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Astonishing resemblance between Raccoon Clan and Sjø Sami (Sea Lapps)

Astonishing resemblance between Raccoon Clan and Sjø Sami (Sea Lapps)


From their first contacts with the colonists in Savannah (1733) the Uchee People have consistently stated that their ancestors came across the Atlantic Ocean from the “Home of the Sun” and first settled near the mouth of the Savannah River.  They stated that the land was uninhabited at the time, but they could see the shell rings and mounds, built by people, who had lived there earlier.  Algonquian peoples lived much farther north.  From their original settlements, the Uchee spread inland and eventually had villages throughout much of the Lower Southeast. This would place the timing of their arrival in the Southeast some time after 1800 BC and before 1100 BC, which marks the appearance of the Deptford Culture in Savannah . . . which did indeed spread over much of the Lower Southeast.

Uchee was originally pronounced the same as the Pre-Indo-European word for water in Northwest Europe . . . uisce.

The Creeks more commonly called the Uchee,  Okvte, which means “Water People.”

Because they don’t look like “Hollywood Injuns”  Uchee and Creek Raccoon Clan descendants from the Savannah, Broad (GA), Salkehatchie (SC), Saluda (SC), Combahee (SC) and Edisto (SC) River Basins may be grossly underestimating their percentage of indigenous ancestry.  Recent DNA testing suggests that much of their indigenous ancestry may be from aboriginal Northern Europeans, who were pushed out of their homelands by migrating Germanic and Proto-Finnish Peoples.  

POOF has recently obtained mid-19th century photos of some “full blood” Raccoon Clan members, who look astonishingly like the Sjø Sami (Maritime Lapps) on the northern coast of Scandinavia and formerly on the northwestern coast Scotland and the southeastern coast of Ireland.  In all of these European locations,  archaeologists have recently found ancient flint blades, knapped in a style that was previously thought exclusive to the Atlantic Coast of North America.

Mikko Sapulpa (1824-1887) was a full-blood member of the Uchee-Creek Raccoon Clan. He was born in western Georgia, just as the Creeks were being pressured to cede their lands to Georgia.  Much of his childhood was in Osochee Town, Alabama.  He somehow survived the Trail of Tears to reach manhood in the Indian Territory. About 1850, he established a trading post near the confluence of Polecat and Rock creeks (about one mile southeast of present-day downtown Sapulpa). When the  Atlantic and Pacific Railroad built a spur to this area in 1886, it was known as Sapulpa Station. The Sapulpa post office was chartered July 1, 1889. The town was incorporated March 31, 1898. 

Near the beginning of the Civil War, Sapulpa was elected at age 37 to be a lieutenant in the Creek Mounted Rifles (CSA).   He was noted for his bravery in battle and refusal to take part in the brutal attacks on pro-Union Creek civilians, most of whom were Upper Creeks.  After the Civil War, he quickly rose to prominence to be a mikko of the Raccoon Clan Creeks and Uchee families in his area. 

Sapulpa, Oklahoma  is today the headquarters of the Euchee Tribe of Oklahoma, which is composed of Euchee People, who are also on the rolls of the Muscogee-Creek Nation.  Missionaries told the Oklahoma Uchee that they should spell their name Euchee.  That is why their tribal name differs from what they were called in Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.  Euchee, Uchee and Yuchi are the same people.

Etymological and Ethnological backgrounds

A modern Sjo-Sami woman has the same shape nose as Sapulpa.

(1) Sjø Sami (Norwegian) – Sea Sami . . . They compose a Sami tribe, living on the islands of the extreme northern coast of Norway in Nordland, Troms and Finnmark Provinces.  Also known in English as the Maritime Lapps,  they have been skilled mariners for eons.  They would venture long distances into the North Sea or beyond to catch fish and harpoon whales and walruses.  They have distinctly different facial features than other Sami Tribes.

Many Scandinavian anthropologists theorize that they were originally a different ethnic group than the other Sami and perhaps are descended from the true indigenous people of Scandinavia. More recently, the Sjø Sami and Mountain Sami may have been the same ethnic group at one time, who inter-married some with Sami living to the east, who genetically have much more in common with the Finns.  

The Norwegian Sami definitely look different that the Sami in Finnland and Russia, even though they speak similar languages.  Southern Sami in the highlands of Norway and near the Arctic Circle in Sweden tend to look more like Scandinavians.  Many have blond hair.  The  Sami around Kiruna, Sweden, the capital of Lappland tend to look more like people in northern Finland and the northwestern edge Russia.

Large, snow covered mountain ranges separate the Sjø and Mountain Sami  from other Sami tribes.  This isolation probably explains their very different physical appearance.  Unfortunately,  there has been few anthropological studies and no genetic studies of this unique people.  Only one article (in Bokmol Norska) can be found on the internet concerning their ancient history.  The use of teepees was mainly seen among the Sjø,  Berg and Nordland Sami of northern Norway and Sami living near Kiruna, Lappland, Sweden.

This is at a museum in Ireland, not the Southeastern USA.

One article in a Norwegian anthropology magazine did made two interesting statements.  The pottery of the Proto-Sami people was very crude until around 1200 BC,  when they absorbed the Cord-marked Beaker Culture ceramics from the British Isles.  The author didn’t say this, but during a several hundred years period that followed, Proto-Sami ceramics were very similar to the contemporary Deptford Style ceramics in the Lower Southeast, which first appeared in the Savannah Area a little before 1000 BC.

A second interesting statement was that Norwegian anthropologists current believe that the Mountain and Sea Sami only hunted reindeer until the Late Medieval Period. They think that herding of reindeer first was practiced in what is now Russia and Finland then worked its way westward.

A genetic study in Ireland has determined that the Irish Red Deer (elk) is not descended from the Red Deer in Britain, but rather is descended from Red Deer in Scandinavia, where the Sami live today.  This suggests that trade between the British Isles and Scandinavia goes back to the Neolithic Period. 

Their island homelands are so remote and surrounded by dangerous seas that academicians are not particularly enthused about studying them further.   This is probably the reason that they were apparently left alone by the Vikings.  Nevertheless,  they were pushed off their islands by Early Medieval Norwegians when a massive trade of salted fish began with Mainland Europe.  The Sjø Sami reoccupied their homeland in the 1300s, when Bubonic Plague wiped out between 75% to 90% of the Scandinavian population of northern Norway.

In her innocent, Pre-ABBA days,  Swedish singer Agnetha Fältskog, strongly resembled the Southern Sami.   Her physical features were quite different than the other members of ABBA.  Note the similarity of her eyes to Sapulpa and the Sjø Sami man above.  She was fond of wearing brightly colored dresses, inspired by traditional “Native American” and Sami clothing.  She probably is part Sami.   Indeed . . . her birthplace, Jönköping, Småland, Sweden, began as a trading post, where ethnic Swedes would trade with Southern Sami.   Until the late 1800s,  Southern Sami during the warm months lived in beehive shaped huts that were identical to the houses built by the Deptford Culture in Georgia, the Adena Culture in Ohio and the Caddo People in western Louisiana.


(2) Raccoon Clan – (Apalache-Creek = Sawakora) (Itsate Creek = Sawate or Saute) (Muskogee-Creek = Sawakli or Sawaki). Sawa means Raccoon in Itsate (Hitchiti) and  Koasati.  Te or ti is an Itza Maya suffix, which means “people or clan.”  Kora or kola are Highland Apalache-Creek* suffixes, which mean “people or clan.”  Ki, ke or kli are Muskogee-Creek suffixes, which mean “people or clan.”

*The Florida Apalache did not call themselves Apalache, until they were conquered by the Spanish and told that was their name.  The true Apalache were on the Lower Savannah River,  Northeast Georgia and Middle Chattahoochee River.  Apalache or Palache is what the Middle Creeks called themselves until the British told them that their name was Creek Indians.

(3) Salkehatchie River (South Carolina) – This river was labeled the “Salcatcher” on colonial maps.  Its name is probably the Anglicization of Sawakli-haci . . .  Eastern Muskogee Creek for “Raccoon People – Water.”  The Western and Oklahoma Muskogee-Creek word for raccoon is watko.

(4) Sawakeehatchee River (Georgia) – This is the Early Colonial Period name for the Broad River, which begins in the Blue Ridge Foothills of Northeast Georgia and joins the Savannah River near Elberton, GA.  The river’s old name is the Anglicization of the Eastern Muskogee-Creek word, meaning “Raccoon People – Water.”

(5) Sautee (Georgia) –  This village’s name is the Anglicization of the Itsate Creek word,  Sawate, which means “Raccoon People.”

More on the Raccoon Clan

The Raccoon Clan originated near the South Atlantic Coast in the region between the Savannah River and the Pon Pon River.  Apparently, they were an assimilation of Uchee with Panoan and Maya immigrants.  Throughout the Mississippian Period, they were a distinct ethnic group, living in several provinces on either side of the Savannah River.  Only after the Great Native American holocaust did their numbers decrease to the point that they were just considered a clan within a Proto-Creek confederation.  The Raccoon Clan were considered Uchees in the Low Country, but “Creeks” in the Piedmont, Georgia Mountains and Oklahoma.

Apparently, in a rather early time period, the Raccoon People began concentrating their villages along the Broad River in Northeast Georgia, since originally the river was named after them.  There were several towns with multiple mounds near the confluence of the Broad with Savannah River.  The largest of these was labeled “Rembert Mounds” by early white settlers.  Downstream about five miles were the Elbert Mounds.  Rembert Mounds included a Great Spiral Mound similar to the Great Spiral Mound at the Lamar Village at Ocmulgee National Monument.  What little remains of Rembert Mounds is now under Lake Richard B. Russell.  Almost nothing remains of Elbert Mounds, which were about a mile downstream from the Russell Dam.

At some time during the Early Colonial Period,  many Raccoon Clan villages moved from the Savannah River Basin to what is now western Georgia.   Their name appears on maps of the region until after the American Revolution.  After the Revolution,  the Raccoon villages dispersed to regions of Alabama and southwestern Georgia. 

During each of the three Seminole Wars in Florida,  wealthy planters in Georgia instigated pogroms against Creek and Uchee families, who were legal citizens of the state.  Most of the Creeks were in Itsate (Hitchiti) branches of the old Creek Confederacy, while by the late 1700s, the confederacy was dominated by Muskogee and Upper Creek towns.  Apparently,  since most of the Seminoles were originally Hitchiti speakers from Georgia,  the planters used that as an excuse to obtain court judgments, which seized all the property of these helpless families without compensation and marched them to the Alabama line like common criminal.

Meanwhile, the wealthy white planters would buy the real estate and livestock at auctions of the Native American families on the courthouse steps for a tiny fraction of their value.  It was a similar scam to the one practiced throughout much of the Southeast during the recent Great Recession in which real estate speculators and rental house landlords picked up literally millions of houses at bargain prices at courthouse auctions.

The most notorious of these pogroms occurred in the Broad River Valley during the Third Seminole War (1855).  All the battles were at least 500 miles away, but several Creek and Uchee families, who were not protected by white relatives or else were not members of the Southern Methodist Episcopal Church were marched to the Alabama Line.  For a year, they worked as serfs on cotton plantations in Barbour County, Alabama then someone paid for their transportation to the Indian Territory.   Interestingly enough,  most of these families settled around where Mikko Sapulpa lived.  That area is now the City of Sapulpa.

The truth is out there somewhere.

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Love this post Richard. I recognized the Beaker pottery straight away. So much interesting info Thanks.


    whew…, you really get to the point, all the way. what little I am aware of does connect to Savannah and Sapulpa, and my dna also supports your information. in the southeast U.S. , the Euchee were known for their deer hunting abilities. they said a Euchee man would get on the track of a deer and run all day or until the deer was exhausted to catch it. looks like his ancestors handled the red deer in the past. I have been a lifelong deer hunting fanatic ,…. nothing better than to scrape a hide and smoke the deer skin. first deer skin I met as a youngster was like a dog meeting an old friend,… now I am learning why. my grandfather was almost a black person and his profile looked like he posed for the “Indian head Nickel” art, but those characteristics did not filter down to myself. thanks for your information sharing.


    about the computer tipi at the top of the page, they would not have been all the way to the ground. somewhere along the bottom edge would have been raised 6 to 10 inches,… this is for air draft ventilation draw for the fire in the center floor. you can see in the last photo on page where the bottom edge is pulled up in places,… for draft. .. even though the people are obvious dressed for colder weather. just something to know. hope it is not being too picky…..

    • That’s a photograph taken in Norway. LOL Notice the stones piled at the base of the canvas. These are Sami teepees. I was in Lappland, the northern tip of Norway and near the border with Russia in August. There was sleet and snow flurries by mid-August!


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