Richard Thornton | Jun 3, 2017 | 15
What you never knew about the Lost Roanoke Colony
Would you believe that in the past week, we have discovered in the Georgia Colonial archives a very unusual “Indian” tribe that occupied the region immediately south of the Nacoochee Valley in northern Georgia, up until the American Revolution? It was defeated by the Tallasee Creeks, living north of Athens, GA, in 1770 and thereafter absorbed into the Creek Confederacy. What’s so unusual about this tribe? It had a French or Spanish name. All of the recorded names of its leaders and their wives were Portuguese, Spanish or Sephardic Jewish names. Now THAT changes the history books. These are some of the surprising facts that you will learn in the two part series cited below.
While the film crew was busy working here at my cabin last July, I overheard host Scot Wolter talking with the Assistant Director, Michelle Lappin, about the next day’s filming at the Nacoochee Valley. I learned that this program was to be about the Lost Roanoke Colony. I got all excited and told them that I had been going to the Nacoochee Valley all my life. Also, during the past three years, with the help of former NPS director, Roger Kennedy, I had been making all sorts of amazing discoveries about the 16th century in the Southern Highlands. They directly related to the History Channel’s planned program on the Roanoke Colony.
Well . . . the director and assistant director essentially ignored me. The History Channel had been bombarded by angry letters from Georgia archaeologists and archaeological associations complaining that I was not qualified to discuss Native American and Mesoamerican architecture. The day before officials at the Gainesville office of the U.S. Forest Service had told them that I was crazy and owned dangerous attack dogs. That is why the History Channel made a point of showing my friendly herd dogs in the film. Andy Awes and Michelle Lappin still were not convinced of my credibility at that time and unfortunately, didn’t take the time to listen to me. In fact, I learned later that they had to rework the “flavor” of the planned program on the Mayas when everything I told them was confirmed by Mexican archaeologists or lab tests. None of the day of filming in the Nacoochee Valley appeared in the final cut of the program on the Roanoke Colony. C’est le vie.
We may never know what happened to the two sets of Roanoke Island colonists, who disappeared. Fortunately, though, it is still being classified as a “mystery” rather than a “fact” like so many other aspects of early Southeastern colonial history. It is okay to speculate on this one, because that’s all we have.
You gotta be interested in these two articles, so go to:
- America Unearthed at Roanoke Island – The Dare Stones Controversy
- America Unearthed at Roanoke Island -Discerning Fraud from Authenticity
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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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