Chapter Two of “The Mayas In Georgia” video series on our YouTube channel
by Richard Thornton, Architect and City Planner
A consistent trait that I have observed of TV, print media and internet journalists these days is that they are grossly ignorant of Native American history . . . even events that occurred in the past fifty years. They are too lazy . . . or perhaps think themselves too busy, to fact check press releases or statements made by perceived authority figures. They dutifully report propaganda stated by government press releases, individual academicians or archaeologists as historical orthodoxy without fact-checking the statements. Because of declining advertising revenue, there is enormous pressure on journalists in the lower tiers of employment to churn out vast volumes of articles that might catch the eye of potential readers. Sensationalism is far more important than accuracy, since many readers will often have forgotten the article by the next day.
Even public broadcasting institutions such as PBS (USA) and CBC (Canada) are grossly guilty of this faux pas, when it comes to Native American-themed documentaries. Archaeologists and Native American/First Nations representatives are allowed to present fiction as fact in documentaries, when such things would not be allowed of speakers from other cultural backgrounds.
For example, several years ago PBS broadcast nationally a one hour program on the “History of the Cherokee People,” which was funded by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. A staff member of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian made the following ludicrous statements as a summary at the end of the film. This film has also been shown to millions of school children. PBS made no effort to inform students that these statements represented that individual speaker’s “religious beliefs,” not factual history.
- The Cherokees were the first humans to arrive in the Americas and have lived in North Carolina for 12,000 years.
- The Cherokees once occupied all of the Americas from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego
- The Cherokees were the first people to make pottery in the Americas.
- The Cherokees were the ancestors of the Aztecs and Mayas. (Later statements indicated that the lady didn’t know that the Maya Civilization preceded the Aztec Civilization.)
- The Cherokees were the first people to cultivate corn, beans and squash . . . the Three Sisters.
- The Cherokees built most of the mounds in the Southeastern and Midwestern United States.
- The Cherokees were the first people in the Americas to have a writing system.
It is obvious that most journalists today are not aware of the systematic way that the United States used worthless treaties, forced land cessions and crushing military actions to strip the Southeastern Indigenous Peoples of their advanced cultural traditions. Just because they were in desperate, primitive conditions in the 1800s, does not mean that they were always that way.
Eyewitness accounts of the ancestors of the Creeks during the early Colonial Period describe them having (1) large, planned towns, (2) regional governments, (3) dense populations, (4) brightly colored, woven clothing, (5) sophisticated agricultural practices, (6) extensive regional trading networks (7) and in the case of the Creeks, a writing system. These are all hallmarks of a true civilization. You will NEVER hear a Southeastern academician describing the indigenous peoples of this region as a civilization.
This video starts with the decline of Pre-Columbian Muskogean civilization then moves to the Creek Confederacy’s tidewater of political and military power then describes the series of treaties and wars that brought the Muskogean peoples to almost the lowest levels of human existence. It then describes the key events and personalities, who sparked the renaissance of the Creek and Seminole Peoples in the late 20th century. I have also provided links to the Prologue and Chapter One of “The Mayas In Georgia.”