Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
Northern tribes finally adapt technology of Southern tribes
Well . . . this photo montage that I created, has nothing to do with Native American culture, but I couldn’t resist the humor. The USS Zumwalt is an amazing accomplishment in technological advancement, but the truth is that its design was inspired by the radical new ship designs by the Confederate Navy during the American Civil War.
There’s bit of personnel satisfaction in this story. Back many moons ago in Naval History class, I pointed out to our instructor, who was a Lt. Commander from Annapolis, that the Dixie approach to ship design was vastly superior to standard warship designs of the 20th century . . . at least from the perspective of architects and structural engineers. You see the Confederate warships were not only designed to deflect cannon shells, but were also much more stable in hurricanes. The wind and water blew over their streamlined forms. On the other hand, until this century, ships of all navies consisted of vertical and horizontal plates of steel, welded together. The result were ships that functioned like water wheels, when struck on the sides by wind and waves. Such ships can often be terribly damaged by any explosion.
The triangular structural forms that created these Confederate ironclads provided much greater protection for the sailors inside. There was another thing. Japanese kamakazi’s would have skimmed over modern versions of Confederate ironclads and right into the water. Think how many thousands upon thousands of sailors’ lives would have been saved, if ships shaped like the USS Zumwalt had fought in the Pacific War.
Unfortunately, the Lt. Commander was neither impressed with my brilliance or amused by my regional humor. In a heavy New York accent he essentially told me to either leave my redneck humor at home or else forget about being an officer and gentleman some day. He who laughs last, laughs best.
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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.
Latest posts by Richard Thornton (see all)
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- What does Coosa mean? - May 23, 2017
- The Secret History of Northeast Alabama - May 22, 2017