The Sami – Alps – Southeastern USA Connection
A new DNA study shows that some Sami tribes migrated into several parts Europe and possibly Canada.
Your Sami and/or Scandinavian DNA could have originated in a part of Europe other than Scandinavia.
Well . . . another life long mystery from my time in Sweden has been solved today. What got me on this journey was seeing petroglyphs identical to several Uchee and Creek sacred symbols, in southern Sweden. This mystery occurred in Lapland. It was mid-August and already autumn there. Some sleet and snow flurries fell almost every day I was there. Joana, a lovely black-haired, tan-skinned biologist from Salzburg, Austria came up to me at the Svenska Turistföreningen (STF) Vandrahem (Young Adult Tourist Hostel) in Kiruna, Lappland and asked if I would like to be her traveling companion in Lappland.
She had driven her yellow Volkswagen Bug all the way from Salzburg to Kiruna, but after arriving in the region, realized that it would not be safe to travel alone in the boonies . . . which were generally unpopulated. She noticed that I had been going up and down the mountains around Kiruna to take photos and so would probably make a pretty good body guard. I told her, “Sure, why not. I have never been on a long date with an Austrian biologist before.” But that is not the main mystery of this article . . . er-r-r why a pretty Austrian chick would pick me up at a hostel in the Arctic. Maybe she had poor eyesight or poor judgment?
Back then there were very few paved roads, hotels or gasoline stations in all of Lapland. Some Sami farmers traded jerry cans, full of gasoline, for the empty ones carried by those few travelers that were bold enough to go out into the nearly uninhabited countryside. As soon as we were traveling together, EVERYBODY thought that we were a cute young Sami couple. Both Swedes and Sami would ask us for directions, since we had the black hair and tan skin of the Sami tribes in the northern tip of Scandinavia. Tourists from English-speaking countries would ask me if I spoke English. I would speak back to them English with a Swedish accent . . . usually never admitting that I was Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech, rambling about Lapland, with a heretofore stranger. Many asked Joana and I if we herded reindeer, when we were growing up.
Now my features can be easily explained, but Joana’s made no sense. She looked more like a typical Lapp than I did and even had a Lapp nose. It is similar to a Welsh nose. She said that when the Germans took over Austria, her family was thoroughly investigated by the Gestapo, who assumed that they were Jewish. Her family had been living in the mountains near Salzburg as along as records had been kept. They were always listed as Christians, so the Gestapo never arrested them. Until this past weekend, I always wondered why a gal from the Austrian Alps looked like a tan-skinned Metis from northern Quebec. We’ll get back to that question.
The same architecture on both sides of the Atlantic
As soon as we were away from the “Scandianavian Moderne” architecture of Kiruna, I was first astonished by the broad expanse of grasslands, tundra, marshes and rivers. The only trees were those birches and firs, planted near farmsteads. Most farmsteads now had compact, modern houses, but were surrounded by ancient log and sod structures that seemed to belong to the North America of 200 years ago. As can be seen above and below, many of the structures were identical to the earth lodges and tipi’s built by the Siouan Peoples of eastern North America. I didn’t know this then, but virtually all the migration legends of the Siouan tribes have them originating in the Southeastern United States, on or near either the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico. I now suspect that there is a reason why the Southern Siouans strongly resemble the “pure” Sami, living in the most remote parts of Lapland. Indeed, in the remote mountain valleys in the mountains, east of Narvik, I saw people, who would easily passed for either American Indians or Siberians. They were very distrustful of strangers and would not let me photograph either their homes or themselves.
DNA studies are continually changing our understanding of the past.
There are no internationally accepted DNA test markers for the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern United States. However, definite descendants from the Uchee homeland in eastern Georgia are showing up with unexpectedly high levels of Sami, Finnish, Basque and pre-Gaelic Irish DNA markers. Haplogroup R1b is very prevalent among them, just as it is among Algonquians in eastern Canada.
Recently completed genetic studies by the University of København in Denmark have discovered very similar DNA profiles for the people living in the Alps at the western tip of Austria, long time residents of Rhone Valley in the French Alps, the Sami and the Basques. In fact, the people of the western edge of Austria, such as Joana, the biologist touring Lapland, are more Sami than most southern Sami in Scandinavia. All three peoples have unusually high level of O- Blood Types.
For over 2,000 years, it has been known that the region around Saltzburg and Innsbruck., today known as the Tyrol, was occupied by the Raeti People at the time that the city was annexed into the Roman Empire. They were definitely not Germans, Celts or Illyrians. It was theorized by some scholars that they were Etruscans, but no one really knows who the Etruscans were!
It has long been assumed that the indigenous people of the Austrian Alps were Germanic, but the recent genetic testing shows the profiles of Austrian Alpine families to be quite different than Germanic regions to the north in Bavaria and east of the Inn River. They most closely match the DNA of the Sami and people of the Rhone Valley in the French Alps of Switzerland and France. Their DNA profiles also resemble those of the Basques in the Pyrenees Mountains of France and Spain. The Black Irish of Ireland and the Black Welsh of Wales also share many genetic traits with the Austrian Highlanders, including a high level of Haplogroup R1b paternal DNA markers.
What this all means in regard to understanding the ancient past of the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern United States is not clear at this time. One thing is clear. During the Late Neolithic and Bronze Ages in Europe, there were definitely cultural contacts across the Atlantic Ocean. The who’s, why’s and when’s of this cultural exchange are still in the realm of speculation. We march onward.
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