by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
But the folks in Georgia were about the last people in the world to find out about it
Where has the time gone? After months of heavy promotion on the History Channel . . . at 9:00 PM EST on December 21, 2012 . . . the end of the old Maya calendar and the beginning of a new cycle . . . America Unearthed premiered in the United States. The premier was originally called the “Georgia Mayan Connection” but is now called the “American Mayan Connection.“ The plot of the program was geologist’s Scott Wolter’s search for proof that Maya refugees had migrated to Georgia after the fall of their civilization and become the ancestors of the Creek Indians.
The climax of the program is when scientists at the University of Minnesota announced that they had 100% proof that attapulgite, mined in Georgia, was used to make the Maya Blue stucco in the great Itza Maya city of Palenque, Chiapas State, Mexico. Keep in mind that this was the plot, not the actual chain of events. You will learn about them later.
During 2012, the Gainesville, GA Office of the US Forest Service sponsored the Maya Myth-busting in the Mountains propaganda campaign. It has to be one of the most grotesque wastes of taxpayer’s money in our history. This office repeatedly violated the First Amendment by refusing to allow the National Geo Channel, PBS and the History Channel from filming documentaries on public hiking trails and an archaeological zone at which people had been picnicking for over a century.
They allowed the Travel Channel to film a 15 minute program there on March 1, 2012 but stopped permitting other companies and people to film the site afterward. The official reason was that “they didn’t want to offend the Cherokees” . . . who had absolutely nothing to do with the site. During that year, individual USFS employees also contacted individual newspaper reporters and threatened them.
When the History Channel decided to go ahead with the project without filming the Track Rock ruins, the state office of the USFS forged a “holy alliance” of themselves, the Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina, the Dixie Mafia, ultra-rightwingers in the Republican Party and six aging archaeologists in a crusade to stop the Mayas from coming to Georgia. The rest is history.
Although the History Channel program was basically an examination of my book, Itsapa . . . the Itza Mayas in North America, the viewers were not told that. It was presented as an investigation by a geologist from Minnesota. Actually, I didn’t even get to watch the program. I didn’t have a TV nor could I afford a cable connection. I asked friends around the Dahlonega area, where I lived and where much of the program was filmed, if I could watch it at their house. Nope . . . their cable services were not carrying the premier, but had the second show on their listings.
We later learned that some very powerful politicians in Georgia placed heavy pressure on the cable and satellite TV companies to black out the program in the state. Only some people in predominantly Democratic areas of Metro Atlanta were able to watch it, but even there it was not publicized by the TV stations and newspapers. The tourism promotion people in state government were horrified when this occurred, because the show was “million dollar” publicity for several of Georgia’s most important heritage tourism attractions, but they had to remain silent, to keep their jobs.
Once I realized that this was a major, prime time TV show, I was to be on, I started having two delusions . . . one of which were encouraged by the show’s host, Scott Wolter. On the Sunday morning in October 2011, when Scott called me up to tell me of the amazing lab results at the University of Minnesota, he told me that I was going to make a lot of money from speaking engagements.
That never occurred. Even though, through the years prior to 2012, I had given well over a hundred slide lectures on Mesoamerican architecture to college classes, archaeological societies, etc., I was never invited to speak on the subject after being on several national TV programs. Very recently, I have been invited to speak twice, in the more progressive county where I recently moved, on the general subject of Native American history.
Also, I was terribly lonely. I imagined that after being a “rock star” on prime-time TV, the local ladies would be beating down the door of my cabin. That never happened. Instead, deputies went around the county telling people I was a male prostitute and predator of college coeds, plus that all the buildings I had designed, fell down. Being convinced that I was a pervert because I had an IQ over 65 . . . had not taken Adolf Hitler as my Lard and Saveyer, someone in law enforcement put a very sophisticated tracking device in the back of my car radio. It only emitted signals when in range of law enforcement radio towers.
University of North Georgia Criminal Justice students were given an app to put in their Smart Phones to track me as class projects. Photos of me were also downloaded in their devices. I had noticed for several years that students and/or campus cops often tailed me around town or when I drove past the campus to shop at Walmart.
Eventually, an irate customer at a Dahlonega Dollar General tipped me off what was going on. She ran back into the store to tell me that those two college kids, who peeked into the store then went outside, were taking pictures of the inside of my Explorer. She also said that she saw my photo on the screen of their smart phones.
Then some “progressives” in the town contacted me. One UNG professor said that she was shocked to see my photo on the screen of a student’s Smart Phone in a classroom . . . with a big red X mark on it. So much for my delusions of a TV appearance jump-starting my romantic life and finances.
Let it suffice to say, that there is no reason for me to hide anything I have done in my entire life. This all fascist idiocy. By the way, the last time I ever had any contact with a college coed was when I was 23 and in graduate school. She was a fraternity brother’s sister, 21 years old and a senior at Bloomsburg State University in Pennsylvania. LOL Later on, I will tell you about the political corruption that explains the strange black out of America Unearth’s premier. Let’s move on to the Mayas In Georgia Thang.
Timeline of the Mayas In Jawja Thang
While Anglo-Americans in the northern states typically credited ancient earthworks to the “Lost Tribes of Israel” this was never the situation in the Southeast. From the beginning, Southerners credited the mounds to ancient immigrants from Mexico and the stone ruins to Prince Madoc of Wales.
Most of the migration legends of the branches the Creek Confederacy begin in Mexico or at least “somewhere” south of the Gulf of Mexico. These legends have been in printed form at least since the 1730s.
The very detailed description of the migration of the Soque from Tabasco to Northeast Georgia to southern Florida was printed in a Palm Beach, FL newspaper in 1917. The Soque were the progenitors of the “Olmec” Civilization. The Olmecs had nothing to do with it.
Mikko Tamachichi told his good friend, James Edward Oglethorpe (founder of Savannah) that his ancestors came across the Great Water from Mexico then first settled near a large lake in southern Florida then migrated northward to a marshy area then established a major town, where Downtown Savannah is today.
In 1735, Oglethorpe wrote a letter to King George II of Great Britain, stating, “It is obvious that the Creeks are the descendants of a great civilization. Their intelligence is equal to or exceeds that of Englishmen. Unlike the tribes to the north, we should treat the Creeks as equals in all matters.”
Pioneer 19th century archaeologists in Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia stated in publications that they believed that an advanced people from Mexico had built their mounds, but had been conquered by the savages that now occupied the region. However, Charles C. Jones, Jr. – the most sophisticated of the bunch – believed that the Creeks were descended from these Mexican mound-builders. They were.
The first anthropology and archaeology programs in the United States were located in Ivy League universities. Their professors saw no evidence of Mesoamerican influence in New England and therefore established a myth that there was none elsewhere in the United States. Harvard, Yale and University of Pennsylvania anthropology graduates dominated the profession throughout much of the 20th century.
From the 1940s until the present, the discussion of direct links between Mexico and what is now the United States was a taboo subject. Yet, no anthropologist could come up with an explanation of how Mexican corn, squash, bean and tobacco seeds jumped across the Gulf of Mexico. Mexican jumping beans can’t jump that far!
During the 1930s, Dr. Arthur Kelly, a graduate of Harvard, supervised the largest archaeological dig ever in the United States at what is now Ocmulgee National Historic Park in Macon, GA. At the time, Kelly, who was from Texas, believed that Ocmulgee was founded by Caddo Indians from Texas. However, later he was to change his mind. Kelly’s laborers unearthed several hundred Maya-style ceramic brine-drying platters. They were 2-3 feet in diameter. These Maya style artifacts have never been displayed to the public.
In the winter of 1969, while I was interviewing with Dr. Kelly at Georgia State University for a job involving the drawing of an ink-line site plan of Village Site 9FU14 on the Chattahoochee River, he showed me several ceramic artifacts, plus photos of others, which he felt were either made in Mexico or were copies of ceramics made in Mexico. I was more interested in gawking at the 8,000 Georgia State University coeds. At the time, there were only 128 female students at Georgia Tech.
Later that year, John S. Pennington, a Creek feature columnist with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote an article about Kelly’s discovery of Mesoamerican artifacts on the Chattahoochee River. Immediately, his peers in archaeology began plotting to get him fired from the University of Georgia.
Dr. Kelly would later play a major role in me being awarded a fellowship to study Mesomerican architecture in Mexico. Both he and Georgia Tech professor Ike Saporta, wanted me to go after a PhD in Anthropology after I finished architecture at Georgia Tech. Saporta was both my faculty advisor and President of the Atlanta Archaeological Society.
My fellowship coordinator in Mexico was the internationally famous archaeologist Román Piña Chan, Director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. While thumbing through two books I had given him on the Southeastern Indians, Piña Chan came upon the photos of the famous Etowah Marble Statues. He asked me why the Georgia Indians would make marble statues of Maya slaves. I couldn’t answer him and really did not realize the significance of that question until the 21st century. Nevertheless, Mexican archaeologists taught me that the Southeastern Ceremonial Mound Culture was founded by immigrants from Mexico. This would have been a major heresy in Gringo Universities.
In the late 1980s, powerful political interests in Georgia began attempts to develop a North Carolina Cherokee gambling casino in the Georgia Mountains. Primary locations included Young Harris-Track Rock Gap area, the home town of Georgia State Senator then Governor then US Senator Zell Miller. . . somewhere near Helen, GA and somewhere near Etowah Mounds in Cartersville, GA. All of the archaeologists, who names were associated with the Maya Myth-busting in the Mountains Campaign in 2012, were earlier associated as paid consultants at one time or another with one or more of these efforts.
Construction of a casino by a tribe in a state, where they have no reservation, is forbidden under federal law. It is highly unlikely that a Cherokee reservation and casino in Georgia would receive federal approval without some extreme dirty politics. Nevertheless, Georgia bureaucrats were forced into re-writing the state’s history to make it seem that the Cherokees had always lived in Georgia and had occupied lands reaching down to Savannah and Macon. Actually, they played virtually no role in its colonial history and the Cherokee Nation was only officially based in Georgia from 1794 to 1838.
During this period the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians began making large donations to Georgia politicians and Chambers of Commerce. Tourism officials in the mountain counties were given many “perks” at the Cherokee Casino in North Carolina. The Eastern Band of Cherokees eventually bought a large track of land on the south side of Yonah Mountain in White County, GA, with the intent of building a casino there, once the political environment became friendly to gambling.
I knew very little about my own Creek heritage and really gave no thought to the “Mexican connection” for many decades . . . until I was working on a research project for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in 2006 and discovered that there were many, many words in the Creek languages, which were either Itza Maya or Totonac in origin.
Of all the hundreds of thousands of people, who had studied anthropology, linguistics and Native American Studies in the United States, not one had ever thought of comparing words in Creek, Itza Maya and Totonac dictionaries! I was the first . . . and that was initially because I noticed that the houses at Etowah Mounds were identical to those in the suburbs of Chichen Itza.
Beginning in 2006, several people and I began studying the Creek, Itza, Zoque and Totonac languages to look for connections. However, I expected the architectural proof of that connection to be found in southwest Georgia on the Chattahoochee River or perhaps somewhere in Florida.
Around 2008, the FBI began an investigation of massive corruption in the Gainesville, GA office of the US Forest Service. Someone had been packing the Chattahoochee National Forest offices with people, who grew up in counties near the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina. When branch offices in Georgia were closed, local folks were the first to be laid off.
During the Bush Administration, the USFS office in Gainesville, terminated contracts with local farmers, who had maintained the National Forest roads for decades. Instead a general contractor in Charlotte, NC, who was a major contributor to Republican campaigns, was awarded maintenance of the entire Chattahoochee National Forest at a much higher cost than hiring locals. The USFS roads immediately began to deteriorate.
The most serious charge however, was a gross violation of the Hatch Act. The Gainesville USFS office required anyone doing business with their agency to make political contributions to certain right-wing, but not all Republican candidates. Apparently, Democrats did not even know about the scam until it was publicized in the media. The office director was fired and the staff was put on probation, going through a long period without even having a director.
While living in a tent or a chicken house during 2010 and 2011, former National Park Service Director, Roger Kennedy, was sending me checks to subsidize my search for the actual routes taken by Hernando de Soto and Juan Pardo, plus locations of Sephardic Jewish villages. I initially stumbled upon the lowest tier of stone ruins at Track Rock Gap on June 21, 2011. I thought they were the Sephardic Jewish village I was looking for. However, on Thanksgiving Day I hiked the whole half square mile of the ruins and realized that they were identical to Itza terrace complexes in the highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala.
On December 21, 2011 I published an article on the Track Rock Terrace Complex in my Architecture Column in the Examiner. I expected to have maybe 1200 readers and hoped that some archaeologists would read it and want to do excavations there. However, by Christmas Eve the article had been republished by newspapers all over the world, including Mongolia, Fiji and Luxemburg. Primary readership went over three million views. International, secondary readership was certainly in the range of 20-50 million – maybe more. The President of the Examiner called me up on Christmas Eve to congratulate me.
I thought that was the end of it, but in the next few weeks I was interviewed by reporters from all the major US networks, several British and Canadian newspapers, the BBC and CBC, plus TV networks in Germany, Mexico, France, Italy, Spain and Sweden. The Swedish reporter was stunned when I answered her first question in Swedish. LOL
Several weeks later, the Bill Torpy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution briefly interviewed me without asking me for any of my qualifications or the fact that I carried Maya DNA! After then he interviewed a South African archaeologist, who had never been in Mexico, two Georgia archaeologists, who had never seen the site and a retired electrical engineer from Florida. The resulting article was a slam-dunk affair in which never discussed my qualifications, and represented the opinion of the Florida retiree as more important that my opinion.
Things just got worse from there. On March 1, 2012 a two man crew from the Travel Channel filmed me at the archaeological zone for over two hours, but that was congealed into a 15 minute segment on a program on haunted places in America the following month. That same day, the USFS kicked off its speakers program whereby archaeologists were paid to spew a legion of professional slander against me personally at various mundane civic club meetings around Atlanta. They had no counter-argument, because they didn’t have a clue about Creek cultural history, the Creek language or the Itza Mayas. Thus, their only strategy could be discrediting the messenger. The AJC had not covered civic club meetings since the 1950s, but put in every little juicy detail of the personal attacks, made by the archaeologists at such key organizations as the Peachtree Hills Garden Club, the Druid Hills Country Club and the Dunwoody Garden Club.
I went to a legal firm in Downtown Atlanta to begin professional libel suits against the archaeologists, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, two sheriff’s departments and US Forest Service. The attorneys advised me that I would not have a snowball’s chance in hell, if took a case to a state court in North Georgia, because the judges were all Republicans. Even though I was not a member of any political party, the crimes and libel committed against me were clearly, politically motivated by the powers-that-be.
I could theoretically win millions in federal court, but I would have to wait until a clear case of federal jurisdiction appeared. In the meantime, they urged me to not say anything derogatory about these archaeologists, so they would have no counter-defense in federal court. They told me just to print in my Examiner articles what the Atlanta Journal-Constitution printed as quotes made by archaeologists, USFS officials and Cherokee officials. That I did.
All three levels of law enforcement got involved . . . in an effort to find some law I had violated. Federal law enforcement called people that I talked to on the phone or even in person, to tell them that I was crazy and that the Mayas didn’t come to Georgia. Yes, really! Local thugs vandalized my car and poisoned my dogs. It was not a good time. However, I did have one bit of amusement.
By June 2012, I was on the email list of the Maya Myth-busting group. Don’t quite know how, but they were using an old email screen ID that I used while president of the Georgia Chapter of the Trail of Tears Association. So, I knew everywhere they were speaking and what their strategies were. After we filmed my part of the program, it was clear that most of the premier would focus on Ocmulgee National Monument and the time that the film crew was in Mexico. I made the Maya Myth-busters think that most of the program was on Track Rock Gap.
I was expecting the History Channel to send a couple of people to interview me like the Travel Channel did. Nevertheless, I was horrified that anyone would see where I just moved, even though now I was technically not homeless. It was an old beaten up cabin. I was being given free rent for five months in order to repair it. However, when I saw eight vehicles pull into my driveway, my heart skipped a bit. Just before we started filming, I told Scott Wolter, “Scott, this is just like we are in a movie.” Scott answered, “Richard, we ARE in a movie.” That is the reason that I stuttered a bit at the beginning of the program. I was TERRIFIED. LOL
During the latter half of 2012, I received at least a dozen hate emails a day. Most were saturated with profanity, told me to take my meds, told me that all libruls should be killed or pretended to be written by professors, while making high school level grammatical mistakes. Below is an email sent to me two days ago, which seems to be a copy of one sent to me in the fall of 2012. This one by “Charlesincharge” two days ago, is actually was one of the “milder” emails that I have received. By the way, I was the Architect of Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial and am descended from three Creek mikkos, who signed treaties with the Kind of Great Britain. Also, like all Uchee descendants I carry Sami and Finnish DNA from Scandinavia.
Charlesincharge: There is absolutely no academic reliable study that would indicate southeastern peoples are descendants of Mayans. That’s totally bogus and not to mention its wrong to reinvent other people’s history. I saw on another video of this group which claims Creeks are also descendants of people from Scandinavia. This is so disappointing, and as a Lumbee person with many Creek friends, I have to ask you to stop doing this.
In the week of the premier of America Unearthed, the US Forest Service sponsored a fake conference at the University of Georgia’s Department of Anthropology. Several students, who despised their fossilized professors, kept me completely informed with the goings-on. The USFS paid for representatives from the three Cherokee tribes in the nation, plus a representative the Muskogee-Creek Nation to attend a series of banquets and meetings. The man, representing the Creek Nation, was fired not too long after returning to Oklahoma. He made some public statements that made Creek elected officials broil. After all, I was a paid architectural history consultant for the MCN National Council and Second Chief Alfred Berryhill for over five years. This guy, who was pretending to represent the views of Creek officials, was not even a citizen of the Muscogee-Creek Nation!
Every detail of the fake conference was reported in the AJC, but no information was provided readers about the forthcoming premier. The out-of-state tribal representatives were supposed to climb up to the ruins, but neither they nor their USFS handlers were in sufficient physical condition to do so. Georgia Creeks regularly make the 600 feet climb to study and honor the place where their ancestors lived. The week ended with a document, signed by the tribal representatives, stating that the Muskogee-Creeks and the Cherokees jointly constructed Track Rock Gap. The Muskogee Creeks never lived in the Georgia Mountains, but my branch of the Creeks did! Of course, the Cherokees were living in Canada as late as 1650 AD. The ruins are over 1000 years old.
The evidence produced by the premier was so overwhelming that the Maya Myth-busting Campaign almost instantly disappeared. All efforts since then have been to pretend that the events of 2012 never occurred.
Most Georgians didn’t even know about this program until the Winter or Spring of 2019. The Travel Channel purchased the broadcast rights to America Unearthed then kicked off the series with rebroadcasts of the best shows, broadcast by History Channel H2. People come up to me in the supermarket or Walmart, thinking that they have just watched a program, filmed recently.
At the beginning of the TV program below, Scott Wolter is supposedly walking and driving in the Chattahoochee National Forest All the scenes within his car were actually filmed about eight feet from the front door of my cabin. Pay close attention to that “bo-ing” sound in the background. That was recorded from my garden! It is the sound of a 16 inch long black skink, which is indigenous to the region of Mesoamerica, where the Mayas lived. You want see them in a book on Georgia’s wildlife, but they are here. They only live in the section of the state, where we are finding the agricultural terrace complexes. I presume they came along as pets.
Including Youtube views and international rebroadcasts, the premier of America Unearthed is now the most watched program on the History Channel H2. I did not get a penny from being on the program. I was paid an honorarium in 2013 for being on a 30 minute PBS program and in 2014 was paid handsomely for being on a Spanish-language documentary, which was very popular in Latin America. They said that they had no problem understanding my non-fluent Spanish. Well, fiddle-dee-dee . . . After all, tomorrow is another day.