Richard Thornton | Aug 9, 2017 | 5
Why current POOF articles are emphasizing the South Atlantic Coast
Some People of One Fire readers appear to be getting frustrated by the lack of attention to their section of the Southeast. We would be delighted for you to submit articles on Native American sites in your neck of the woods. The website was never intended to be a one man show.
Here is the reason that during the past six months the biggest proportion of research reports have been on the South Atlantic Coast. We ALL had it wrong. I was totally shocked last spring, when I read the words of High King Chikili on June 7, 1735:
“Our first town was where Savannah is today. Our first emperor is buried in a tomb near here.”
The vast majority of Southeastern anthropologists had chastity belts wrapped around their brains, which prevented them from even thinking about the migrations of populations from other regions. Most Native American scholars, myself included, assumed that all the immigration from the south came by foot or canoe along the edge of the Gulf of Mexico or by canoe up the western side of Florida. Certainly, all those peoples from northern Mexico and the Mississippi Basin arrived from those routes.
However, it is now obvious that for eons, many different ethnic groups island hopped across the Caribbean Basin from South America, then hitched a ride on the Gulf Stream. There is also evidence that peoples from the Southeast island hopped from North America to South America via South Florida and Cuba. It was a two way street.
In 1721, almost all the Creek towns with Itza Maya names were concentrated either in northeast Georgia near the headwaters of the Savannah and Chattahoochee Rivers or near Macon on the Ocmulgee River, which is a tributary of the might Altamaha.
This would not make sense, if most of the Mesoamerican immigrants entered via Mobile Bay and the Alabama-Coosa River System. It makes perfect sense, if they entered via the Savannah and Altamaha Rivers.
For over 200 years, North American academicians have viewed the South Atlantic Coast as a cultural backwater, if you excuse the pun! The People of One Fire is merely trying to make up for lost time and poorly researched speculations in the past.
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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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