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Geneticists identify probable microbe that killed 80% of Mexico’s population

Geneticists identify probable microbe that killed 80% of Mexico’s population


Chronology and scale of Mesoamerica’s population decline exactly matches the Lower Southeast.

The Washington Post published a fascinating article this week on genetic research being carried out in Mexico.  One of the great mysteries of the European Contact Period has always been, “What wiped out most of the populations of advanced civilizations in Mesoamerica, the Amazon Basin and Southeastern United States during the 1500s?”

It is known that smallpox killed millions of indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica, plus the Gulf Coast and South Atlantic Coast of the United States in the first decade of the 16th century.  However, a strange disease that the Nahuatl Peoples of Mexico called cocoliztli later killed 85% of the indigenous peoples of the Mexican Highlands, yet had no effect on European colonists or those indigenous peoples living near the coast.  Another one of the cocoliztli plagues killed over 50% of the survivors of the first plague.  The 1585 cocoliztli plague in Mexico coincided with the sudden abandonment of all the large proto-Creek towns in North Georgia and Western North Carolina.

The disease often killed its victims in one day, yet did not have the same symptoms as the bubonic plague or smallpox.  This is what baffled biologists and anthropologists.  Geneticists have analyzed the bones of cocoliztli victims in a Mexican cemetery and found the consistent presence of Salmonella entrica genomes.  Very strangely . . . this disease first appeared in Norway!   To read the full article go to:

The Mesoamerican Holocaust

Déjà vu

Ironically, that you are reading the People of One Fire newsletter today is directly due to Salmonella entrica.  I came down with it during my second evening in Mexico, while starting my fellowship in Mexico many suns ago.   That will be a separate article, where I discuss the symptoms of this disease, human interest aspects of what could have been a catastrophic end to my studies in Mexico before they started, plus the possible implications for understanding the Southeast’s past.

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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.



    Hey Richard
    I thought I had seen a headline about an outbreak of a hemmoragic fever in Africa. Below is the link to the article.
    One of the most frightening and disturbing books I have ever read was “The Hot Zone” by Richard Preston. It is the true story of several Ebola outbreaks. If any diseases like these got into the general population it would be a disaster of biblical proportions.

    • One of the most scary moments in my life was the fact that we lived near the monkey house where the outbreak occurred, when it occurred. Preston grossly under-stated the situation for Fort Dedrick, MD. For decades, people (or their livestock) in western Maryland and the Shenandoah Valley have been suddenly hit by strange diseases caused by hybrid microbes that the crazy scientists let out . . . either by incompetence or intentionally.


        NO WAY!!! HOLY COW!!! You were that close! The vast majority of the world much less America never realized the comet we dodged. I have brought this up with many medical professionals and they are clueless to this “indicent” I am not surprised you know about this, but am surprised you were so close. A lady i know is from that area and her family raises turkeys. She told me not long after the Reston incident most of her fathers turkeys got sick with the “flu” and state officals destroyedthe entire flock. Her father said in 40 yrs of farming poultry that was the strangest flu he had seen. Birds bleeding out of the mouth and staggering around like they were blind. All were burned by order of the state, no evidence was left…..
        Just wondering….

        • Would you believe that after commandos from Fort Detrick hit my farm, several of my young male goats came down with the hybrid mycoplasm that appeared a year later in the troops with Desert Storm Disease IN Iraq?. When the Virginia State Diagnostic Lab cultured blood samples from some of the goat kids, the hybrid mycoplam took over all the other cultures. They had to close down the lab and completely disinfect it. Normally, it is very difficult to get mycoplasm to grow in a petri dish. The mad scientists had injected Lyme Disease DNA into the mycoplasm, among other things.


            Well maybe the reason you have survived many serious illnesses is due to low grade long term exposure to a host of “stuff” like when i worked in a hospital. I got the new guy cold before my immune system built up. After that i did not get sick for several years.
            Man messing with nature, like at Ft. Detrickis asking for trouble, the Creator needs no help from us to bring death to the world. I think he is saving you to help teach exactly the way you are doing. Stay safe and warm.

          • Yes, I have had a long list of diseases and survived . . . the last being cholera exactly two years ago. That was no accident, but what “they” didn’t know is that the last time I went to southern Mexico, over 20 years ago, I got a cholera vaccination. So I only had severe symptoms for about 24 hours, then my body found the box that the antibodies were in. LOL


    Richard, I would try to give those Gov. Bio labs a wide berth. In a pervious article of yours the “Lamar culture” people arrived from the North to Georgia in the 13th century and burned down some towns. You have also noticed some of same Native symbols of Utah found in the state as well. That information would seem to fit with a Native “Fremont culture” people leaving Utah and migrating to the Mid West and the South during that time period. The only people of Georgia that made “pit houses” like the “Fremont culture” people were the people that lived in SW Georgia in the 15th Century. Also perhaps the Chiska of Tennessee. Coinciding with this 13th century migration was the collapse of Cahokia (perhaps called “Casqui” to De Soto’s men) where pit houses were built and where pottery of the Apalache and Chicka warriors was found. It would seem that the Apalachi and the Chiska were both connected to Cahokia (“Casqui”). Thanks again for your articles.

    • I gave those labs 600 miles berth. LOL The Muskogee raiders, who apparently burned Itsate towns came from the region east and northeast of Franklin, NC originally. They were not from the north-north The Zuni have a tradition of migrating from Mexico all the way to the Atlantic Ocean and then returning westward until reaching the Southeastern Desert Plateau. The keyhole houses in Southwest Georgia predate those southern Illinois and in the Southwest by several hundred years. I think that these peoples in SW Georgia brought the custom from Mexico. If you recall the Kashete (Cree) Migration Legend, it begins with them living underground in Mexico. Yes, I think that the Chiska were in Cahokia too.


        Richard, Thanks for the reply. I do agree with you… the first pit house people of SW Georgia migrating from Mexico (200-550 AD). I think they were a mining colony (Maya Blue?) of the Teotihuacan trade empire. There are two good choices were the pit house people were from: Yucatan or Western Mexico. Its not out of the question?… that both groups were related to the ancient peoples of Peru… some of which migrated North.
        I should make one correction “Casqui” could not be Cahokia it was abandoned by 1300 AD. Clearly… I didn’t stay far enough from those Gov. lads when I wrote that!!! LOL Thanks for your Great articles.


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