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The Sweetwater Creek Stela . . . our first success story

The Sweetwater Creek Stela . . . our first success story


Immigrants from Cuba and Puerto Rico formed provinces in the Southeast long before Columbus

In early 2011,  while I was living in an abandoned chicken house near Track Rock Gap, Georgia,  I was asked by former National Park Service Director, Roger Kennedy, to photograph the ruins of a pre-Civil War textile mill at Sweetwater State Park in Southwest Metro Atlanta. Afterward, I stopped by the park’s visitor’s center to go to the bathroom and was astonished to see a stone tablet like nothing I had ever seen before in the United States.  At that time, it was labeled “Example of Cherokee Art found near this park in 1909.”  I knew that was horse manure.  The location had been within the boundaries of the Creek Confederacy until 1818.  Proto-Creek town sites were densely packed along the Chattahoochee River, upstream and downstream.  However, this stela looked nothing like tradition Creek art.  What did it mean and who carved it.   I first did some research and wrote an article on it in my National Examiner column.  I then sent out email inquiries to university anthropology departments around the United States and several Latin American countries.  The answer to this riddle came back from the University of Puerto Rico . . . and that answer was a doozy!   To learn more about the history of the Sweetwater Creek Stela, go to:   The Sweetwater Creek Stela and Stone Circle

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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.



    This is so amazing. We would like to know if you can get there and check this all out in person!

    • Yes, you can. Anytime that the park visitor’s center is open, you may see the stela.


    Richard, as you stated the Chachapoya (cloud people of Peru) seem to be a connection to one people that lived in Tennessee. According to the design of their homes the same as the Apalachi of North Georgia and some people of Costa Rica. After 500 years of being noted by the Spaniards and siding with them against the Inca… very little research has been done on who this ancient turban wearing, blond haired people were by our universities. But it is a fact that people from all directions made it to this landmass. This could be the “moon eyed people” of lore from the Cherokees. That Stonehenge in your linked article would not look out of place in Peru, Georgia-Virginia, Ireland, North Africa, all the way to Armenia. Also the Tuscaloosa /St. John’s / Knights Templar sign was used by the Native people of Peru which is another connection to the Creek multi-mixed Natives and the Cherokees and the peoples of the Western side of South America. William Bartram notes the sound used among many Creek Chiefs in Northern Alabama: A-la-lu ah…Could that be a connection with the bronze age Hittites that had a lore of their first demi god giant King called “Alalu” who lived on a mountain island in the Atlantic? Another connection that the Asia minor people knew of the Azores islands in 2-3000 BC.


    Richard, I was watching a Tv show about the Zokee /Olmecs site of La Venta and what was found buried there was a Jade statue with an “Iron” item. If they are right about that….that rewrites the history of iron to this landmass. In fact if Copper was right that the Zokee People artifacts go back to 3000 BC…iron might have been invented in the Americas.

    • Mark, there is so much that we don’t know about the Americas right now. All I can do is just document these forgotten sites as best as I can. Anything is possible.


        Another Great discovery a day from you Richard. Thanks for your efforts!! The Apalachi and Chiska warriors pottery seems to have been the start of an alliance that lasted for hundreds of Years…


      I have seen mentions of iron items in old descriptions of things found in mounds in North America as well, many of them were too corroded to even tell what the original item had been.

      • That is true. Highly oxidized iron tools and weapons have been found in several of Georgia’s mounds, but archaeologists don’t want to talk about it.


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