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French Exploration of the Southeast in the Sixteenth Century

This interim report will give you a fascinating glimpse of Native American societies in the South Atlantic Coastal Plain during the late 16th century. They were far more ethnically diverse than most anthropologists have assumed. In the coming months, we plan to reinforce it with research papers based on the analysis of surviving Spanish letters and reports from that era.

Using French colonial archives, memoirs and maps, interpolated with satellite infrared imagery, we think we may have found the real location of Fort Caroline on the Altamaha River. It is more inland that probably most people suspected. Captain René de Laudonniére did say that he chose a location with sufficient potable, fresh water for a large town. By September 22, 1565 he WOULD have had about 1000 colonists at Fort Caroline, had not a hurricane and the Spanish intervened on September 21. The site appears to be on land owned by the State of Georgia, but this is not certain yet.

The following interim report is an analysis of the French archives, reinforced with the on-going Native American historical research by several People of One Fire members:

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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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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