The Invention of Cherokee Writing

The man who was destined to create the Cherokee written language was man called Sequoyah. His mother was Cherokee and his father was white but his father left shortly after he was born. Though originally he took to the ways of the Cherokee becoming a hunter and a fur trader. However he was handicapped during a hunting exercise but this allowed him to use his time doing other things.

When his mother died he began wandering from village to village with his daughter. Though he made a living as a silversmith he spent much of his time on a secret project. Most of his friends thought he was insane walking through the woods writing down strange symbols on pieces of bark.

He served sometime as a soldier in the war of 1812 and the Creek War but despite this and the constant ridicule from friends and family he still was working on his secret project. At one point he settled down in what is now Alabama. However certain people began thinking he was not mad and practicing witchcraft and one day when visiting the medicine man his home was burned down. He shortly left the village with his daughter and traveled to Oklahoma and Arkansas and met a Woman called Sally who believed in him.

I’m sure by the title of this article you can guess what his secret project was. He planned on inventing a writing system for the Cherokee. He believed this would help his people in signing treaties as they signed treaties they could not read. He also thought this would help with communication and writing down history. Though he never learned the English language he was fascinated by it.

Originally he tried to create an alphabet that had one letter for each word but after a year he had thousands of letters that even he couldn’t understand. So then instead writing an alphabet like ours he decided to try a system that had one letter for each syllable that his tribe used. In order to use unique symbols he took roman letters and turned them upside down or put a dash through them or some other unique twist. Then after many years working on this he decided to show the tribe’s council his work. But before this he taught his daughter and the system was so easy ┬áto understand she learned it in a week.

 

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