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Images: Native village found with satellite imagery in Canton, GA

Images: Native village found with satellite imagery in Canton, GA


These three images show the exciting possibilities of using remote sensing techniques to identify and protect Native American sites in the Southeast.  When I first found this village site about seven years ago, several of the “blobs” made by house footprints were more rectangular in appearance.  However, the earlier satellite photo was made in the winter.  The ERSI and Coral softwares enhance the original visible light photograph to a near visible light-infrared image. 

The repeated construction of houses created low mounds. In the summer time, the locations of the houses reflect grass with more nutrients.  The cattle eat that grass first, leaving only stubs of grass blades.  In the middle of the winter, especially after a rain,  the house footprints are darker than surrounding soil, due to the higher level of organic matter in the soil.




The rounded form on the lower right hand corner of the circle of houses was probably a chokopa or rotunda for communal use by the village.

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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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