The Phantom Native American strikes back!
As a politically correct solution to a “Cherokee Museum” in Georgia being named after a prominent Creek family and political title, we propose that the enterprise change its name to the “Jimmy Carter Republican Museum.” A wax statue of Iron Eyes Cody could be at the entrance.
Espera Oscar de Corti was a first generation Sicilian-American in Louisiana, who in early adulthood re-styled himself as the Cherokee warrior, Iron Eyes Cody. Once that name got him parts in Western movies, he alternatively billed himself as a Sioux Indian Warrior.
In all fairness to Jimmy Carter, he probably did more positive things for Native Americans than any American president in history.
How would you like a New Echota Choctaw Musuem, Sequoya Chickasaw Museum or a Qualla Muskogee History Museum?
This morning an attorney in Gainesville, GA, who represented himself as David Kennedy, Jr, Esquire, of the Kennedy-Holden Law Firm, LLP sent me a sarcastic certified letter, plus two emails, that threatened a libel suit against me on behalf of himself and the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokees, Inc, because I said that Yahoola was solely a Creek family name and title, not a Cherokee word. I never had heard of this tribe until they demanded that I not mention them. I have no clue why they thought I mentioned them.
We removed mention of the name of the museum from the article, but will tell you about the threatening letter the attorney sent us.
I responded by email that we do not use titles of nobility in the United States, such as esquire. He must have written me from England, not Gainesville. I also sent him a detailed explanation of the etymology of Yahoola and the contact information for Thomas Yahola, Speaker of the National Council of the Muscogee-Creek Nation for confirmation of my statements about Yahoola.
Instead, Squire Kennedy, sent another sarcastic email stating that his tribe could name their museum anything they wanted to . . . including the names of Native Americans from other tribes. One of the examples, he used, was the famous Shoshone woman, Sacagawea. It is very important legally that this attorney foolishly presented his role as both attorney and aggrieved litigant.
What a Creek attorney told us after reading the letters
“Of course, an enterprise can legally use a wide variety of names, but those offended by the inappropriate use of a corporate name have a Constitutional Right to publicly criticize its use. A good example is the continued public protests against the Washington Redskins. This does not constitute public libel, since as both of us know, your statement was correct. Yahoola is a Creek family name and word.”
“In this particular situation, considering what’s been going on in Georgia for the past few decades, the use of a Creek family name and political title for a Cherokee-themed museum, which actually functions as a retail store, becomes a fraudulent public statement. It is subject to tort action and severe damages in federal court by any Creek tribe in the United States or class action by Creek descendants in a Georgia court. Because of the imprudent statements made by this attorney in conjunction with legal threats in three letters, I think that we have a very strong case for legal action against his incorporated firm, him personally and his tribe for violation of your constitutional rights. Here is why.”
“You have to understand that when a so-called museum markets itself as a commercial tourist-oriented enterprise, it lowers the bar for what is defined as violation of constitutional rights and increases the potential damages to the aggrieved parties substantially. You were not a customer of the museum store, but an aggrieved party, viewing from a public street.”
Richard, why didn’t they just name it the Dahlonega Cherokee Museum? Isn’t Dahlonega a Cherokee word ? Also, I also don’t understand why he used such threatening and sarcastic language. He could have just nicely said, “Sorry, for our mistake. We will put up an explanation for Yahoola in the museum.” Knowing you, that would have been the end of it.
“Let’s get this guy on the witness stand. He made some major legal mistakes in his letters. I presume that he was trying to scare you so much that he didn’t realize what could happen to him in court. Did you see in his second email, in response to your detailed explanation of the word, yahoola, he said that the Creek origin of the word was irrelevant? He admitted culpability.”
“His letter and two emails constitute prima facie evidence of his personal interference with your constitutional right of free speech, so we don’t have to send him a warning letter. Cut off contact with him, but first let him know how much legal exposure, he has put his firm and tribe in. ”
It is more than a matter of semantics
Those readers from other parts of the United States probably think that this is a trivial matter. It is not, if one looks at the outrageous efforts in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia over the past 30 years to erase the presence of the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Yuchi/Uchee and Catawba Tribes . . . replacing that history with an impression that the Cherokees were the only tribe in the Southeast and they built all the mounds in the Southeast.
The official Department of Interior map for the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act completely erases the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Uchee, Alabama and Catawba Tribes. All former Choctaw territory is labeled “Unknown Tribal Affiliation”. All former Chickasaw territory is labeled “Cherokee.” The Yuchi’s don’t exist and their territory in Tennessee is labeled “Cherokee”. The Catawba’s territory in South Carolina is also labeled “Cherokee.”
The Oakville Mounds are in Woodland Period archaeological zone within the heart of the former Chickasaw Nation in Alabama. The museum at the mounds is dedicated to the Cherokees and has an eight feet tall statue of Sequoyah at its entrance.
Etowah Mounds National Landmark in Cartersville, GA is considered the mother town of the Creek People. In the spring of 2006 a delegation of North Carolina Cherokees showed up at Etowah Mounds and demanded that all references to the Creek Indians in the museum be removed. In response, the Georgia Division of Parks and Historic Sites removed all Creek-authored books and Creek art from the Etowah Museum Store. It permanently banned the annual and very popular Creek Indian Celebration at Sweetwater Creek State Park. Two weeks before the event, the division director then uninvited a delegation of top elected officials of the Muscogee-Creek Nation to the annual Creek Barbicoa fund-raising banquet. The Creek Nation had just donated $5000 to the State of Georgia to fund archaeological work at Etowah. North Carolina Cherokee officials were invited in their place and the name of the annual banquets was changed.
We could go on with many more examples of Imperial History. However, it continues because the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Uchees and Creeks didn’t stand up and say, “No . . . enough is enough.”
Any Creek tribe in the United States wishing in joining the tort, conspiracy to deprive civil rights and ethnic defamation suits against the Kennedy-Holden Law firm and Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokees, Inc.. please contact us at:
Litigation will be in the Federal District Court of North Georgia.
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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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- Very pertinent film from the Atlanta Board of Education in 1947 - August 14, 2017