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Native American Heritage Month . . . you will never guess its origins!

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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.




    I thought you might find this interesting, I found a copy of this in a Goodwill in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. I have had this document for a few years, there is alot of history connected to it

    Proposed American Indian Memorial
    This ceremony was organized and funded by Rodman Wanamaker of Philadelphia, son of John Wanamaker, the department store magnate. Wanamaker financed the work of Joseph K. Dixon, to study and photograph Native Americans in the American West. He later planned to erect a colossal bronze statue to “the vanishing race” that was supposed to be larger than the Statue of Liberty. The ground breaking took place at Fort Wadsworth on February 22, 1913, with President Taft in attendance. The statue, however, was never built, mainly due to the outbreak of World War I. The land for this site at Fort Wadsworth is still open, they tried to use it for a world war II memorial, but because the congress gave the land, but not the funding to build the Native American memorial they could not use it but for its intended purpose, the land is still waiting for a memorial to the Native American.

    The original copy of the document has over 900 signatures, representing 189 American Indian tribes from eighty-nine Indian reservations who performed signing ceremonies.

    I have just the cover copy, signed by the Thirty-two chiefs who were present at the dedication ceremony for the National Indian Monument who at this time they also signed the Declaration of Allegiance

    The document was also signed by president Taft. A few of the Chiefs that signed this document were at the battle of Greasy Creek or as the white`s call it the battle of the Little Big Horn. Some were the Crow scouts that Custer had dismissed prior to the battle, some were the Sioux, one of the Sioux that signed this document was Red Clouds son, Jack, who used the same name, and the Cheyenne Chief Two Moons.

    If anyone would like more information let me know.


    This article is quite informative.

    Having read it thoughtfully; ‘m going to give an opinion which could sound disrespectful to some.

    Native Americans shouldn’t be bothered with one special Native American (Heritage) day/month.

    For Native Americans, every day is Native American day;
    – Know where you came from; know where you’re going.
    Know who you are.


    I feel that the day/month rememberance is for the “white” and all other members of society to remember the Native American, not for the Native American`s to bring attention to themselves, but for the rest of society to think.

    Yes every day is Native American day!!!!


    As a 1978 Brotherhood Member of The Order of The Arrow, a 1979-1981 Executive with the Boy Scouts of America, and a Cherokee, I DID actually guess the origins, and I am glad to see credit given where it is due.

    Good work Richard, and Principal Chief Charles L “Jahtlohi” Rogers MD sends his regards.

    • That is amazing! I have never heard of a Native American in the Order of the Arrow. I try to encourage young Native Americans to take part in the Boy and Girl Scouts, but those on reservations often claim that there are no troops near them.

      Thank you for telling us about your achievements.


    Very interesting about the Order of the Arrow, I had never known the history about its formation. I was a Scoutmaster from 1960-1972 and a member of the Order of the Arrow. I always look forward to the next People of One Fire.


      Actually, the Woodcraft Indian movement in the USA was well underway under the leadership of Earnest Thompson Seton and Dan Beard when Scouting became popular in Britain under Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell. The two movements merged here in the USA to form the BSA.

    • That’s two Native Americans in the Order of the Arrow. I will have to eat the Order of the Crow! LOL However, I never even met another Native American, while in the Boy Scouts. I did meet Native Americans at Camp Glisson, which is a big summer camp sponsored by the United Methodist Church. Florida Seminole kids were given scholarships so they could come spend two weeks in the mountains. Quite a few came. We also had some Creeks and Cherokees paying their own way from Alabama and North Carolina.


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