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POOF Member Discovers Terrace Complex West of Track Rock Gap

POOF Member Discovers Terrace Complex West of Track Rock Gap

A new member of the People of One Fire, Nathan Burnett, has discovered a large complex of terraces, cairns and probable burials west of Track Rock Gap on Thunderstruck Mountain.  They were revealed and partially damaged when the US Forest Service allowed bulldozing activities in the archaeological zone.  The grading work can be seen in right section of the satellite image above.

Burnett is of mixed Cree (Canada First Nations) ancestry, but grew up in the Georgia Mountain town of Ellijay.  He now lives in Blairsville, which is near Track Rock Gap.  He has agreed to document his discoveries for POOF as he explores the mountain.  We look forward to future updates.

Just before moving away from the Blairsville Area, I also encountered the eastern edge of what appeared to be a large Native American burial area, but did not realize the extent of the archaeological zone or that it included terraces.   At that time the mountain had not been bulldozed.  I was concerned that if the remote burial zone was publicized, that it might be damaged by poachers.   USFS authorized bulldozers took care of that concern.

An early 19th century local historian in Blairsville mentioned seeing a large cluster of petroglyphs on the western end of Thunderstruck Mountain.  These are different than the ones in Track Rock Gap.  We are hoping that Nathan Burnett will be able to find them, so they can be protected.

This situation again brings to question the competence of personnel in the US Forest Service’s Georgia offices.  They refused to allow the History, National Geo and PBS film crews onto the Track Rock Terrace Complex, while simultaneously allowing extensive damage to a large archaeological zone nearby.  Both zones are of national, if not, international significance.

Ed Reilly of Metro Atlanta has also agreed to be a reporter for POOF.   He has just submitted a report on the destruction of archaeological sites near Sweetwater Creek and the Chattahoochee River in Southwest Metro Atlanta.   It will be published later this week.

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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.



    Richard, any federal employee in the US National Forest service that approved the destruction of an ancient site on federal property should be fired.
    As you have noted in your articles…there has been and still seems to be a major cover up on the real history of the state of Georgia regarding these ancient sites. How could our so called experts missed so many of these sites? The Native people should request an answer on this matter from the State of Georgia and the Federal government. Has your organization contacted any of the Smithsonian personnel to assist in documenting these sites? That might be the best answer for now… with the situation you describe with the Georgia USNF personnel.

  2. Mark, I have opened up lines of communication and friendships with archaeologists in other parts of the United States, who are experts on the Mesoamerican civilizations. Caucasian anthropologists in the Southeast refuse to communicate with me. African-American, Latin American and Native American anthropologists in the Southeast, however, have been quite friendly and helpful. Obviously, racism is still present in Southeastern anthropology programs.

    I do not pretend to be an archaeologist, but it is quite reasonable to consider me an ethnologist in addition to being a professional architect-planner. My role in prehistoric sites has always been documentation of what is there, not actually digging in the ground. So I am dependent on competent archaeologists to tell me what cannot be seen with LIDAR or the naked eye.


    Richard: You or a POOF supporter/fellow researcher could enhance this article by obtaining Forestry records re this bulldozing under the Freedom of Information Act. This helps dive deeper and more pointedly into the subjects/questions you and your on-the-ground researcher raise. Later….

    • I never heard from him again. Considering what else has been going on that I have not told you about . . . it may have been a trick to get me to hike at the locale. I don’t go to Track Rock Gap alone or with strangers anymore. There are some evil men living nearby.


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We are now celebrating the 11th year of the People of One Fire. In that time, we have seen a radical change in the way people receive information. The magazine industry has almost died. Printed newspapers are on life support. Ezines, such as POOF, replaced printed books as the primary means to present new knowledge. Now the media is shifting to videos, animated films of ancient towns, Youtube and three dimensional holograph images.

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