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Origin of the People of One Fire

The roots of the People of One Fire go back to around 1999, when substantial numbers of North Americans began hooking up to the “new-fangled” internet. A pantheon of free dating sites popped up. Southeastern Native Americans living outside of Oklahoma and a few reservations were culturally isolated. By taking the bold step of listing their race as Native American, they would be provided with photos and profiles of thousands of Native American singles around the nation. This quickly instilled a sense of cultural solidarity and pride that had been missing for many generations. Although long distance contacts rarely resulted in marriage, they did start solid friendships among Native American singles.

Also, about that time, the Creeks-Southeast message board began operating. It was originally intended to be limited to questions about genealogy, but soon evolved into a social networking site where Native Americans and wannabe Native Americans could make friends, even if they were not looking for a date or a mate. Email pals often would provide personal email addresses via Creek-Southeast that blossomed into platonic friendships. The website “mother” also began to allow general questions and comments concerning Native American history.

Beginning in 2005, eighteen Creek, Choctaw and Seminole scholars began collaborating their research outside the Creek-Southeast message board. Amazing advances in the understanding of the past quickly resulted. This informal relationship continued until late 2006, when the group decided to create a name for their organization in order to present a united front when Native American heritage sites were threatened or academicians published inaccurate descriptions of Muskogean culture. Thus, the People of One Fire Alliance was formed. Its publications have evolved from infrequent, full color e-zines to frequent informal newsletters to now, a website depository for research and historical archives.

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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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