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Genocide of the Wahale People

In early 2006, while converting the sketches made by the archaeologists of the American Museum of Natural History at St. Catherines Island, GA into precise architectural drawings, I made an amazing discovery. In 1587 a Spanish military engineer had used the exact same words to describe the houses of the Wahale People on the coast of Georgia (Guale) as Lt. Henry Timberlake, a British officer, had used to describe the houses in the Cherokee town of Tomatly on the Little Tennessee River in the Smoky Mountains during 1763. Both military officers said that the houses were rectangular, had three rooms and were finished by a type of stucco made from burnt shell lime, white clay, crushed shells and fine sand. This was the origin of the famous tabby architecture of the Southeastern coast.

Itza Maya houses had three rooms and were finished with crude lime stucco. Why would a single branch of the Cherokees living in the Smoky Mountains, who called their chief a “mako” like the Itsate Creeks in Georgia and Itza Mayas in Mexico, build houses like the Itza Mayas in Mexico, and Muskogeans of the Georgia Coastal Plain? All other Cherokees built crude round houses or log cabins. Something was terribly wrong with the orthodox history of the Southeastern USA.

This embarked me on a journey to discover the true history of the Southeast before 1776. The experience involved many surprises and unforeseen discoveries. One of the biggest surprises was in the archives of the British Museum during 2009. They were the only complete architectural drawings ever made of an early European colony. The colonial town’s name was Fort St. George. It was in Maine and it was built in 1607, the same year that Jamestown was founded. However, Fort St. George was a complete town with many types of structures and sophisticated fortifications. In my entire life, I had never known that two British colonies were founded in 1607. It has been left out of the history books.

Fort St. George, Maine

Fort St. George, Maine 1607 from Earthfast: The Dawn of a New World 1526-1608

The book on the initial era of European colonization is based on seven years of research. It will be published later this month. I thought the readers would be particularly interested in the chapter on the Spanish missions that were built on the coast of Georgia. In 1500 there were at least 40,000 Wahale (“Southerners” in the Itstate & Mvskoke Creek languages.) There were about 20,000 Wahale in 1604, when the third mission was built on St. Catherines Island, GA. A century later there would be a total of 52 Wahale huddled in a mission on Amelia Island, FL. Within a few years the Wahale would be completely extinct.

Guess this book will trigger a new opposition group known as “Maya Myth-busting in the Marshes.”  😆

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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.

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