustanauli.  What is even more intriguing is that archaeologists determined that the New Echota archaeological zone was the first location where the “Coosa People” lived after arriving in the Coosa River Basin.

The Kaw Nation has mailed me one of its dictionaries and a booklet on their migration legend.  These documents will be incorporated into the planned film productions.  I strongly suspect that the Kanza Dictionary will enable me to translate many of the previously inexplicable village names, recorded in the De Soto Chronicles.

The people of the Coosa River Basin were not all Kanza speakers.  During the past two years, I have been able to translate town names from Childersburg, AL south to Wetumpka, AL with Panoan and Arawak dictionaries from Peru, plus the Alabama language dictionary.

Changes at the People of One Fire

My income dropped drastically as of this month.  I will not be able to write as many articles on the People of One Fire newsletter website, since I will have to apply more time to marketing my professional services and creating films for Youtube.  The potential income from films is much greater than for printed essays. I do not own this website, but will try to persuade the website host to reduce the number of ads.  For most of its existence, the People of One Fire website has only contained one advertisement, which paid for the website hosting.

Well, we have to deal with life as the stack of cards that is dealt us . . . not bury our heads in the sand like an ostrich.  However, in the long run, educational films can have a much more substantial impact on the current situation.  We just might see a historical marker at Carters Lake one day.

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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.



    Good News!


    Richard, I’ve learned more from your articles than what I thought was possible given the little amount of effort the universities have done even to research Native words and the Native peoples of the South…like you did. Because of your efforts more and more people understand that the Itza / Maya / and other peoples migrated to the Southeast from different parts of the world.
    I look forward to reading more of your articles and hope you will consider contacting Native Elders of the Native Nations to provide more support for your research. If the Native peoples of this country want a more accurate understanding of their History… more DNA research samples need to tested, a data base for all the Native artifacts of the South with historical archeological papers could be created which would help with this puzzle of history. Best of luck with your efforts…and a Happy New year!!!

    • Well thank you sir! This is a scary thought, but actually I am now the Elder and Keeper of my Creek family!


    Dear Mr. Richard, Good news and also a bit sad. Films can show with a Wow factor what some can not perceive from written words. Sad because I look impatiently forward to your next article every day. One of my favorite things in world. I like many, many others have learned incredible marvels from the past that we may better understand the truths that where hidden by time and the hand of man for progress and greed usually. I have put the knowledge I have learned into helping to understand and find out about just who my ancestors where that roamed these parts of the country from a very pre-Revolutionary time period when we are taught differently. There are family members that had purchased property from Patton on the Holston River in the 1740s and 1750s and were on the Yadkin River N.C. early1700s, and Va. and the 1600s always inter mingling with Natives of the surrounding areas.
    There is much to finding that truth that needs finding before the traces are completely gone you one thing or the other. I never really calculated just how many pictures are in the WPA/TVA Archive, tens of thousands or more. My hope now is that the collection will assist you in your searching for and the proofing of facts known or not yet. Thank you, thank you, thank you always for your tremendous work. Here’s to a Great New Year to you and you obtaining whatever you need to proceed.

    • Thank you sir! . . . and thank you for telling me about the WPA/TVA archives!


    I stumbled across the archives doing a history research paper I titled “ The TVA X-Files” last fall when I went back to college at 65. Cheap tutition. A perk for a bored semi-retired “senior”. And thank you sir but, again I am not a sir, but a good ole country gal, usually barefooted, that loves her neck of the woods and hunting in the past to know more and understand why it keeps calling to me.
    Not only have you provided us with your discoveries but we have gotten to know you as a person Mr.Richard through your writing about your life experiences to provide us insight. I can’t thank you enough times for your Efforts to find the truth and expose the falsehoods.

    • Well, thank you Madame! Sorry about that. I am allowed to make one social faux pas a day. We still have a lot to learn about the Southeast’s heritage. There was so much information lost during the Colonial Period when millions of Native Americans died of disease, war and slavery.


    Hi Richard,
    Would you be able to keep us posted on when and where on the internet your YouTube films will be running?

    • Absolutely! People of One Fire has its own channel. It is not visible now, but as soon as the first program is uploaded, POOF readers will be able to subscribe free to our channel.


    Grt post Richard. I am a new member of the Alabama Archaeological Society, Coosa River Chapter ,and I’m going to share this with the head of the Chapter. Thx


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The Information World is changing!

People of One Fire needs your help to evolve with it.

We are now celebrating the 11th year of the People of One Fire. In that time, we have seen a radical change in the way people receive information. The magazine industry has almost died. Printed newspapers are on life support. Ezines, such as POOF, replaced printed books as the primary means to present new knowledge. Now the media is shifting to videos, animated films of ancient towns, Youtube and three dimensional holograph images.

During the past six years, a privately owned business has generously subsidized my research as I virtually traveled along the coast lines and rivers of the Southeast. That will end in December 2017. I desperately need to find a means to keep our research self-supporting with advertising from a broader range of viewers. Creation of animated architectural history films for POOF and a People of One Fire Youtube Channel appears to be the way. To do this I will need to acquire state-of-art software and video hardware, which I can not afford with my very limited income. Several of you know personally that I live a very modest lifestyle. If you can help with this endeavor, it will be greatly appreciated.

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