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.
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