Tribal historian dies

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A mentor.

An educator.

Those are just a couple of the many words family members used to describe Poarch Creek Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Robert Thrower, who passed away in a tragic car accident on July 4, 2017.

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“I was very fortunate to have a him as a brother,” Thrower’s sister, Lori Sawyer said. “He was very passionate and caring, and he was minister. He was the person that was called when people were dying. He was our Atticus Finch.”

Thrower will be remembered not only for his passion for the Poarch Creek Indians, but for his creativity and the continuation of his mother’s work. His mom, Gail Thrower, was PCI’s first Tribal historian.

“He really picked up the baton from my mother’s work,” Sawyer said. “Both he and she were gifted public speakers.”

He was respected throughout the Indian Country for his historic knowledge of PCI. He also served on the United South and Eastern Tribes Culture and Heritage Committee.

Thrower began working for PCI officially as its historian since July 1991.

“He was a mentor to a lot of people,” Thrower’s daughter, Sehoy, said. “He was such an educator and teacher. That was his biggest role in his life. A lot of people are going to be missing that. He also carried on a lot of tradition and was a good historian.

“He will definitely be missed for his spiritual guidance and sense of humor,” she said.

One of Thrower’s passions included bringing Indian history to life.

Sawyer said he played Red Eagle, a medicine man, in a recent production.

“One of the ways that he taught was through interpretive history,” she said. “He would study the history of a particular character, and dress as them and act as them to help you understand complex emotions of what life was like at time.

“It really rang true to us because these people who they were interpreting were our ancestors,” she said. “He and I are both direct descendants of Red Eagles’ sister. He was our uncle.”

Sawyer added that Thrower did a good job of helping others understand not only the world of the Indians’ past, but of their world today.

While Thrower taught a class on southeastern Native cosmetology at the University of South Alabama, getting the opportunity to teach Poarch youth about the Indians’ history was the most rewarding thing he had done.

“My dad told me not long ago that was most rewarding of all his work,” Sehoy said.

Sehoy said she’ll always remember her father through his creativity.

“He was one of the most insanely creative people I knew,” she said. “He was constantly coming up with all kinds of projects. He’d made collages of National Geographic magazines. He was a super, hyper creative person. That’ll be some thing people will remember him by.”