Native American History Destroyed In Georgia’s Track Rock Gap

The U.S. Forest Service has announced that vandals have systematically destroyed important pre-Colombian petroglyphs at historic sites in the southeastern Chattahoochee–Oconee National Forests, including Trap Rock Gap.

Most people in the U.S. are sympathetic with the modern Creek and Cherokee peoples whose ancestors created sacred sites like Trap Rock Gap over 1,000 years ago. However, there are also thousands of Americans that think these sites are Mayan and thus they express their sympathies to the peoples of Mexico.

Ignorant Americans Deface The Treasures Of Track Rock Gap

The vandals are reported to have applied “a variety of methods” in their efforts to destroy a group of ancient petroglyph drawings at Track Rock Gap in Georgia, a Native American sacred site located about 90 miles northeast of Atlanta. Track Rock Gap features over 100 petroglyphs carved on large soapstone boulders.

On Monday, April 05, 2021, the U.S. Forest Service posted on Facebook , reporting that historic sites in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, which covers 867,000 acres across 26 counties, had been attacked by vandals.

A bit of a touch up? Vandals painted on existing stone carvings in Georgia’s Trap Rock Gap. (U.S. Forest Service - Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests)

A bit of a touch up? Vandals painted on existing stone carvings in Georgia’s Trap Rock Gap. ( U.S. Forest Service – Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests )

In most cases, when brainless, or low-IQ imbeciles, attack archaeological sites, they generally kick over something valuable or maybe snap a finger from a museum sculpture on loan from China. However, in this instance, the vandals were so determined to destroy pre-Colombian cultural heritage sites that they deployed “a range of methods.”

According to a report on Macon, the vandals “scratched the petroglyphs beyond recognition” on five boulders. Moreover, they painted over the carvings on two more boulders in garish colors “rendering them irreplaceable,” according to a spokesperson from the U.S. Forest Service speaking with McClatchy News on Tuesday.

Some people have “claimed” that Brasstown Bald, Georgia's highest peak, was an ancient Mayan site. It’s not far from Trap Rock Gap. (Thomson200 / CC0)

Some people have “claimed” that Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest peak, was an ancient Mayan site. It’s not far from Trap Rock Gap. (Thomson200 / CC0)

Some Believe Track Rock Gap is a Mayan Site

It is thought that this sad act of vandalism occurred sometime in 2020, probably during the Covid-19 lockdowns, at which time the police in North America were distracted with severe social unrest.

The North Carolina based Cherokee Tribal Heritage Preservation Office have issued a statement confirming that “The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is sad and frustrated” having learned that their sacred site at Track Rock Gap had been vandalized. Furthermore, the Council has “condemned” the willful destruction and the spokesperson said, “whether through ignorance or malice, the result is irreparable damage to a unique site that connects us directly to the people of the past.”

Returning to the Mayan reference made in the opening paragraph, the name “Track Rock Gap” might ring a bell with you. Back in 2012, in fact, on the evening of December 21, H2 s program America Unearthed, Season 1, Episode 1, explored the idea that the Track Rock Gap site and others in the region were Mayan colonies .

Researching this article, I wondered “Where on Earth did this apparently history challenging idea come from?” Exactly one year prior to the airing of the H2 episode, on December 21, 2011, Georgia architect and researcher Richard Thornton published a non-academic research article suggesting “an archaeological site on Brasstown Bald, Georgia’s highest peak, was an ancient Mayan site .”

Track Rock Gap sketches by James Mooney from 1889. The dashed lines indicate portions of the rock which have been removed by relic hunters. (James Mooney / Public domain)

Track Rock Gap sketches by James Mooney from 1889. The dashed lines indicate portions of the rock which have been removed by relic hunters. (James Mooney / Public domain )

The Mayan Connection Is Wrong But Questions Remain

Big claims require big evidence. Right? Richard Thornton has since published that he was evicted from his home on Christmas Eve 2009 and lived in a tent in the Southern Highlands for an extended period of time.

On his LinkedIn profile Thornton states that “wilderness led to some major archaeological discoveries,” but most importantly, he felt that “proving the Maya came to Georgia, strengthened my faith in God.”

In 2012, the U.S. Forest Service excavated several sites in the Southern Highlands area and published their findings, stating that “NO Mayan artifacts were found in the area.”

Who then built and used Track Rock Gap? In 1867, explorer and naturalist John Muir published, “ A Thousand-Mile Walk To The Gulf .” In this masterpiece of American nature literature Muir said, “It is called Track Gap after the great number of tracks [carvings] in the rocks including: bird tracks, bar tracks, hoss tracks, men tracks, all in the solid rock as if it had been mud.”

The same 2012 archaeological research that confirmed “no evidence of Mayan occupation,” also determined that the site was built by Creek and Cherokee people over 1,000 years ago.

More graffiti left by vandals in Georgia’s Trap Rock Gap. (U.S. Forest Service - Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests)

More graffiti left by vandals in Georgia’s Trap Rock Gap. ( U.S. Forest Service – Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests )

Creek and Cherokee Tribes Also Debunk Mayan Myth

If you have any doubts as to the Native American origins of Track Rock Gap site and to Native American heritage that have been destroyed, this video shows the Muscogee Creek Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, in their own words, “debunking the Mayan myth,” and explaining clearly what the site and petroglyphs mean to their peoples, and why, horribly ironically, “it’s so important to protect it.”

But folks, this is a direct, and determined, attack on Native American heritage “not” on pre-Colombian Mexican heritage , as the internet might have you believe.

Top image: A completely painted over area on an ancient petroglyph stone in Georgia’s Trap Rock Gap: the work of stupid vandals with nothing better to do.             Source: U.S. Forest Service – Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests

By Ashley Cowie

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