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Richard Thornton

Richard Thornton

Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer   of the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa.

When Richard was a student at Georgia Tech’s College of Architecture, he was selected to be awarded the first Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and urban planning in Mexico. His proposal was endorsed by the famous 20th century archaeologist, Dr. Arthur Kelly.  While on the fellowship, Richard studied on site most of the important archaeological zones in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.  His fellowship coordinator at Georgia Tech was Architect Ike Saporta, President of the Atlanta Archaeological Society. His fellowship coordinator in Mexico was Dr. Román Piña Chán, then Director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia de Mexico . . . later Director of the Institutio Nacional de Antropologia E Historia.  Today,  Piña Chán is considered to have been one of the greatest archeological minds of the 20th century.  It was also Piña Chán, who first suggested to Richard that there had been extensive contacts between the Mayas, Teotihuacanos, Toltecs and indigenous peoples of the Southeast.

Between March 2010 and and August 2015, he was the National Architecture & Native American Culture columnist for the National edition of the Examiner.  Since that time, he has devoted his journalistic efforts solely to being editor of the People of One Fire web site. He is also President of The Apalache Foundation,  a long-term, multi-disciplinary effort to understand the many Pre-Columbian stone ruins in North Georgia.


Books by Richard Thornton

Books by Richard Thornton and Marilyn Rae

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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.



    Hello from northeast GA!!! We just read your article and it was extremely interesting. Ken and I are on a quest to find and document any and all Indian Trail Trees in our area. We have been searching for and finding them for over 3 years now. There are several different shapes and designs to the TT’s that we are finding. Do you know anything specific to any of the tribes such as: did the Cherokee Indians mark their trees a certain way, did the Creek Indians make the H or Number 4 trees? We are finding so many trees and we are trying to figure out why there are mainly three different categories of the shapes we are seeing. We are in high hopes you will be able to help us. Thanks so much!

    • Judy and Ken . . . the people to contact are Mountain Stewards. For several years, they have been documenting the Indian trails and trail trees in the Southern Highlands and Georgia. I know a lot about the trails that predated the Cherokees, but practically nothing about trail trees. My mother’s family were farmers going way back.

      Thanks for writing.

      Richard Thornton


        Hi Richard — Tyler Estep from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here. Have a quick question about Melilot — do you still believe it was in Gwinnett County/Little Mulberry Park? Can you shoot me a quick email? Thanks!

        • I didn’t see your comment until just now. I sent you an email.


            Hi Richard,
            I have been following POOF for a while now, and find your information quite interesting, and based on fact, rather than conjecture. I appreciate that very much.
            I live in Pickens County, and have seen a number of articles that describe some of the artifacts and sites near here.
            If you have time, I’d appreciate an opportunity to chat with you (virtually, or otherwise) to learn a bit more about this area.


        Richard, I own a large track of property in North Georgia. A College friend, who is suffering from a mix of “cabin fever” and “mid-life crisis” has been exploring my property, to become…. one with nature. He has been doing so for over a month… on and off….. and just contacted me, saying that he has found Mayan remains, a mound and other “unexplained” things. I plan on calling the University of Georgia tomorrow, however, after reading your paper “Mayas in Georgia Thing” I feel that you might have more insight into the discovery. I could not find a way to contact you directly, but managed to send you a LinkedIn connection request. If you would reply I would appreciate it. Thanks so much! Best, Jim


        do you have a contact email?


        Hi Richard, my name is Chris Brosnan and I’m trying to find a contact email address for you. I’d value a brief conversation with you regarding ‘Tsali’ My email is: or my cell: 604 401 1126.

        Many thanks



      A lot of North West Ga is marked with treasure marked trees. Ga was never so determined to force removal until Gold was discovered in the Dahlonega area of Ga.


      Hi I’m on Facebook under Cherry Narissa Mitchell Ocampo saw your article on DNA testing of native people’s of Latin America and the south east. It just so happens I have ties to both.
      I took DNA test and submitted it to both ancestry and gedmatch.
      We’re it is listed as cherry Narissa Mitchell.

      i knew of native ancestry one by looking simply in the mirror super obvious. have delt with the signs most of life but did not know exact orgins my clues

      I was born in Hendersonville hospital , NC but my family is on paternal side is all in Brevard, rosman, Haywood county, NC, Sparta sc, and Pickens area. Stories say from my dad’s grandmother raised who was according to him was full blood though his granddad was over half but a mixed . They traveled alot and mention a chef snake, snake people They came from originally from TN. no stories of being Cherokee.

      My mom my dad had told me was miskito Indian. She migrated out of Honduras in her 20s. Her family I found live in a small village called last minas valley arriba olanchito Honduras . Which is on a mountain over looking olanchito.

      Nahua territory of the agalteca indians people of the reeds, legends of ce acatl.
      Some tolupanes live up in those mountains as well

      If you are still taking DNA samples would like to forward mine to you for your study. I am also on line Facebook triangle native American society, unc American ndian center, miskito Indian forum.

      Would like to get more concrete answers to ancestry.
      Birth mom’s family avoid the subject of race all together
      Talking about Indian genetics makes them uncomfortable. Both my parents side have experience discrimination in there familes from there ethnicity.

      My email is supposed to be lower case letters but comment section won’t allow that for some reason

      • Hey Cherry

        Snake Indians sounds like Itsate (Itza Mayas), who migrated into the Southern Highlands in small bands between around 800 AD and 1000 AD. They originally worshiped a “Sky Serpent.” There are several stone sky serpents on Georgia mountaintops. Most Itsate eventually changed to the monotheistic religion of the Creek Confederacy.


    Very good site with real information.I have studied the Cherokee nation archives-Indian Affairs Papers et.cetera.I discovered an entire segment of uncharted history in these archived documents,( OIA – Microfilms of the Indian Agencies record group 75).One important account that you may not be aware of is an interview if Cherokee Chief ” Glass” . In this interview in 1815,he describes the boarder issue with the Creeks and the Chickasaws.He describes Augusta as “Standing Peach Tree” as a boarder location between the Cherokee and Creeks, and goes on to explain his rank in the Cherokee nation. For more info on the original Cherokee Chiefs please view my Facebook Pages @ Paul T. Vickers/ Cherokee Nation National Holiday Project: Sovereign Cherokee Nation : Arkansas Cherokee Chiefs 1809-1828.


      Do you believe in the Walum Olum; the ancient Delaware document?


    I am conducting what appears to be a very similar project to yours, detailing the stone constructions of the entire eastern seaboard, from Georgia to Nova Scotia. I have amassed a database of nearly 4,700 sites which, like yours, is on GIS and the site-specific details of which will only be shared with SHPO and THPO offices. Most of the data I have from the Southeast comes from the SHPO or State Archaeologists’ offices. It appears to me that there is significant gap between the cluster of sites in the Shenandoah and that in the deep South. If you continue to search northwards, you would see that the Shenandoah cluster connects with sites in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and eventually with the enormous concentration of sites in southern New England and southern New York state.

    Would you at this point be willing to share more site-specific details of your database with me?

    • Hey Curtiss
      I signed a written agreement with the National Park Service not to release our map. They provided me info on sites that are not even known by the Georgia SHPO. You communicated with me before about this. There were also several privately owned sites in which the owners only allowed me access with the condition that the info only be given to government historic preservation agencies.

      The gap between the two areas may be caused by no one looking for them. Grannies, we have identified 18 terrace complexes in the North Georgia and the southern Piedmont during the past three years -17 of whom were unknown to the region’s archaeologists. LOL While living and practicing architecture in the Shenandoah Valley, I encountered artifacts associated with Mesoamerican and Caribbean cultures, such as metates and tortilla/casava cake griddles. There is definitely one Early Mississippian terrace complex associated with a Frederick County, VA cairn complex. The Shenandoah Valley was heavily populated by a mound-building culture until depopulated by English sponsored slave raids. The burial cairn culture in the North Shenandoah Valley could be a northern extension of Muskogeans. The mound building Tamahiti in western Virginia originated in SE Georgia. They returned to SE Georgia when the Creek-Cherokee War broke out.


        To whom in the National Park Service might I respond with a request to view this map?


        Hi Richard,

        I got to this line and my jaw dropped.
        “I signed a written agreement with the National Park Service not to release our map.”
        Why would you participate in the contractual censorship of archeological content?

        More generally why would the National Park Service consider the location of archeologically significant places to be proprietary information unfit for the public record? What kind of science is that? Isn’t this exactly the kind of selective history management that has lead to the your difficulties confronting orthodox imperial histories? How is signing such a document not evidence of complicity in suppression? Genuinely curious how you parse the nuance, and content to accept that it was a lesser evil, if that’s what it is. Perhaps I misunderstand.

        I read that sentence and thought, ‘how is this any different than signing an NDA with Trump Hotels International?’ It is exactly the labyrinthine boundary conditions established by contract law that compose the fortified, bureaucratic word-palaces that determine our collective cognitive maps of reality, and hence preserve the empire even at its greatest excesses…

        While I have your ear, have you had the benefit of considering the work of Australian ethnographer Lynne Kelly? While she conforms to establishment archeological calendars, she does a great job of illustrating archaic memory devices that support the oral tradition and makes a strong case for their universality.

        Likewise, have you given any consideration to the work of the Electric Universe/Thunderbolts of the Gods conference in their efforts to advance a paradigm shift in cosmology, and to reconsider canonical history narratives that would follow such a shift? There seem to be many opportunities for synthesis between your position and theirs. At the very least you share an equal contempt for academic censorship, and I recommend you spend some time with their work.

        Lastly, if I’ll be visiting the Savannah-area next month, could you recommend resources for touring archaic sites/considering the alternative histories?

        I’m genuinely a fan of your pursuits.


        • Question 1 – The National Park Service’s budgets have repeatedly been cut since 2000, with the eventual aspiration by certain members of Congress being the privatization the national parks. The national parks and monuments where these stone ruins are located do not have the staff to patrols these sites. For now, they would rather that artifact collectors not know that they are there.

          Question 2 – I don’t known Lynn Kelly. We are strictly focused on the Southeastern United States and the people who migrated here. Personally, I don’t have any theories so just follow the evidence, where it leads me.

          Question 3 – Again . . . first see answer to question 2. I don’t have any position. I merely report research I have done to the readers . . . with them realizing that what is said today may be part of the story tomorrow. We are strictly focused on research and protection of Muskogean/Uchee archaeological sites. Don’t have any causes other than that.


            Interesting state of affairs concerning the Park Service. Privatization does not bode well for the revelation of history.

            Sorry to have assumed your curiosity ranged beyond those discrete provinces. I don’t think perusing Lynne Kelly’s work nor the productions of the Electric Universe crowd would distract you from your stated goals, and they may add insight. I offer them in the spirit of discovery.

            Thanks for your reply.

          • We working on this project many years before now.


            I’m trying to get people interested in the native places in my area, a few that are not even on the Florida Master site list. I get the frustrations. Rocky Mound , in my area, is 105+ ft in elevation , from a base of 40 ft. Yet , because it’s on oil company land , no one will even attempt to look at it. The stone formations in Georgia are not supposed to be there , and neither were the ” forts ” on top of places like Stone Mountain….so , because mainstream archaeologists won’t accept them , then these places ain’t ” real “. I also read on your site about the Calusa, who called themselves t” escampe ( or similar )”. Knowing that the Spanish used native names for their missions , and the first ” mission de escambe ” was located near the appalachicola , could not our escambia river be named for that mission, therefore be named for the Calusa ? But , yeah. The stoneworks of north georgia are very intriguing.

          • Rocky Mound is definitely a Native American site. I am really surprised that it was not owned by the State of Florida. It is really unusual for Florida.


    Hello Richard,

    You and One Fire have posted such thought provoking articles. Today after reading your Duhare/Scott Wolter’s Knight’s article, I opened my next email from H-Amindian on the H-Net website. Wanted to just forward the email to you, but couldn’t find an email address. Instead, it’s posted below. Thought it might be of interest to you.
    The Power of Space, Language, & Communication: A Status Report from Ethnohistory, 2015
    by Bryan Rindfleisch
    This year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Ethnohistory (November 4-8) unveiled a new wave of scholarship dedicated to immanently important themes and issues within Native American history. While the following panels represent only a fraction of the papers presented at the conference, the connections between the presenters and their research were remarkably similar. In particular, an emphasis on language and communication, along with space and place, emerged as recurring motifs throughout the meeting.

    Take for instance one of the first panels, “Hidden in Plain Sight: Ethnohistories of the Southeastern United States.” Elizabeth Ellis talked about the ways in which indigenous peoples often communicated to Europeans in the eighteenth-century through violence, whereby they exchanged messages and ideas about sovereignty and – ultimately – space. Meanwhile, Judith Maxwell demonstrated efforts by Tunica-Biloxi people to revitalize their language and culture today through a distinctly Tunica school textbook, part of a much larger process of historical and cultural reclamation. And through the work of Beau Carroll and Julie Reed, audience members discovered how seemingly indecipherable inscriptions at the Manitou Cave in Alabama were actually characters from the Cherokee syllabary, which similarly speak to the recovery of indigenous language, spirituality, and place. As Susanah Shaw Romney said it best, linguistic exchange and communication emerged as a not only a site of colonial contestation, but also a space for intimacy, mutual understanding (as well as misunderstanding), and a place to state intentions – altogether creating a “complicated linguistic frontier.”

    Language was also profoundly gendered. Gina Martino-Trutor examined ways in which the English linguistically transformed Algonquian women from martial females to passive spectators during King Philip’s War, thereby imposing European understandings of gender upon New England. In addition, Jamie Myers Mize illustrated how Cherokee masculinity underwent irrevocable changes in the early nineteenth-century as a consequence of the U.S. “Civilization Plan.” But such changes often involved a linguistic exchange of gendered meanings through which Cherokee people exerted agency, ultimately undermining efforts by white Americans to fully impose their gendered understandings upon Cherokee society. And for James Hill, the families – particularly wives and daughters – who accompanied Native leaders to places like Spanish Cuba carried their own political and cultural weight, especially since these women often worked behind the scenes to communicate political and commercial ideas of their own.

    Communication between societies also conveyed ideas about power and identity. For Alejandra Dubcovsky, the Native southeast consisted of a complex series of communication networks that disseminated information and rumor, which more often than not reinforced Native power at the expense of Europeans. Similarly, Martin Rizzo explored how California Mission Indians conversed across kinship lines to resist Spanish colonialism, while also using violence to transmit messages of resistance to Spanish authorities and missionaries. However, Steven Peach elaborated on how language was itself a contested space within indigenous societies. By examining late eighteenth, early nineteenth-century Muskogee society, Peach suggested shared political ideas about cross-community coalitions ultimately failed to materialize due to clan and kinship tensions. Finally, language was also tied to Native identities, as Abigail Markwyn and David Beck highlighted how individuals crafted and contested (with Euro-Americans) authentic “Indianness” at the Chicago’s World Fairs in 1893 and 1933.

    While often tied to language and communication, the importance of place and space was at the heart of many presenters’ work and research. Take for example Dustin Mack, who brought to vivid life the material, cosmological, and cultural importance of the Mississippi River to the Chickasaw people in early America. In what Mack calls the Chickasaw “Place World,” the Mississippi River denoted indigenous spatiality and identity, sovereignty, history and time, and spiritual worlds. Such reclamation of indigenous space and understandings is important beyond measure. But when confronted with Euro-American colonialism, Native peoples often resorted to violence to protect such spaces like the Mississippi. According to Lori Daggar, the Delaware witch-hunts of the early nineteenth-century intersected with the defense of sovereignty and territoriality. In the work of Christopher Smith, violence along the Overland Trail was in reality a contest for control over the spaces of the lucrative salmon trade.

    Surprisingly, colonial forts were a trending category of space discussed at the conference. For Cameron Shriver, French fortifications in the Illinois Country were primarily places of imperial weakness rather than strength, an understanding shared by both European and indigenous peoples alike. Building upon Shriver, Lisa Malischke examined the forts St. Pierre and Rosalie in the Natchez region, where she similarly identified European fortifications as sites of imperial fragility, evidenced by the violent response of the Yazoo people to those French spaces in the Natchez uprising (1729). Meanwhile, Brandi Hilton-Hagemann argued that Fort Laramie in the nineteenth-century was a contested place of spatial meanings, into which both Native peoples and white Americans invested their own understandings, but where – at times – they could come to mutual conclusions about the importance of such fortified spaces. In contrast, Stephen Bohigian focused more on the importance of American forts – like Sutter’s Fort in nineteenth-century California – as tools of settler colonialism.

    And of course, indigenous space is tied to identity. As Deanna Byrd demonstrated, Choctaw place-names before and after removal in the nineteenth-century created and reinforced Choctaw identities. Quite powerfully, Byrd examined how the Choctaw reinvented place-names and a sense of identity despite the dislocation of removal. Or in the case of Jamie Forde, who looked at flower motifs in Mixtec-Spanish households in colonial Mexico, indigenous peoples created new identities and sacralized their homes through the fusion of Christian and Mixtec iconography. Finally, Nathaniel Holly articulated how Cherokee people incorporated colonial spaces – particularly urban centers like Charleston – into their own indigenous worlds and ways of life, in a sense “domesticating” those places according to Native understandings.

    So what’s the big takeaway from Ethnohistory 2015? Well, if this year’s conference was any indicator of things to come, it is a very exciting time to be working on – and collaborating with others – in Native American history/studies.

    • Thank you Gina for the kind comments. It is certainly an important change for researchers to start looking at our words. Many of our most important discoveries began by just translating the words that Colonial explorers and government officials had written down . . . but had been ignored by academicians for 250-500 years. Please feel free to comment again on People of One Fire . . . or even write an article.

      Have a blessed New Year.

      Richard Thornton


        Have you come across any Lakota words in Gina Bolts response the word manitou means wilderness in Lakota. Our people have been knowned to be in the Carolinas and further east too. We have memories of the ocean.

        • A lot of people believe that the Siouan Peoples originated in the Carolinas. Many bands migrated westward to the Mississippi Valley and then northward up the Mississippi Valley. There were many Siouan tribes, even as far south as Arkansas.

          I don’t know anything about the Siouan languages, so I can’t help you on “manitou.’


    Dear Richard,

    Wow. Just found the People of One Fire site and your posts tonight. Thank you so much for your work.

    I’m a native Tennessean and a graphic design professor of Native American ancestry. As part of my own studio practice, I create artwork based on ancestry and identity within the American South, mostly based upon my own family tree and stories. My indigenous DNA has been confirmed through testing. I am currently working to confirm the oral tradition of my tribal family backgrounds, based in Western Tennessee and Kentucky, and I suspect possibly Creek, Chocktaw or Chickasaw (the oral tradition is Blackfoot/Cherokee).

    I’ve been suspect of the existing history of the Southeast tribes for a very long time. I grew up practically in the backyard of Pinson Mounds, a Hopewellian site in West Tennessee, and grew up attending their Archeofest and making countless trips to the museum. The images on the artifacts there have always influenced me. Once I entered college, I started making visual connections between the items in the museum at Pinson and the Mesoamerican work I studied in my art history classes, but, of course, I thought maybe I was mistaken and too young in my studies and my visual practice to speak to such things, although the similarities between the symbols seemed undeniable. Now, twenty-two years later, I’m thrilled to see that this area is catching fire. I feel validated.

    I’m very early in researching material for my studio work in this area, but I would love to seek your answers to a few questions. When dealing with symbols, how does the Hopewellian designation work with (or into) the Muskogean name…or does it? Also, I’ve downloaded Muskogean language resources from Oklahoma to use in my work, but, since my work will rely heavily upon the artifacts and information at Pinson Mounds, please correct me if I am barking up the wrong linguistic tree.

    Again, thank you so very much for your work. I look forward to reading more on

    Angela D. Lee

    • Hey Angela

      Bet you are Chickasaw. The Chickasaw originally occupied 2/3 of Tennessee and all of western Kentucky. Pinson Mounds was in Chickasaw territory There is probably no genetic connection between the Muskogeans and the Hopewell Culture . . . at least the Choctaw and Chickasaw Muskogeans. What probably happened was the artistic ideas were exchanged from various regions in the Southeast. Who knows? The Hopewellians may have gotten some of their ideas from Pinson Mounds. Reply


    Very interesting. Born and bred in Muscogee, County Georgia, I consider the speculations of the intuitive nature of this research, and am deeply interested in the memetic nature of DNA replication.


    Mr. Thornton,

    I am researching my Virginia-based ancestry and wanted some clarification. My ancestors were the Roberts and Beverly family lineage from the Pedlar area of Amherst County, VA. One great grandmother (Beverly) was allegedly an Eastern Blackfoot Indian. Another relative said she was Cherokee. My research points to Monacan, as the surnames in our lineage –Roberts, Beverly, Branham, Terry, Nuckles, were assimilated by the Monacan people as they married colonial settlers. Do you have any idea of the likelihood of her origin among these tribes? Thanks!

    • My guess is Monican. They originally occupied the eastern foothills of the Blue Ridge all the way to the Potomac, but were pushed south by repeated attacks by the Iroqois. The Saponi were down around Danville on both sides of the VA-NC line. One tribe that later joined the Cherokees was located around Bedford, VA. They were called the Rickohockens.


    Richard…great article. Let me know if you’re ever in need of an interpretive artist…I’m nearby. I’ve worked on numerous projects for the NPS including a painting of Yuchitown.

    • Martin Pate! You are famous. I am honored that you would write us. I am a great admirer of your art. Until I looked at your website, I had no idea that you lived in Georgia. I assumed that you were from Virginia or Maryland, because I saw so much of your art in that region when I lived in the Shenandoah Valley.


    Would you be able to tell me the language affiliations of the various Cusabo tribes? From reading, there appear to be some who spoke Muskogean and others that spoke Siouan. What is your opinion? I read that very early on, the younger generation spoke strickly English pretty soon after the English arrived in Charles Towne.

    • All of the members of the Cusabo Alliance, except the Okate and the Uchee, originally spoke a Panaoan language from Eastern Peru. Cusabo (actually pronounced Kaushabo) is a Panoan word that means: Place of – Strong. There is also a specific tribe with that name, living in Peru to this day. The Cusabo Alliance members in the 1700s probably also learned to speak one of the Creek languages because of the necessity of using it for trade. Twentieth century academicians assumed that the Cusago were Muskogeans because they later joined the Creek Confederacy. However, none of these academicians bothered to translate the Cusabo words. If they had, they would have quickly figured out that most of the Cusabos were not ethnically Muskogeans. The Okate People, near present day Beaufort, were Hitchiti Creeks. Of course, the Uchee were Uchee. LOL


        Thanks for your reply. I have one more question that pertains. In my research about these tribes, I noticed that some of the Siouan speaking tribes joined with the Cusabo to fight in the battle with Barnwell against the Tuscarora. But before that, there had been some who made their way down there from time to time. There appears to be a mixture of Siouan speaking people, namely the Pee Dee Indians. Is it your opinion that the Pee Dee Indians spoke Creek or Siouan language. If you look at their location on some of the maps, they were living in Siouan territory and I even have some connection to them today. The Cheraw and Pee Dee seem to be connected but when deSoto came through, where were the Pee Dee Indians? Town Creek Mound is supposedly a Pee Dee Indian Tribe mound. One more thing in relation to the first question. If these Cusabo spoke some form of Creek language, after the wars, and were absorbed into Creek and Catawba tribes, we would now have these people split between Siouan and Creek speaking people. I find that interesting. Any comment on this?

        • Pee Dee is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek word Vehi-te. The Pee Dees became the Hillabee Creeks in Georgia and Alabama. Hillabee is the Anglicization of the name of the capital of the Vehite, which was Ilape. Remember Juan Pardo visiting Ilape? What confuses Caucasian academicians about this subject is that the Pee Dee had some vassals, who were Siouans. There is a state recognized tribe in South Carolina that calls themselves Siouans because the white academicians told them that they were Siouans. They even wear Lakota Sioux war bonnets. There’s an identical situation with a state tribe near Georgetown, SC that calls themselves Siouan Chicora Indians. Chicora was visited several times by the French. It was definitely where Savannah is today and was an Apalache Creek word.


            Yes, I have read about the Chicora. So, you are saying essentially that the Pee Dee have been mis- identified and the Chicora have as well; that both were Creek. By the way, I believe one of my ancestors lived among the settlement indians in Charles Towne. The natives were under the protection of Stephen Bull, their casique. He became a wealthy landowner by bringing over indentured servants and obtaining land from the local Etiwan and other Cusabo tribes. But, the trail is hard to follow at this point. Since I know we are NA, I am trying to trace my various native ancestors. I know he lived among them because he was an indentured man from England. There is so little info about the indians, other than their history about losing their lands and fighting in various wars. Making the connection to an Indian name is difficult. If I sent some Creek names, would you be able to tell me what they mean?


    Hi Richard I have a photo of a chert nodule. I took the photo at a small museum in Georgia they never had the item looked at to me it looks as if it had been carved. I just don’t see how water in a stream bed could make it look like that. Could you take a look at the photo.

    • Hey Linda

      I am a historic/prehistoric preservation architect, not a geologist or archaeologist. I rely on those other professions for examining stone artifacts. However, you are welcome to send the photo to



    Hello Richard, I am so pleased to have found you! Can you please email me? I have a few questions for you, and also want to ask you how I can purchase your books. Thank you so much!

  12. Hey Meghan,
    Please contact me at The DNA of the famous Vann Family of Cherokees was tested. They had no Native American DNA and LOTS of DNA test markers typical of Sephardic Jews plus people from Scotland . . . in other words the Vanns were Scottish Jews, who absorbed Cherokee cultural traditions. One of my closest friends is a direct descendant of Principal Chief Pathkiller. Her only Native American DNA test markers are typical of the Florida Apalachee. However, she has more Semitic and Middle Eastern DNA test markers than the typical European Jew.


      That’s really interesting. I would like to learn more about that. I just emailed you. Have a great day!



    I have a gentleman that I am trying to help learn more about Georgia in regards to the Counties of Clayton, Warren, and Taliferro. He wants to know what Tribes lived in those areas etc…I have given him the link here to read but he doesn’t have a lot of time at hand because he is overseas working for the Government. I was hoping that maybe you would be willing to help him out with this endeavor. He is on facebook and his name is Edward Plummer. He is researching his Native/African roots and had family members who lived in those counties.

    Please contact him via facebook first and here is his email address for secondary contact: under the name of Marion Plummer. Thank you.


    • Clayton was Koweta-Creek. Taliaferro and Warren were occupied by Ogeechee People, who were a mixture of Uchee and Muskogeans. I don’t have a facebook account, so I will have use email.


    I’ve been looking into my ancestry and found that Willis Jackson Bone is my great great grandfather. I’ve read Irwin County Archives and an article about Crystal Lake where you commented on the article describing Willis Bone . I am trying to figure out from which ancestor the Creek Indian bloodline came.
    My great grandfather was Zachariah Taylor, grandfather was Frank Harris and father was Taylor Frank. I always thought the Creek bloodline came from the male side. Was it from Mahala Creek Bledsoe?

    • Hey Cousin!

      Until the mid-1900s, we found that the Creek and Uchee families in NE Georgia intermarried with each other. Chances are real good that your NA heritage is on both sides. There were five generations of women named Mahala . . . which means “teacher”. I am sure which generation your Mahala lived in . . . or if there were other female relative named Mahala in families that branched off. I have also found two men only a few years different in age AND closely related to each other, who were named Willis Jackson Bone. However, I am not a genealogist. There was no real need for me to prove anything genealogically. I have a lot more Native American DNA than most Cherokees . . . have Muskogean-Highland Maya features, my grandmother had a Creek first name . . . and my mother’s family were listed on the 1937 Creek Docket. It it looks like a Creek, talks like a Creek and is named a Creek . . . my golly, it must be a Creek! LOL


    Very interesting. My DNA did not show Native American but my grandfather and father look Native American and I look just like them! We are tall, olive with high cheek bones. Are those Creek features?
    I have Western European, Great Britian, Irish, and Scandinavian DNA. Disappointed, no Creek. Can I still call myself Creek? ???? Lol!

    • Oh absolutely Deborah. The Bones are definitely Creek. My mother’s family received reparations from the Federal government in the 1930s. We celebrated the Green Corn Festival as a family reunion each summer. Almost full blood Uchees (Yuchis) are showing up with almost no Native American DNA, but close cousins to the Saami in Scandinavia. The Bones and Burdens are also part Uchee. ALSO, the way genetics work, someone could have several full-blooded Native American ancestors and their DNA not show up in a current descendant. The commercial labs don’t people that.

      Do you have a Creek knot? It is a bony protrusion at the base of the skull, where it joins the neck. We inherited that from the Mayas.


        There is no Creek knot but a significant horizontal ridge there. Hmmm, part Uchee.
        And my Scandinavian is related to Samii people. I had no idea. This is getting pretty interesting and expanding exponentially!. Could you suggest good books for a novice like me to learn about my Native American history?
        Thank you for your help cousin.

        • Well, we have over a thousand articles on POOF and it is free. They will give you a much broader perspective than any one book. We have a lot of articles on the Uchee. Earlier articles call them Yuchi. I learned in 2015 that they were originally called Uchee, but Tennessee frontiersmen began saying Yuchi.

          Just remember that all it takes is one male or female ancestor not to pass on the Native American genes and the lineage permanently ends.

          I am about 26% Native American, Highland Maya and Polynesian, but most of the rest is Scandinavian from eastern Scotland and NE England. So when you cross blue eyed blonds with Injuns, you get folks like me. Some archaeologists told me that I look much more like a Kekchi Maya than I do a Muskogee Creek.


    I have some notes I received from an uncle regarding Willis Jackson Bone I would like you to read. Is there an address or email address which I can use?

    • The trouble is that there were two Willis Jackson Bones, who were related but born in different generations and counties. My Willis Jackson Bone fought in the Civil War in Cobb’s Legion and lost his lower leg at Gettysburg. He was 80 years old when my grandmother was born. His wife was 50 years younger than him!

      Email address is:


    Richard, Came across your article where you talk about a Creek writing system. I would love to have more information on the topic.

    • I would too! I am hoping to find more complete examples of the writing system in the Nacoochee Valley. We have re-discovered the royal tomb complex there, where archaeologist Robert Wauchope found a stone tablet with a writing system on it. Will keep everybody informed. Right now . . . I think that the writing system started out as a mixture of Zoque (Olmec) and Itza Maya glyphs, but eventually added other symbols.


    Richard Thornton, I once had your email address and communicated with you about Pine Beach in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama, and the Native history of that area.

    I would really like to ask you about something else that came up about that site, but it’s not something I would want to put in a public forum. Would you be willing to allow me to email about this?


    I have an interesting architectural-related story to tell you. My great grandfather, 1/2 Mississippi Choctaw , (And a hobo at one time, where he lost an eye in a knife fight ) built his own sawmill , and used the wood in his construction business. He built many buildings around town , a few are still standing today. In the 1950’s, be was contracted to build a building that other people said they could not build. As an architect, I am sure you know of the old small downtown business buildings, with the sloping roofs from front to back. Well, thiz guy wanted one with no center supports and a curved front facade made of all glass. My great grandad built it. 60+ years later, it sti stands and is a very unique building. Tbe only otber structure of his that is still standing looks like one of those modern modular small barn type things. Grandad said be would make the wood for these things on his sawmill, and could have them built very quickly. I can. Get a pic of the other buildi g for yoh if you Wang to see it ?


    Richard, I am researching Indian descent for my husband’s Tribe the Beaver Creek Indians of Orangeburg Co, SC. The Tribe’s forefather was Lazarus Chavers. We have paperwork that states that he was full blooded Indian but did not know what Tribe stated by a great granddaughter. I have looked and looked for proof that the Creek Indians were in SC and in the area that Lazarus lived.
    His Rev War pension started in 1832 and ended in 1835 for I feel was due to death. I have been looking for his children, siblings and parents. I feel a strong link to Creek descent, but proving is another thing. This Chavis as they are known now has moved south to GA, AL and FL. There is a huge Chavers linage in AL. Many of our members live in GA and FL. Many people have tried to say that Lazarus was Pee Dee, Natchez, Croatan but provided no proof of such. In talking with the Poarch Creek, they stated that they had linage members from our Lazarus but stated that those descendants have died off. I found Lazarus in the 1790, 1800, 1810, 1820 census for Orangeburgh Dist, SC Those early census records as you know, did not give much detail about who you were. Is there any way that you can help me to determine if our Lazarus was indeed Creek descent and if so what branch of Creek he might have come from. I thank you so much for any information you can share with me. Kathleen Chavis, Tribal genealogist and Secretary for the Beaver Creek Indians. PS, I really enjoy your site and articles. Take care

    • Hey Katheleen!

      Do you have a copy of INDIANS OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA LOW COUNTRY, 1562-1751 by Gene Waddell? It’s the book I go to first, when doing research on South Carolina. Wikipedia says that Orangeburg was a Siouan area. It was not! The Edisto River Basin was Uchee and the Cusabo Alliance (Panoans from South America, Uchee and Muskogean). Wikipedia says that the Santee were Siouans. They were NOT. Santee is a Panoan (Peruvian) word and tribe. Most of the Native Americans in South Carolina died of disease or were enslaved. Those remnants, who survived in the Edisto River Basin, joined the Cusabo Alliance. Some of the Cusabo intermarried with Europeans or Africans. Most moved to Georgia and joined the Creek Confederacy. Some of the most prominent Creek families came from western South Carolina because they were experienced in trading with the British. By the way, the Pee Dee ARE NOT Siouans. Pee Dee is the Anglicization of a Creek word. The Pee Dee Creeks in Georgia and Alabama were called Hilabees by whites. That’s the Anglicization of the name of the great Native town on the Pee Dee River – Ilape.

      Hope that helps you some.

      Richard T.


        Richard, Thank you so much for your quick reply. Many years ago, we went to the Pee Dee area in Dillion Co and McCall, SC and talked with the Pee Dee Tribe of SC. They told us that there was no connection to them and distance wise that made sense. We we formed together as a non-profit organization back in 1998 we were called Beaver Creek Band of Pee Dee Indians. When we found out that we
        were not Pee Dee we changed our Tribal name to Beaver Creek Indians. Most of our people lived along the Big Beaver Creek which feed into the Edisto River. Our Lazarus was a raftsman or trader up and down the Edisto. I know that a lot of this family and they still do live in the Hazelhurst part of GA and some also live in the Augusta GA area. Most of this family that went to Augusta changed the spelling of their last name to Chavous, why I do not know. I have been trying to follow a John Chavers that came up the river from Charleston to see if in fact he is related to our Lazarus. I know a Elisha Chavers left Orangeburg area and lived near the Savannah River and Lettice Chavers married a Yawn man and moved to Hazelhurst GA. They were in the 1790 Census for Orangeburg District, SC with Lazarus. Oh how I wish I could figure out this puzzle. Documentation on Indians in SC is scarce to say the least. There are books about the Indians but not who the Indians were. I did purchase the Red Carolinians but I will look for the book you spoke of earlier. I have heard of it but could not find a copy for it may be out of print. Thank you again for responding back to me. Take care

        • I found several sources for the book on line. It is in print, because I got a copy from


            Great! I will look there. I am thinking now that Amazon has everything LOL Thank you


    Hi, Richard,
    Just wondering if there is a plan for a “People of One Fire” museum…with you as ongoing curator. This would seem perfect to your talents…a museum of your own design and making, with dioramas and displays of the great American diffusions and migrations, especially to correct misrepresentations of American history, of its many cultures, their artifacts and habits, and their interactions. But specifically designating the ancient to modern Muskogean peoples of the southeastern US. Such a museum placed on private property (so as to avoid as much governmental interference as possible) that might be at an unrecognized but major historical native site…to also have outdoor displays and enactment…would I think have tremendous appeal to American historians, and to travelers as well. Being on privately owned land (and especially that is owned by a Native American – you) could, I think, include cultural artifacts and have presentations not generally seen and that are now being considerably curtailed in public museums by NAGPRA.
    I know that other tribal groups scattered across the US and Canada have done this, somewhat…but there seems to be a crying need for a central hub — a secure repository — for your greater Creek culture as well. Though excellent in their way, Etowah mounds and Moundville fall way short of such a goal…and don’t really tell the whole story.
    I wonder how much of the Leake site has been properly preserved or the nearby areas spreading over to and including Ladd Mountain, that might be available for this endeavor. I think a museum near there could enjoy spillover from Etowah Mounds and even increase traffic flow between them?
    Well…just a thought…but I will be among the first in line to physically support you with contributions, and to visit.
    From a great admirer,
    Ed Guidry

    • We have talked about it. An ideal location would be the Nacoochee Valley because it has been inhabited continuously since the Ice Age – and has been lived in by many different peoples, including the Uchee, Chickasaw, Itsate Creeks, Apalache, Sephardic Jewish gold miners, Cherokee and Anglo-American gold miners. The problem is money . . . the cost of building and operating such a museum. There is already a great location . . . in a cluster of museums being developed by the Sautee-Nacoochee Association.


    Just found your site this morning based upon a Google search I have for Murphy, NC local news. I saw your plea for funds and I was wondering if People of One Fire is a 501(c)(3) or similar non-profit organization. That might provide you access to various cultural, historical, and tribal grant opportunities.

    • No we are not. Five years ago, we set up a non-profit corporation. We got conned by a guy, who presented himself as a member of a prominent family in Macon. He cleaned out our checking account – changed the officers to him and his girlfriend then changed the password to our corporate information with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Will be honest, this donation tab is for account, which only I have access to. I am using the funds to obtain the software to shift the focus of People of One Fire to a Youtube account. We do not own this wordpress account. It was owned by the former webmaster. Whoever owns it anonymously now, added over a dozen advertisements without our consent and does not respond to our communications by email and telephone.


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