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Yamacutah Shrine

We wanted everybody to know that yesterday, the stone ruins of the Yamacutah Shrine were confirmed. The location is on the northeastern edge of the Atlanta Metro Area at the headwaters of the Oconee River. They were not where we thought they were, but nearby. The structure that looking promising on LIDAR turned out to be one of many mounds and stone structures in the two mile long complex that apparently was the original capital of the Highland Apalache. This is also the mother town of the Apalachicola Creeks. Apalachicola means “Apalache People” in their dialect.

Yamacutah Shrine

Yamacutah Shrine

This shrine was considered the most sacred place in the Southeast. Although maintained by the Apalache, it was visited by Native peoples from throughout the Southeast. The High King of Apalache settled disagreements between individual tribes. Keeping with the tenets of the Apalache religion, no human or animal blood could be shed there.

There are extensive stone ruins on the shrine site and scattered about the archaeological zone. All of the zone is either owned by the county government or protected by a conservation easement. However, Georgia archaeologists seem not to know that it exists. This site is especially important to me, because my ancestors lived nearby. Three of my ancestors, minor mikkos, were listed as attending a conference there in 1773 with British officials.

All of us are extremely grateful to the historic preservationists in Northeast Georgia and county officials, who made this discovery possible.

We will keep you updated.

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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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