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The Sami – Alps – Southeastern USA Connection

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.

Kiruna, Lapland STF  – Vandrahem

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.

I was not prepared for the gray skies and desolated landscape of Lapland in August.  Many plants had already been killed by frost.


The houses of the Uchee (Deptford Culture), Adena People, Caddo and Southern Sami were identical.


These earth lodges are very similar to those originally constructed by the Kansa, Arikara and Mandan.


The houses of the Uchee (Deptford Culture), Adena People, Caddo and Southern Sami were identical.


Note that the grass has already been stunted by frosts!   Apparently a UFO was shooting a green laser beam, when I took this photo!  LOL


The trees had turned near the Arctic Circle, but it was still summer farther south.


Churches in Northern Lapland must have separate buildings in front with tall steeples to hold coffins for the 8 months, when the ground is frozen.



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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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.



    Richard, Thanks for the Great articles. Did the Apalache and later called Creeks leaders used the term “Joana” for a Spiritual leader? Clearly more connections with different Groups of peoples that migrated to the South and more connections to what the Natives here would call a mixed peoples (Yuchi /Tokah). Those people really got around with connections in China, Afghanistan, India, Turkey, Europe, the South East US and perhaps in the Caribbean and Mesoamerica. They did build circular well organized cities and the Savanna Seaport is circular…perhaps they arrived earlier than 1200 BC. Different Cherokees (14 bands) have different lore which might be the case for the Yuchi as well.
    If there was a Bronze age Kingdom that had trade cities around the world…the Yuchi were most likely were part of it? “The old Copper culture” going back to around 6000 BC with mass mining ending around 1200 BC gives this landmass a Kingdom that lasted 4800 years. That’s longer than any known Kingdom of the world.

    • Joana was how Charles de Rochefort wrote the name of the priests of Apalache. It is the Portuguese spelling of the Spanish name, Juana or Huana. However, in this case the word is Peruvian, and in English, should be written Wana. It is interesting that as late as 1735, the Creeks were still using that Peruvian word for their high priests. Chikili introduced himself to the leaders of Savannah, not as King or Principal Chief, but as Wana of the Western towns (on the Chattahoochee River).


    Richard, Thanks for the reply….you have proof that that a whole lot of different groups of peoples migrated from different parts of the world to the South.


    Richard T., Do you still think (proto-)Polynesians somehow ended up in the Alps (Europe)?

    In the post “OMG! . . . There was a Polynesian tribe in the Lower Southeast” posted on May 2, 2018; You said:
    “The true Celts lived in the Austrian and Bavarian Alps. Although the Irish, Scots and Welsh will often call themselves Celtic, geneticists have discovered that they absorbed Celtic cultural practices, but were not genetically, Celts. Wasser is obviously related to the Pan-Oceanic words for water and ocean. How in the heck did Proto-Polynesians get into the Austrian Alps?”

    Having done much (on and off) research on Oceanic people for years I see a similarity in the Polynesian Ra’iātea / Rangiātea and Raeti (Raetia / Rhaetia).
    Could it be that the Raeti (Raetian/Rhaetian) people are linked (descendants of) to the Polynesian people from Ra’iātea / Rangiātea?

    Quote from wikipedia (Raiatea):
    “The proper spelling of the name in the Tahitian language is Ra’iātea, meaning bright sky”

    Quote from Maori dictionary:
    “Rangiātea 1. (location) a place in Hawaiki and point of final dispersal of some migration canoes. Also a mountain of significance in Ngāti Maniapoto territory.”

    Sources/Links: – (Raetia – Alps) – (Raiatea – Society Islands)

    • No, it was a Sami tribe that journeyed southward from the Baltic Sea Basin to the Austrian Alps – not Polynesian. It was not my idea. This was discovered by genetic research in Europe.


        Thank you for your reply. Do you think Raeti (Rhaeti/Raetia/Rhaetia) is derived from a Sami word or combined Sami words which implies that the Raeti/Rhaeti are a Sami tribe? Or do you think the Sami population in the Alps and the Raeti are unrelated people?

        If the Sami and the Raeti are unrelated people do you still think the word or name Raeti could be derived from the Polynesian Ra’iātea / Rangiātea perhaps a given name by Polynesian seafarers?

        Also do you still believe the word “wasser” which is found in the languages/dialects in the Alps are related to Pan-Oceanic words for water and ocean?

        • I have no clue. The Raeti apparently were the Sami. However, I dont’ know much about this subject.


    Richard T., Perhaps for now the Sami and the Raeti/Rhaeti should be seen as unrelated people until furter research has been done.
    Having said that, I found a map showing migrations during or right after the Ice Age. I will include the link below.

    Could you take a look at the map and see how accurate it is? In this case it shows migration arrows from East Asia, Siberia; Proto-Uralic and Balkan pointing towards the Sami/Sámi.
    What’s interesting is the Ice Age Balkan people also migrated towards central Europe seemingly near the Alps. If the migration map is accurate; could it be that the DNA of some present day Sami are actually related to those Ice Age Balkan people? It could explain why DNA related to the Sami is showing up in the Alps.

    On the Ra’iātea / Rangiātea comparission – similarity with the name Raeti/Rhaeti; It has always been a question how canoes/boats in Scandinavia and Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) and Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia (Oceania) were/are similar in form and construction.
    You mentioning that the word “wasser” meaning “water” and “Ocean” in and around the Alps is related to Pan-Oceanic with the now discovered Sami DNA related people in the Alps is a reason to mention Ra’iātea / Rangiātea which is an important name and place for Polynesians.
    It could have been and maybe it still can be the explanation ;if proof is found; why there is similar (almost identical) canoe/boat construction in Scandinavia and ISEA and Oceania. Of course, The question than would be; did the Sami learn that particular canoe/boat construction from ISEA/Oceanic people or was it the other way around?

    To readers and POOF members, This is only a theory and should not be taken as fact.

    Link: – (Migration Map after the last Ice Age)


    Richard I am in a Native American Cousins study group. The admin taught me how to use GedMatch Paint to look at admixtures based on World-22 data. I have a family line from Southeastern NC which family lore said was Lumbee or Catawba. The feature showed so much Sami and North American Indian. We can’t place either one because our grandparents refused to talk about it. I suspect from reading several of your articles we might be Uchi and or Creek. We also have a lot of Oceanic, a little South American, and some Artic Indian. I think we are more Indian than the Ancestry people are able to confirm at this time.

    • Your DNA is pretty much the same as our family, except we also have a lot of Maya DNA indicators. With that Polynesian, it safe to say that your Native American ancestors were Uchee or Apalachee-Creeks, living in the Savannah River Basin. Thanks for writing us. Richard T.


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