Part Ten of “The Americas Connected” Series
By Richard L. Thornton, Architect and City Planner
Remember! There are NO DNA test markers for the tribes of Eastern North America, even though the majority of Indigenous People, north of Mexico, lived along the Lower Mississippi River and the Lower half of the Southeast. Meanwhile, the oldest indigenous DNA, identified in the Southeast . . . from the Windover Pond People in Florida was identical to that of the Sami during that same period. Furthermore, as you can see above, the underwater burial practices of the Windover Pond People and the Sami were the same until the modern era.
While doing historical research for a client, several years ago, I discovered that many of the prominent families in the Muskogee-Creek Nation of Oklahoma were actually descended from a white trader married to a Uchee gal, who grew up on the Savannah or Ogeechee Rivers. Many Uchees were already conversant in English, when Savannah was founded in 1733. Throughout the colonial period, Creek, Uchee and British leaders encouraged the intermarriage of peoples to insure good relations. Creek micco, William McInstosh, was the first cousin of the Governor of Georgia!
The colonial archives of Georgia and South Carolina are consistent. Their Uchee neighbors always stated that their ancestors came across the Atlantic from the home of the sun then first settled at the mouth of the Savannah. When they arrived, there was no one living in the region, but they could see mounds and shell rings built by an earlier people.
At the time that Charleston was founded, the Uchees occupied a vast corridor, stretching from the Okefenokee Swamp to northeastern Tennessee and the region around Old Fort, Marian and Morganton in the North Carolina Piedmont. It was much larger than the “real” territory, occupied by the Cherokees.
This article will deal with the visible evidence that the Uchee were descended primarily from the Sami, but some Uchee tribes may have come from other parts of Northwestern Europe. I often get angry letters from Tennessee, concerning these statements. In the mid-and-late 20th century, University of Tennessee anthropology professors decided to designate themselves the experts on the Uchees, since there were Uchee villages in eastern Tennessee. They didn’t do their homework, primarily because they started with presumption that eastern Tennessee was the center of the world. The messages, often interlaced with crude pejoratives, all state that the “Yuchi” (that’s a Tennessee spelling) were “real Indians” not Europeans. Of course, like the self-styled experts at the university, these people never met a Uchee or a Sami in their life.
For decades, geneticists and anthropologists insisted that the Sami of Lapland were no relation to American Indians. We lived with textbooks that claimed their Asian features were the result of adaptation to their environment. The same textbooks stated that blue eyes and blond hair were the result of living in a cold climate . . . yet in Sweden, the most blondes and redheads are found in the extreme south, while hair color and pigmentation get starkly darker, once one crosses the Arctic Circle.
In 2018, the Max Plank Institute in Germany blew lid off a lot of Sami myths. Scientists there analyzed genetic material from Neolithic pond burials in Finland, much in the same way that geneticists in Florida analyzed the brain matter in the Windover Pond people. The results were quite similar, but the German scientists went a step further and determined that the first people to live in northern Finland and Sweden were from Siberia! Go back far enough and the Sami had the same ancestors as American Indians. They also determined that the Sami occupied a much larger area of northern Europe until the Late Iron Age, when they were pushed northward by Germanic Swedes. The somewhat less Asiatic appearance of modern Sami is the result of mating with Finns and Scandinavians, who arrived in the region later. Conversely, Swedes, Norwegians and Finns living in several regions carried a much higher level of Asiatic DNA than expected due to intermarriage with the Sami.
If you want to learn more about the genetic connection between the Windover Pond People of Florida and the Sami, go to this earlier Americas Revealed article:
Don Ricardo is dangerous, when looking at old slides!
Last night, I was looking at my slides from Lapland . . . most for the first time. I came across a photo of a Nord Sami flicka, which blew my mind. Most of the young adults at the hostel were from Sweden, Denmark, Germany or France. I looked REAL different than them. This is he only photo I have of me from that year, now. The lady on the right is obviously of French ethnicity, not Swedish . . . but she had redeeming qualities. No, I am not picking my nose! I had just waved, but our friend took the picture late.
There was a young lady at the hostel, about my age, who also looked different from everyone else. When I first arrived at the hostel, she started starring at me. Soon she came up to me and spoke in a language, which I presumed to be Finnish. I responded, “Jag förstår inte finska.” (I do not understand Finnish.) She responded in Swedish, “Du är inte svensk. Vilket land kommer du ifrån?” (You are not Swedish. What country are you from?)
I told her, “Förenta staterna.” (The United States) In very good English, she then asked me if my parents were from Sápmi (Sami word for Lapland). I told her no, but everybody in Scandinavia thought I was a Northern Sami. I thought it was because I was part American Indian.
She was very nice and had a very similar personality to me . . . whereas it was difficult for me initially to carry on meaningful conversations with Swedish gals. They are rather “distant” until you spend some time with them . . . or they down several alcoholic beverages. Of course, back then I had no idea that our family carried substantial Sami and Finnish DNA.
We went out to dinner to feast on traditional Sami food like reindeer roast and lingonberries. Her parents grew up in Northern Sweden, but taught in a university somewhere to the south. Her mother was Scandinavian, so this lady did not have as dark of pigmentation as typical Northern Sami. After the meal, we walked around Kiruna. She asked me if I would like to be her camping partner for a few days, to see if we got along . . . maybe much longer, if we did. I told her that I had a previous, work-related commitment to be the bodyguard of a biologist. She did not quite believe me. What I said was true, but not the whole story.
Joana the biologist and NATO lieutenant showed up the next morning in her yellow Volkswagen Bug. The Northern Sami flicka boarded a bus from somewhere. I never saw her again, but look at this. On the left is a forensic artist’s model of a woman, buried in Windover Pond, Florida. On the right is my temporary Sami flicka friend. Amazing! Look closely at the shape of her eyes.
This is actor Pernell Roberts of Waycross, GA, when he was 17 years old. He played Adam Cartwright on the hit TV series, Bonanza and also hosted several National Geographic TV documentaries. The Roberts considers themselves to be of Creek descent, but originally settled in the part of Georgia that was mostly Uchee.
Look at the shape of Pernell’s eyes. He has those same Asiatic almond eyes as the Windover Pond woman and the Northern Sami gal.
This image is from a color slide of a friendly Northern Sami gal, who lived about 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle. She has those almond-shaped eyes, but also the tan complexion, which is typical of Northern Sami. In mid-August it was quite a bit warmer, where she lived than farther north in Lapland.
This is a photo of a fellow college intern in Governor Jimmy Carters’ office. Her family considered themselves to be of Creek descent, but her hometown was Hawkinsville, GA. Hawkinsville was originally a major Uchee town on the Ocmulgee River. During the 1800s, my ancestors often journeyed to Hawkinsville to meet a spouse. Creek traditions and tribal laws forbade the marriage of closely related couples. This is the reason that today, diabetes is very rare among eastern Creeks and endemic among many Native American tribes.
Caron has the same sincere, pretty smile of the Sami lady, but also shares those almond shaped eyes. I have some aunts and cousins, who look Uchee and others, who look Itsate Creek or Apalache Creek like myself and my late mother.
The truth is out there somewhere!