Richard Thornton | May 9, 2017 | 23
The People of One Fire’s rare books, maps and color slides
There is an ongoing effort by academicians, associated with the occult, to manipulate and censure what information the public views about the past on the internet and in the classroom. Having access to the primary, eyewitness accounts of history is the most powerful weapon that we have in our battle to present the truth about our indigenous heritage.
In December of 2011, one of the founding members of the People of One Fire, Joseph Creel, brought me a stack of books containing rare maps, Native American dictionaries and archaeological reports for sites on the Gulf Coast. It started raining so we cancelled plans to hike up Track Rock Gap. Instead, we sat around the books with cups of hot tea and studied closely at all those old maps, which many anthropologists have so long ignored.
Joseph and I were quickly shocked at how different the ethnic landscape was in the 1500s and 1600s than how it is portrayed in contemporary maps. All maps showed Fort Caroline on the south side of the Altamaha River in Georgia. Many tribes that modern maps show to be in Florida were actually in Georgia and never left there until the 1800s. The Choctaw originally had many villages in the Florida Panhandle and Chickasaw lived at least 250 miles farther east originally than what modern maps tell us. There was no mention, whatsoever, of the Cherokees until 1717. These revelations opened our eyes to a world that we never knew existed.
That would be the last time I would see Joseph. A year later, he passed on to his well-deserved eternal award without warning. I still miss Joseph and his lovely wife, Hjordis.
Since then, history-lover and philanthropist, George Mathews, of Atlanta and Professor Gene Waddell of the College of Charleston, have made incredible donations of ancient maps to the People of One Fire. They include a rare Late Medieval map book, that Professor Waddell found while living in Italy. I can now confidently say that P00F has the finest map collection on the Americas during the Age of Discovery and Colonization in the Southeast. We have access to high resolution copies of hand-drawn maps that are neither in university libraries nor are online.
At least a dozen other POOF members have donated books or out-of-print archaeological reports to our collection. For this generosity, we are also extremely grateful.
What most of you don’t know is that I already had an extensive library of architecture, anthropology and history books, plus several thousand color slides. It has been boxed in a rental storage bin since Christmas Week of 2009. I have essentially been homeless since then. They include out-of-print Spanish language archaeology textbooks from my fellowship in Mexico. Some are even autographed by their authors, the famous archaeologists, Ignacio Bernal and Roman Piňa-Chan.
On the fellowship, I was required to take over 2,500 slides of sites in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize for the Georgia Tech Library. I still have the original slides, plus about 1,200 more taken in later trips to Mesoamerica. In addition, I have about 3,000 more slides of Native American sites in the United States and historic architecture from all parts of Europe, from when I was living there.
Perhaps the most valuable slides are those I took from Cerro Gordo mountain about 3000 feet above Teotitihuacan. Don’t ask me why I did it, but on my second day of studying Teotihuacan I hiked OVER the Pyramid of the Moon and in a straight line up the mountain behind it.
At the crest, I encountered the ancient walls of a reservoir that furnished the drinking water for the city of 100,000. American archaeologists seem to be unaware of this reservoir. I also found Montezuma’s private temple, and from there was able to photograph spectacular views of the valley below. The Teotihuacan Valley is now filled with urban development. The ancient patterns of Greater Teotihuacan’s streets and canals have been erased.
Well . . . I also was allowed by Mexico’s Relacciones Exteriores (State Department) to ship 220 pounds of Mesoamerican artifacts out of the country to use in the classes I taught at Georgia Tech. Each artifact was personally approved by Dr. Piňa-Chan and shipped in two bonded crates under diplomatic seal to the Mexican Consulate in Atlanta. No criminal act was involved.
The collection includes a sizable piece of a 1400 year old mural from the Totonac capital of El Tajin. It is still attached to indigenous concrete. Just like the Romans, the Totonacs developed the technology to construct entire buildings out of concrete. This heirloom is particularly significant since in recent years we have discovered that how much the Muskogean languages and architecture are descended from the Totonacs.
We need a research library!
Twenty years ago, nationally famous celebrities would drive out from Washington to tour my restored Colonial Farm and 3,800 sq. ft. home in the Shenandoah Valley, plus the Pre-Columbian art collection in its own room. The farm is now is a key property in the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Park. Thanks to an evil ex-wife, I did not get a penny from its sale. However, that was then and this is now.
I rent a cabin in a lovely forested setting, but it is far too small and too much a hovel to be a location to store precious archives, books and artifacts from the past. Fifteen years under economic and personal assault by the People of the Lie have left me with no financial assets to remedy the situation. I actually am earning substantially less now than when I was camped out in the chicken house near Track Rock Gap. However, here I am able to grow most of my veggies and gather wild fruits from the forests . . . so while living like a cloistered monk, I do have a better fed lifestyle. LOL
We need your help in creating a permanent People of One Fire research library to provide a secure location for these resources that will become increasingly valuable to future generations. I have a strong suspicion that several other POOF members would also donate their books and artifacts, if they knew the collections would be stored in a permanent, secure location.
The location of the research library should be in the general area of where I live. Robert Morden’s Late 17th century maps (see below) show the region between Amicalola Falls and the Nacoochee Valley, on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains , north of Atlanta, as the last location of a truly sovereign, militarily invincible People of One Fire. He called it the Apalache Kingdom because the last capital was named Apalache.
This region has excellent road access and a large university in its center. It could be located in a rural area yet still be convenient to major tourist attractions and the assets of Metro Atlanta. Your ideas and assistance would be greatly appreciated.
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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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