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How “Maya Myth-busting in the Mountains” got infiltrated by an ignorant “white” peon, who wanted to steal Cherokee sacred sites

How “Maya Myth-busting in the Mountains” got infiltrated by an ignorant “white” peon, who wanted to steal Cherokee sacred sites

People of One Fire Youtube Channel to feature long series on the “Maya Connection.”

Seven years ago, in an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ money,  a secret cartel of US Forest Service bureaucrats, officials of the Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina and some archaeologists in Georgia, tried to prevent national television networks from filming publicly accessible archaeological sites on US Government land in Georgia . . . then, when the History Channel decided to go ahead with their project . . . discredit the program, before it was even filmed.   This particularly corrupt USFS office was no stranger to controversy.  Three years before it had been busted for requiring private companies to make contributions to certain political candidates in order to do business with the US Forest Service! A member of the US House of Representatives was forced to resign from office because of the scandal.  The American public was never told that in 2012.

Their efforts failed.   Even today, the premier of “America Unearthed” is a very popular video on Youtube and has spawned several other Youtube videos by other film makers.  The majority of comments under these videos are very positive.  However, STILL there are a lot of dumb comments made by people, who known virtually nothing about the cultural heritage of the Maya and Creek Peoples.  During the next few months, I will be producing a series of short videos that explain the real history of the Creeks, Seminoles, Miccosukee, Soque, Koasati, Alabama and Mayas.  

This is something that few people know.  March 16th marked the seventh anniversary of when an employee of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee, NC  . . . for unknown reasons . . . added the email address that I used in 2006, while acting president of the Georgia Trail of Tears Association, to a list of email recipients that included the Eastern Band of Cherokees Cultural Preservation Office, a couple of archaeologists in Georgia, one North Carolina archaeologists, officers of the Society for Georgia Archaeology, anthropology professors at the University of Georgia and Florida State University, US Forest Service personnel and a EBC tribal council member, who was also a high-ranking official in Homeland Security. Address books in other peoples’ computers quickly put me on the emailings of most people involved in the conspiracy. This went on for over a year until someone in “federal law enforcement” apparently realized that he or she was being sent the same confidential emails that I was receiving.  Of course, one immediately wonders why the partial Maya ancestry of the Creek, Seminole, Miccosukee and Chickasaw Peoples would be a threat to national security?

Appalling is the only word to describe the lack of knowledge among the PhD’s on the email distribution list concerning both the Creek and Maya Peoples.  Even an FSU professor, who had worked on a site in Yucatan, obviously knew very little about the long cultural history and diversity of “Maya” languages and architecture. He lived in a world defined by artifacts.  None of the PhD’s knew that most of the Mayas did not call themselves Mayas until the Spanish told them that was their name.  Maiam was the name of one province on the tip of Yucatan, when the Spanish conquered the region in the early 1500s.  None of the group knew that there were Maya place names in the Southeastern United States.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians Cultural Preservation Office in Cherokee, North Carolina contacted their counterparts in the federally recognized Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole and Miccosukee tribes and described me as “a white man, pretending to be a Native American, who is making up false history about our peoples. He claims that the Mayas built the mounds in the Southeast.”  The Cherokee officials urged the other tribes “to present a united front against this attack on our heritage.”  At the same time, the North Carolina Cherokee Cultural Preservation Office adopted as their official seal, a Proto-Creek shell gorget excavated from Mound C at Etowah Mounds in Georgia. (image at left) They didn’t realize that it portrayed a priestess of the Maya god, Kukulkan.  The young woman’s headdress can be seen on many Maya murals and stone engravings. 

The logo of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Historical Association uses a Proto-Creek pottery motif found near Savannah, Georgia.  The New Cherokee dictionary, published in Oklahoma, displays on its cover a proto-Creek gorget found near Columbus, GA.  Are the readers seeing a pattern, here?  It is obvious that the North Carolina Cherokees really, really in their hearts want to be Creeks living in Georgia. Is it really that bad living on a reservation owned by the Russian Mafia?   LOL


Russell Townsend (Cherokee, NC) and Lisa Larue-Baker (Topeka, Kansas) are authentic Native Americans and Federally-recognized Cherokees, who were concerned in 2012 that a white man, posing as a Creek Indian, was trying to steal Sacred Cherokee Sites in Georgia, such as Track Rock Gap.

Lisa LaRue-Baker, a blue-eyed Cherokee in Topeka, Kansas, who then played the keyboard in a rock band, agreed to write an article in “Indian Country Today” magazine about the Track Rock Archaeological Zone in Georgia.  Actually, the article was credited to her, but I watched the body of the article coming from the EBCI Cultural Preservation Office, a member of the Georgia Council of Professional Archaeologists and a public relations officer with the US Forest Service.   The theme of her article was the expression of outrage by Oklahoma Cherokees that whites in Georgia were trying to steal a Sacred Cherokee Heritage Site, where many Cherokee chiefs were buried.   I saw no evidence that Ms. Larue-Baker had ever been in Georgia, much less visited the Track Rock Archaeological Zone.  The Cherokees pictured above had their photo taken at the Track Rock sign, but were not in physical condition to make the 600 feet high climb to the Track Rock acropolis.  In fact, in my many visits to Track Rock Gap, I never saw an archaeologist or a Cherokee.   However, on several occasions I met Georgia and Alabama Creeks coming to see one of their heritage sites. 

The US Forest Service used as its main paid spokesman,  South African archaeologist Johannes Loubser.  In his formal report to the US Forest Service, Loubser described the Track Rock Petroglyphs as “indiscernible graffiti by bored Cherokee hunters.”  Track Rock Gap contains the largest collection of petroglyphs in the United States.  Four of the symbols are Itza Maya glyphs.  One carving is a plea for help in 1715 from Liube, a Jewish girl caught up in the Yamasee War.  Most of the remaining symbols can be found on the Nyköping Petroglyphs in southern Sweden.  They have been dated to 2000 BC!

Loubser repeatedly described me to audiences and the press as “a white man pretending to be a Creek, who is trying to steal the Cherokee’s history.”  Loubser never met a Creek and never had been in Mexico.  A South African/Sephardic Jewish friend of Loubser’s at Oxford University wrote an editorial in the Journal of the American Institute of Archaeology, which described me as “an ignorant peon.” This coincided with a period of time in the fall of 2012 when I also was being painted as an anti-semitic Neo-Nazi.   In fact, I did not even know that Loubser was Jewish until two members of his Jewish congregation, who according to their bumper stickers were veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces,  drove up to my mountain cabin in their expensive sports cars, to threaten me.  I was not what they expected.  At the time, I happened to be clearing brush near the road with a machete.   They literally burned rubber in an effort to get their very expensive sports cars back to the safety of Atlanta.

As with everything else said by the Maya-myth busting crew, the statements had nothing to do with the truth.  My first love was Alicia Rozanes Moreno,  a Sephardic Jewish señorita in Mexico.  My dearest friends, while living near Asheville, NC, were Harry and Lillie Lerner . . . survivors of the Holocaust . . . in fact, Lillie was one of the few, who survived Auschwitz.

Eventually,  Barbara Duncan wrote Scott Wolter, the host of “America Unearthed” and Maria Awes, the program’s director, to warn them about my lack of qualifications to be on the show.  Most of what she said was merely parroted from what she was told by two archaeologists. None them knew that I had a fellowship in Mexico or that my mother’s family were listed on the Eastern Creek Docket, plus received reparations from the federal government.  They also did not know at this time that the Chief Archaeologist at Chichen Itza, Dr. Alfonso Morales, had backed up everything I said 100%.

Barbara Duncan:  “Neither the original article or the edits, as described by The Guardian, accurately reflect Cherokee history and pre-history in north Georgia.  Richard Thornton’s work is not creditable regarding the Maya or the Cherokees.”

Scott Wolter: “Can you give us specific reasons why Richard Thornton’s work is not credible that support your opinion?

Barbara Duncan: “–“The most obvious is that the Maya people did not “die out” as he claims, and relocate to Georgia.”  I obviously never said anything like that! A Maya guide and his two teenage kids were my guides in the boonies of Yucatan. Many nights, I slept in Maya huts in the jungle.   More than four million Mayan people live in central America and continue to speak their ancestral Mayan language.”

“–Thornton claims to be Creek, but the Muscogee Nation and Poarch Creek Nation, the two federally-recognized Creek tribes, do not recognize him.  Both they and they the Eastern Band have serious concerns about his work.”

“–In addition to erroneous details, his work shows a lack of understanding of the broad principles and findings of the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and history.”

Of course, everyone is entitled to his opinion, and free speech has given him a platform.  These are my personal opinions.”

In a documentary on the Cherokee People, broadcast nationally by PBS,  Barbara Duncan stated that the Cherokees were “the first humans in the Western Hemisphere and once occupied all of the Americas.”  She also stated that “the Cherokees were the ancestors of the Aztecs and Mayas,”  plus,  “The Cherokees were the first people to cultivate corn, beans and squash.”  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill obviously teaches a different version of history than what I was taught at Georgia Tech and Georgia State.

The Rest of the Story

I did not know anyone in the Muscogee-Creek Nation until September 2003.   While I was selling a little booklet at the Southeastern American Indian Festival on my architectural analysis of Ocmulgee National Monument,  six members of the Muscogee-Creek National Council came up to my booth.  One of the men stated, “You’re Creek aren’t you?  Are you a member of the Muscogee-Creek Nation?”

I told him “Yes, I am a Hitchiti Creek from Georgia, but a member of a state recognized tribe, not the Creek Nation.”  The continuing conversation resulted in me getting a series of research and model building projects for the next five years.  MCN officials actually tried to figure out a way to get me enrolled as a citizen in the Muscogee-Creek Nation, but it seemed impossible.  I have several distant cousins, who are citizens of the Muskogee-Creek Nation.  Two of my direct ancestors had been mikkos and signed the 1773 Treaty of Augusta.  They became allies of the Patriots in the American Revolution.  HOWEVER,  when after the American Revolution, the Tory Principal Chief, Alexander McGillivray, launched Upper Creek war parties against Creek Patriot families in Northeast Georgia,  most Creeks in that region permanently cut ties with the Creek Confederacy.  My family was listed as Indians on the US Census and continued to wear traditional Creek clothing in some photographs, however.  My grandmother’s oldest brother (by 28 years) actually took a Creek allotment in 1905, but no members of our immediately family ever signed the Dawes Rolls . . .  which is the prime requirement for MCN citizenship. 

Will the real Native American on this page please stand up?

In 2008,  the State of Oklahoma contacted me about being the Architect for the Trail of Tears Memorial in Tulsa, OK.  I did not even know about the project until then.  Later that year, organized crime pumped a large fortune into the Creek elections in order to put in people, who would funnel contracts to organized crime owned companies.   Everyone, who I had worked with at the MCN was fired, after the new Principal Chief was sworn into office.  They had played a major role in keeping organized crime out of the Muskogee casinos.

The MCN Second Chief was eventually convicted of violating federal laws and went to prison.   The situation was so bad that when President Obama was meeting with representatives of the Five Civilized Tribes, he refused to meet alone with the Principal Chief or even have a  photograph made of him with the Creek Principal Chief.  The current MCN government is trying to clean up the mess, but there has been no one there, who knows me personally, since 2008.

Now you know!


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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.



    Richard, the symbol I was referring too is the “magnifying glass” symbol…as one of the druid symbols that connects the ancient Sardinia druids with the Picts druids and…”the Fire starters”. When Saint Patrick (Roman Britton) drove the “Snakes” out of Ireland…that was referring to the “Druid wizards” beliefs and likely some had arrived to the Great Serpent area of Ohio by 200 BC. That magnifying glass symbol certainly connects some of the elongated head people of Sardinia to the Gaelic speaking people of the island of “Alba”(300 BC).


    Hey Richard,

    I went to Trackrock on Saturday and wanted to send you a report on what I saw on the mountain.
    The house on the corner across from the carvings is still for sale by owner. Behind the house there has been a lot of grading and tree cutting up to the left edge of the trail. From the way the land was graded, in terraces, it may be an
    RV camp site being built.
    Going up the old road, most of the trees that “fell” across the trail have the branches rotted off and are easier to cross.
    I started on the lower terraces near the road and followed the creek for a ways before working my way up the mountain.
    I found MANY more terraces, both rock and dirt, and water dams on the lower level. The amount of water that comes off this side of the mountain from these storms this year must be huge. most of the water courses were washed very clean compared to last year when I was here.
    After getting up to the village terrace by the carin, i noticed the village terrace had been almost washed clean by the rains. Very little leaf cover was left on the ground so it was easier to see many more of the house mounds and building foundations.
    I went further up the mountain towards the cliffs and found another flat area with many more walls and “house mounds”.
    I found several walls going up hill and right angles where there was a big rock that appeared to have been used in the construction of the building walls. Because this area was close to the cliffs and was smaller than the village terrace area, my thoughts were this was a ceremonial area. It was above the rest of the city, near the cliffs, a good place to prepare the kings for burial in the cliff tombs. On the way down I followed the road and it is in good shape. I still laugh when you talk about the FAT CHEROKEE ELDERS that could not walk to the site, its not that hard a hike but you will get your feet wet!

    The first time I went to Trackrock or Great Copal was in 2014 and have gone back several times.
    I want to give a little hard won advice to any of your readers that want to go to Trackrock.
    Wear good boots with ankle support, the mountain is covered with loose rock, that is where the building material for the walls came from, all around on the ground.
    Take a walking stick, off the trail it is steep and see above about loose rock.
    This is a LARGE site. The only way to get an idea of the size is when the leaves and under growth is dead in the fall and winter.
    Also with all the rocks there is a good chance of finding snakes in the warmer weather, and the site is covered in poison ivy and poison oak in the summer.
    Try to not cross the walls or walk on them all are dry stack and will fall apart if disturbed.
    While hiking up the mountain take the time to look around every few minutes, the amount you can see from the trail alone gives a size to the site.
    The trail up to the site is not super difficult, you have to cross several streams and all the trees that “fell” in the storms. Several spots are a little steep for short distances but it is worth the hike to see the city.
    Take a copy of the map Richard made of Great Copal so you have a sense of the layout of the city, it will make much more sense out of what you see.

    I would encourage everyone that can go to Trackrock and see the carvings and hike up to the city.
    When you are up there alone sitting in silence you can almost see and hear the city alive.
    I always have felt a comfortable presence there in the silence not mean or scary, just like there is unknown history there
    waiting to be found.

    Thank Richard I’m looking forward to your new articles on the myth busting.

    • Did you take any photos of the other buildings? I am not familiar with those, although I did know about the mounds. They are shown on my 3D model. I I got really sick at the hovel after the tornado blew the roof off and let the rain in – mold started growing on everything followed by rats peeing and pooping all over the floor, countertops and bed linens. So I never really finished taking photographs of all the ruins. Thanks for your report. RT

      • IWG42@HOTMAIL.COM'

        Unfortunately I did not take pictures, the battery in my phone likes to die quickly now. If in the next couple of weeks before the undergrowth comes out i can get back i will. If not next fall i will get back with a good camera.
        Where i was below the cliffs, i could see some places i want to get a closer look at with binoculars or a good telephoto lens that are high up the cliff and I could see what appears to be other flat areas That may have other structures. Because of the fuel load ( dead trees,leaves ect) on the ground I believe the site is larger than your map shows. Lidar has been done here but have you looked at ERSI pictures of the site?
        You know way more than me about satellite imaging. Are there any newer pictures of Trackrock since you made your map?
        One thing i forgot to mention earlier was i found a sea shell on the village terrace. It probably means nothing but it was very out of place on the side of a mountain in north georgia. It was laying in an area that was washed by the rain storms in very good condition.
        There were some very large snail shells and large flakes of mica everywhere the water had washed the terrace area.
        The mystery seems to only get deeper and gives more questions
        for study.
        I hope every thing is coming together for June. Please keep us posted.

        • Did you go up to the very top of the mountain? There are over a hundred tombs up there. They were sealed off with quarried stone laid with clay mortar then plastered over with lime stucco, painted red, green and white. I also found an ancient 6 feet wide road running along the rim of the mountain that had ancient stonework to bridge swales and guide rainwater away from the road.

          • IWG42@HOTMAIL.COM'

            NOWAY I did not know that!
            I knew from your earlier articles and other sources that there are tombs somewhere up on the mountain. That may some i could see on the cliff face. A couple of crevices on the cliff looked to have dry stacked rock covering them and possibly white quartz used to seal something. Thats why i want a good set of glasses or a camera. The top would be a real hike.
            I will have to get there earlier to get to the top.
            Not only do i want to go to trackrock again i really want to explore Thunderstruck mountain. I dont know if you found any more info on ruins there but on satilite
            the area the forest service cleared had started growing back. I wanted to start there and look on the SE slopes.
            Wow Richard you really gave me some great ideas for my next treks into North Georgia.
            Going to Trackrock, Sandy Creek, Etowah, and Little Mulberry Park, have really brought a lot of the things you write about in clearer focus. Seeing the rock terraces , building foundations, water works, carins, mounds and just the lay of the land at these sites has helped give me a better understanding of their lives.
            I wiil bet there were no fat elders that lived in these cities!!
            Its still hard to wrap my head around the fact that before the Europeans came there were millions living in the SE but the very few sites i have seen were not small villages, they could and did support thousands or were the center of trade for a vast area of the Americans with possibly millions of people in those areas.
            Once again I want to urge your readers to see these sites if they can. It helps bring understanding to a lot of the lay out and daily life in these places. And besides a walk in the wood is…
            Thank you again

          • I will be creating videos of these sites, beginning a little later in the year. I still have chores associated with fixing up my fixer upper house right now. Maybe we can make them into group events?


    Ancient American Mounds, Tumuli and  Fortifications:

    “The mounds and tumuli, he remarks, are far more numerous. Professor Rafinesque ascertained the existence of more than five hundred ancient monuments in Kentucky alone, and fourteen hundred in other states, most of which he had personally examined. These remains appear most numerous in the vicinity of the Mississippi and its tributaries, and near the great lakes and the rivers, which flow into them. A striking proof of their immense antiquity is to be found in the fact that the latter stand upon the ancient margin of the lakes, from which, in some immemorial age, their waters are known to have receded.

    It is remarkable that these peculiar works of antiquity touch the ocean only in Florida at the southern extremity of the Atlantic coast; and their greater number and magnitude in the south and west seem to fortify the supposition that their founders came originally from Mexico, and were, perhaps, a people identical with the builders of Cholula and Teotihuacan.”;view=1up;seq=1

    Constantine Samuel Rafinesque-Schmaltz

    • Your name is familiar. There was a Penley Cove near where I lived in the Reems Creek Valley. I lived in Asheville or the Reems Creek Valley for 11 years . . . prepared the Asheville Revitalization Plan and ran the program for the first four years. Quite amused that the “ladies who likes ladies” there in Asheville put up a bronze plague on Pack Square honoring one of their own, who had absolutely nothing to do with the Revitalization Plan. Apparently, that is where the Eastern Band of Cherokees take their history classes. LOL


        Hi Richard. Thanks for responding – I’ve lived in Buncombe County my entire life and my family has been here now for 10 generations to date. They were the first documented settlers to enter the area and settle in an area of Reems Creek called Dry Ridge. the founders of Weaverville are in the family tree. My parents are both from Weaverville and my mother was raised up Reems Creek near Ox Creek. And yes, certain people in Asheville hold sway in the politics of the city. Many of them take pride in calling it sin city.

        I’ve spent numerous hours reading about you and reading your content. I truly support your facts and somewhat understand the obstacles you have faced. I am familiar with how the Cherokee, with support of numerous institutions, try to claim rights to lands, artifacts and gravesites. Etc. Many of the claims are humorous and ridiculous, to say the least, but what do I know. I was told by my grandmother that we had Shawnee in the family but I do not know if that is true. I have read about the Shawnee town at West Asheville/Biltmore Estate around the confluence of the French Broad and Swannanoa Rivers. Much of the information has been erased from the state records but I have seen how the city/county/and Biltmore Estate brought in their archaeologist and are claiming it now as Cherokee. It is hard to imagine a Shawnee town without identifiable artifacts, gravesites or mounds………

        I’ve lived most of my life in Enka-Candler near/on the Rutherford Trace and at the site where William Moore’s fort was. (We also had Moores in the family) To the best of my understanding, this is also part of the trail of tears but not marked as such because of “historical confusion”.

        I have collected a few arrowheads over the years from private and family lands but most have disappeared over decades. I still almost cry about one from this area that disappeared. I did not know anything about clovis points back then. We still have a rather large collection of “#OldRocks, #OldWood and #OldMetallics”.

        I don’t know if you have seen my posts or if you would understand or believe them if you did, but there are many things I would love to show someone with your knowledge and open mind. Due to medical issues, my time on this old Earth may be short. I want as many to know the things that have been passed down to me before it is lost. Maybe one day we can take a hike. I would be honored. I believe I can show you things that may support some of your facts, but I could be wrong. I have several hikes that I have yet to complete but I am still on a quest.
        (It’s dark and dangerous down in there….) Most seem to think I’m crazy. LOL

        Jeff Penley

        • Hey Jeff, I lived on Blackberry Inn Road along Reems Creek. We had the goat cheese creamery up there. I also was the first chairman of the Dry Ridge Museum in Weaverville. Given your location now, you must know Wayne Caldwell and Katheryn Long . . . who used to own/work at Sluder Furniture, before the building was sold. There was a huge Shawnee town where Biltmore Village is now located. The eastern Cherokee boundary was Soco Gap – always. If you read even wikipedia, the Cherokees met Tecumseh there.


            Richard, I’m familiar with the old Blackberry Inn. I used to trout fish near there at Beech.

            As to Dry Ridge, a distant family member named Nell Pickens wrote a somewhat accurate book called “Dry Ridge: Some of its history, some of its people”.

            It contains pictures and info about many of my family members including cousins and my grandparents. Nell taught my father in grammar school and her brother taught my mom. I have a second edition paperback copy of the book.

            My grandfather owned the old Weaverville laundry and property where the KFC and McDonalds are now located and was a fire chief for Weaverville. My cousin Dennis owns the laundromat and car lot downtown. My cousin John was involved with town government. Many family members are buried in the Branks cemetery up Reems Creek.

            I lived up Pisgah Highway twice. I believe I remember the store near the entrance to 151 but I’m not familiar with Wayne and Katherine. I was raised near Sand Hiil School and the Oak Forest Church.

            It is a small world. I thank you for continuing the good fight and enormous effort required in passing our true heritage and information on to the world.

            Blessings and Be Well


    I’m in Franklin, NC
    Just found this site (was looking up info about the Mound here in Franklin that some controversy is brewing about of late)
    I’ll be “wasting” alotta time on here, I can tell 😉
    I’d be very interested in ANY group trips, or just trips you do to Track Rock.
    Your site is a wellspring of information to be sure.


    Thank you Sir. Those links are what got me here. Very informative.
    Funny to see the cad renderings placed in context with the natural surroundings.
    And to know the wife and I have sat across the modern main river channel (technically Lake Emory, a Duke power employee told us) at Currahee Brewing Company in plastic Adirondack chairs sipping the local brews.
    My how things have changed lo these many centuries later 🙂


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