Part 21 of The Americas Connected
by Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
You will not see them mentioned in most anthropology books and certainly not Wikipedia, but the genetic, linguistic and architectural evidence of migrations of indigenous peoples from South America and the Caribbean Basin is overwhelming. For starters . . . most of the cultural traditions that Muskogee-Creeks in Oklahoma think are home-grown, actually originated in eastern Peru. We are talking about traditions such as Swift Creek pottery, the Stomp Dance and Yaupon Tea (Sacred Black Drink). In fact, the Muskogee word for this beverage and the holly, which produces it . . . ase’ . . . is the same word used by the indigenous peoples of eastern Peru. Latin Americans call it mate’.
Oh . . . did we mention that the only place in the world, outside the Southeastern United States, where Yaupon Holly grows, is in the vicinity of the Maya city of Palenque? That’s where in 2012 University of Minnesota scientists found minerals mined in the State of Georgia to be a major component of its Maya Blue stucco and murals. For the remainder of the summer, The Americas Revealed will focus on topics related to the indigenous immigrants from the south, who helped create North America’s cultural heritage.
Life is indeed, stranger than fiction . . . Parte Deux
Of course, it was never a theory. Several rivers in Georgia have Itza Maya names, the Creek languages contain many Maya words . . . and like most Eastern Creeks, I personally carry Maya DNA, but there was something else. I vaguely remembered Alfonso Morales’ name. For a decade, I thought perhaps that he was one of the graduate student interns, who attended my slide shows of where I had last been exploring a section of Mexico . . . in Dr. Román Piña Chan’s office in the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. Certainly, Dr. Román Piña Chan would have said the same thing, if Scott Wolters interviewed him before he died in 2001.
Nope! This past year I was reading an article about the history of archaeological work in Palenque, when I discovered that my guide there, Moises Morales, was the father of the famous archaeologist Alfonso Morales.
In our group was David and Linda Schele from Mobile, AL. We eventually broke off from the casual tourists to photograph and measure special buildings. In the courtyard of the Palace at Palenque, we chatted awhile with George Stuart, who introduced himself merely as an archaeologist from South Carolina. He didn’t mention that he was the photographer of some of the most famous images of Maya Civilization, that were published by National Geographic in the 1960s and 1970s. George eventually became Senior Editor of National Geographic Magazine.
George and I became friends 14 years later, when he came to our North Carolina farm to take pictures for a National Geo book on the Appalachian Mountains. He eventually encouraged me to relocate to the Shenandoah Valley. Once we moved there, George’s wife, Gene, did much to both promote our goat cheese to Washington society and to introduce me to friends, who needed architects.
Their son, David, also became an archaeologist. Meanwhile, Linda Schele was inspired by her visit to Palenque and contacts with George Stuart to go back to college to study anthropology. David Stuart and Linda Schele teamed up in the late 1980s and accomplished the impossible. They cracked the Maya code . . . the Maya writing system.
The article about Moises Morales then mentioned that Alfonso grew up serving meals to the students and archaeologists at the Palenque Inn . . . where his Canadian mother cooked us gourmet meals. I had fond memories of his mother’s cooking, but only vaguely remember her son serving us and re-filling our glasses of ice tea. Who would have thought that that boy would grow up to be on a History Channel show about “the Mayas in Georgia? . . . and that the scientific proof of a Maya-Georgia connection would be found in Palenque?”
There is one more strange coincidence. Almost exactly 30 years ago, Vivi . . . my French soulmate . . . arrived at my Virginia farm to spend six weeks there. It was the happiest six weeks in my life as Vivi, her daughter, Aimee, and I pretended that we were already a family. Soon after arriving at the farmhouse, Vivi discovered my Mesoamerican artifact collection in the living room. She mentioned that after graduating from the Sorbonne in 1982 with a degree in Ancient European History, she had spent several months in Mexico . . . visiting relatives of her Tamulte Maya grandmother . . . and thoroughly exploring the ancient ruins in Mexico.
While staying at the Palenque Inn, Vivi had a crush on the owners’ son, who was on summer vacation, from the University of Texas. She fantasized about being the wife of this archaeology student and perhaps going back to college to study archaeology herself. Only a telegram from France, telling her that a Spanish song that she had recorded at age 18, was now an international hit, kept her from at least having a fling with this young man. That anthropology student of her fantasies was none other than Alfonso Morales!
Adversity drives evolution and personal growth
On the evening of June 18th, 2022 , an geneticist from Georgia, now living in Colorado, called to check on me. The real purpose of the call was to urge me to move to Aspen, Colorado. He said that the law enforcement people and neighbors there would treat me as a hero, not an enemy. I also would be immersed in a stimulating, intellectual environment, which would be supportive of my research.
I responded that I couldn’t began to afford any of the houses around Aspen. Heck, I can’t even afford a plane ticket to Denver! However, there was something else. I am in the midst of the nation’s densest concentration of Native American archaeological sites. I am focusing my intellectual energies on those sites. I sense the presence of hundreds or perhaps thousands of my ancestors souls guiding me in the research. What would I do in Aspen? Without intellectual challenges, my brain would soon fossilize. I would have no inspirations for writing these Americas Revealed articles.
Thus, goes on the totally unpredictable Tapestry of Life. In my previous article, I told you about a pretty, but seemingly wacko lawyer and FBI agent, who called herself, Susan Karlson. Ten years later, she would play a key role in stopping the desecration of Etowah Mounds. By then, I suspect that she was working for the CIA or NSA, but will probably never know for sure.
Clear as a bell, I still remember first meeting her at the Wendy’s Restaurant in Front Royal, VA. Her photo that day is on the right. The next day she met me at my farm on Toms Brook in Shenandoah County, VA. She dragged me out into the center of the pasture, anointed both of us with olive oil from Israel and secretly performed in Hebrew a marriage ceremony.
Living nearby in Front Royal that day was Marilyn Rae, whose language skills in 2013 would enable me to translate L’Histoire Naturelle et Morale des isles Antilles de l’Amérique by Charles de Rochefort and co-write The Apalache Chronicles. The information from Charles de Rochefort radically change our understanding of Creek Indian culture prior to European Contact. De Rochefort directly stated that the elite of the Apalache (Creek) Confederacy were a mixture of people from Mexico and Peru.
If Susan Karlson had not disappeared in June 2005, the model of Etowah Mounds, which I was building for the Muskogee Creek-Nation would have been my last project in Georgia. Whether or not, we decided to permanently live together legally as spouses, she was going to help me financially to get out of Georgia and return to the beautiful region west of Washington, DC. Susan wanted to settle down in that part of the country, but wanted also me to be there for our children. I imagine in that case, we would have continued our weird 15-year-long relationship of pretending to be merely friends with benefits.
The situation in Jasper, GA was far worse than here in NE Georgia, because I was anonymous. I had not appeared on any national TV shows nor published any books to the public. I did not have a website, so very few people knew what was going on in Jasper.
Had we decided to get a marriage license while traveling around North America, we planned to buy a historic farmhouse in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Winchester, VA, Harpers Ferry, WV or Fredericksburg, MD. While restoring the house and developing an income-producing farm, we wanted to create more children. To keep her brain fit, Susan planned to do non-hazardous contract work for the DOJ, NSA and CIA.
I would have quickly gone back to the lucrative architecture practice that I had before in Virginia . . . designing houses, restaurants and chic shopping centers for Northern Virginia’s intelligentsia and affluent families. All Native American research, other than in the Shenandoah Valley, would have ceased. In truth, by 2006 I really knew very little about the rich cultural heritage of the Creek, Chickasaw and Uchee peoples, other than the fact that the Creek languages contained many words from Mesoamerica.
Below is a photo is a $2 million house that I designed for one of the most prominent families in Winchester, VA a few months before being trapped in Georgia. The clients could not find me, when wanting me to supervise construction of their house and designing a posh restaurant in Old Towne Winchester.
Thus, we have to play with the cards that have been dealt us. The Americas Revealed is going to look at all the available information on migrations of peoples from South America, the Caribbean Basin and Mesoamerica. You are invited to join us on that journey.