Published on October 20, 2013 by Amy
Archie Sam (30 June 1914 – 23 May 1986) was a Natchez-Cherokee-Muscogee Creek traditionalist, stomp dance leader, scholar, enrolled member of the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, and the Sun Chief of the Natchez Nation.
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Archie Sam was born in the Greenleaf Mountain community near Braggs, Oklahoma on 30 June 1914. Archie was the youngest son of White Tobacco Sam, son of Creek Sam, and his mother was Aggie Cumsey, a fullblood Longhair clan Cherokee. Archie Sam was the grandnephew of Watt Sam, the last native speaker of the Natchez language.
Sam married Maudie Louise Quinton Sam (1914–2006), and the couple had two children, Roy Wayne Sam (1945–2011) and Adeline Naeher.
Sam attended Bacone College in Muskogee and graduated from Connors State College in Warner. He then enlisted in the 45th Infantry Division and in 1940 he served overseas in World War II, participating in special missions at Thule Air Base in northern Greenland where he met and hunted with the Inughuit. After the war he transferred to the United States Air Force where he remained in the Air Force for 21 years before working for the United States Postal Service.
In 1977 Sam worked with professor Charles Van Tuyl to recover sound recordings of Watt Sam that had been archived at the University of Chicago. These are the only known recordings of the Natchez language being spoken.
Upon retiring in 1971, he dedicated himself to the preservation of his indigenous heritage. He was a practitioner of native Natchez religion, and in 1969 he revived the Medicine Springs ceremonial ground, located near Gore, Oklahoma.
Archie Sam died on 23 May 1986 and is buried in the Fort Gibson National Cemetery in Fort Gibson, Oklahoma.