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Native American Scholars on the Warpath

For a summary of the architectural and historical research leading up to the filming of Unearthing America, you can read a 16 part series in AccessGenealogy.com. My book, Itsapa, the Itza Mayas in North America is available on Lulu.com. The electronic version is vastly cheaper! In advance of the broadcast of Unearthing America on the Maya New Year, the Examiner is running a series on the behind the scenes politics that led to Native Americans seeking to take control of their own history.

The article begins:

“I don’t want to talk about it! They treated us worse than the Coloreds.” That’s what my Granny Ruby would generally say, when we begged our grandparents to tell us more about our Indian heritage. You see Georgia, like many states, had laws on the books until the late 20th century which withheld those basic civil rights for Native Americans that were even nominally assigned to African Americans. My mother was the first person in her family that the State of Georgia allowed to attend public school. She was valedictorian of her high school class, attended the University of Georgia on a full scholarship and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Like women in four generations before her, my grandmother’s real name was Mahala, which means “teacher” in Creek. She was so ashamed of her Native heritage that she hid her own name, which in fact was a name denoting a special honor accorded her as a child.

If interested in reading more, go to: Native American Scholars on the War Path

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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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