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THE GENIUS OF SEQUOYAH - Carvings Of Cherokee Script's Dawn Found - BIO

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Bianca
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« on: June 23, 2009, 09:00:44 am »


Fred Coy and Andras Nagy

LETTERS Characters in a Kentucky cave that
may be the earliest examples of the script.

« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 11:49:10 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2009, 09:04:04 am »











                                              Carvings From Cherokee Script’s Dawn Found






 
JOHN NOBLE WILFORD
The NewYorkTimes
Published: June 22, 2009

The illiterate Cherokee known as Sequoyah watched in awe as white settlers made marks on paper, convinced that these “talking leaves” were the source of white power and success. This inspired the consuming ambition of his life: to create a Cherokee written language.


 
 
Born around 1770 near present-day Knoxville, Tenn., he was given the name George Gist (or Guess) by his father, an English fur trader, and his mother, a daughter of a prominent Cherokee family. But it was as Sequoyah that around 1809 he started devising a writing system for the spoken Cherokee language.

Ten years later, despite the ridicule of friends who thought him crazed, he completed the script, in which each of the 85 characters represented a distinct sound in the spoken tongue, and combinations of these syllables spelled words. Within a few years, most Cherokees had adopted this syllabary, and Sequoyah became a folk hero as the inventor of the first Native American script in North America.

It may be, as is often noted, that his achievement is the only known instance of an individual’s single-handedly creating an entirely new system of writing.

An archaeologist and explorer of caves has now found what he thinks are the earliest known examples of the Sequoyah syllabary. The characters are cut into the wall of a cave in southeastern Kentucky, a place sacred to the Cherokee as the traditional burial site of a revered chief. The archaeologist, Kenneth B. Tankersley of the University of Cincinnati, said in an interview recently that this was “one of the most fascinating and important finds in my career,” yielding likely insights into “the genius of Sequoyah.”

Roughly inscribed on the limestone wall, Dr. Tankersley said, were 15 identifiable characters from the syllabary. They are accompanied by a date, apparently carved by the same hand. Part of the date is hard to read, but it appears to be either 1818 or 1808, at least a year earlier than any previously known records of the script.

Dr. Tankersley discovered the cave writing in 2001 and in years of subsequent research established that Sequoyah often visited caves for inspiration while working on the syllabary and made several visits to the region, close to the Tennessee border in what is now Clay County. He had relatives there, the archaeologist said, and could have left the marks there himself.

Dr. Tankersley referred to the discovery in a paper on Cherokee rock art presented last year at a meeting of the Society of American Archaeology. Further details and interpretation were reported in an article in the current issue of Archaeology, the magazine of the Archaeological Institute of America.

If the date proves to be 1808, Dr. Tankersley said, Sequoyah was probably the only one then with knowledge of the writing and so must have carved the characters himself. If it was 1818, he said, it was possible that someone he taught had made the characters.

Specialists in Cherokee writing have yet to analyze the findings. William D. Welge, director of research at the Oklahoma Historical Society, who oversees an extensive archive of Cherokee records, said it “was reasonable to think that Sequoyah or one of his students carved these writing symbols.”

Any new findings about Sequoyah, Mr. Welge said, are important because his invention of Cherokee writing promoted rapid strides in education and the culture of one of the largest Native American populations. Some crucial early steps in his development of the script had been lost, the archivist said, because Sequoyah’s wife had destroyed examples of his early efforts, thinking this “the devil’s work.”

Dr. Tankersley was especially intrigued by some petroglyphs carved on the wall alongside the Cherokee characters. He said the glyphs appeared to include ancient Cherokee symbols as well as drawings representing bears, deer and birds.

Dr. Tankersley is a member of the Cherokee Nation who traces his ancestry to Red Bird, the murdered chief once buried in the cave. He said that he was investigating possible links between the traditional glyphs and a few of the symbols in Sequoyah’s script. If a link can be established, he added, the inscription may be “our Rosetta stone, enabling us to see where prehistory meets history.”

Janine Scancarelli, an authority on Cherokee writing formerly at the College of William and Mary, has written, “In their present form many of the syllabary characters resemble Roman, Cyrillic or Greek letters or Arabic numerals, but there is no apparent relationship between their sounds in other languages and in Cherokee."
« Last Edit: June 23, 2009, 09:16:04 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2009, 09:14:18 am »





             


              The syllabary devised by Sequoyah in the early 1800s
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« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2009, 09:18:43 am »




             










By some accounts, Sequoyah was a kind of Professor Henry Higgins who enlisted family members who had sharper ears for discriminating distinct sounds. They helped him divide spoken words into their constituent sounds, and to each sound he assigned a symbol drawn mostly, it is said, from an English spelling book.


The 15 characters on the cave wall — — do not spell any words. “They read almost like ABCs,” Dr. Tankersley said in the magazine article, suggesting that someone taught by Sequoyah may have been “practicing drawing them out just as we would practice our ABCs.”

While working on his invention, Sequoyah the silversmith, teacher and soldier traveled widely from North Carolina and Tennessee into Georgia and Alabama. In 1821, after he reached Arkansas, he and his daughter Ayoka demonstrated the writing to Cherokee leaders, who encouraged its instruction.

A Cherokee Baptist minister translated the New Testament using the syllabary, Dr. Tankersley said, and Sequoyah was asked to use the translation to teach Cherokee boys to write at the Choctaw Academy near Georgetown, Ky., which was run by a Baptist missionary society. Other missionaries in Oklahoma embraced the script in Bible and other book translations.

Within five years, according to the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture, “thousands of Cherokees were literate — far surpassing the literacy rates of their white neighbors.”

It was not long before the Cherokee were printing a newspaper and learning hymns (one sung to the tune of “Amazing Grace”) in the new script. But the story of Sequoyah and the newly literate Cherokee came to a sad ending.

Sequoyah had trekked all the way to Oklahoma, voluntarily joining new settlements. But these newcomers were soon followed by the infamous forced migration in the winter of 1838-39 of a multitude of Cherokees, who starved, grew sick and died on the Trail of Tears.

They were cast out of their homeland by order of President Andrew Jackson, the former general whom Sequoyah had loyally served as a soldier on the frontier in the War of 1812.
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« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2009, 09:25:35 am »

   
« Last Edit: June 24, 2009, 09:55:52 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2009, 11:49:43 am »


             

Lithograph from Indian Tribes,
McKinney and Hall, 1856.

This lithograph is from the portrait painted by

Charles Bird King
in 1828









                                                                S E Q U O Y A H





Sequoyah (ᏍᏏᏉᏯ Ssiquoya, as he signed his name,

 or

ᏎᏉᏯ Se-quo-ya, as his name is often spelled today in Cherokee
(circa 1767–1843),



named in English George Gist or Guess, was a Cherokee silversmith who in 1821 completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible.

This was one of the only times in recorded history that a member of an illiterate people independently created an effective writing system.

After seeing its worth, the Cherokee Nation rapidly began to use his syllabary and officially adopted it in 1825.

Their literacy rate rapidly surpassed that of surrounding European-American settlers.
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2009, 11:57:10 am »









                                                                   SE-QUO-YAH





 
Born c. 1770
Taskigi, Cherokee Nation
(near present day, Knoxville, Tennessee)

Died
August 1843 (1843-09)
Tamaulipas, Mexico

Nationality
Cherokee

Other names
George Guess or Gist

Occupation
Silversmith,
Blacksmith,
Teacher,
Soldier

Spouse(s)
1st:Sally
(maiden name unknown),
2nd:U-ti-yu

Children
Four with first wife,
three with second

Parents
Nathaniel Gist, Wut-teh

Signature
File:
ᏍᏏᏉᏯ






Sequoyah's heroic status has led to several competing accounts of his life that are speculative, contradictory,
or fabricated.

James Mooney, a prominent anthropologist and historian of the Cherokee people, quoted a cousin as saying that
as a little boy, Sequoyah spent his early years with his mother in the village of Tuskegee. Estimates of his birth year ranged from 1760-1776. His name is believed to come from the Cherokee word siqua meaning 'hog'. This is either a reference to a childhood deformity or a later injury that left Sequoyah disabled.

His mother Wut-teh was known to be Cherokee, belonging to the Paint Clan. Mooney stated that she was the
niece of a Cherokee chief. McKinney and Hall noted that she was a niece of chiefs that have been identified as
the brothers Old Tassel and Doublehead. Since John Watts a.k.a. Young Tassel was a nephew of the two chiefs,
it is likely that Wut-teh and John Watts were siblings. Sources differ as to the identity of Sequoyah's father. Mooney and others suggested that he was possibly a fur trader, who would have been a man of some social status and financial backing.  Grant Foreman identified him as Nathaniel Gist, a commissioned officer with the Continental Army associated with George Washington.

In one Cherokee source, his father is said to be a half-blood and his grandfather a white man.

Sequoyah first married Sally Waters, with whom he had four children. Another wife was Utiyu, with whom he had three children. He may have also had three other wives, since polygamy was common among the Cherokees. At some point before 1809, Sequoyah moved to Willstown, Cherokee Nation, in present-day northeast Alabama.

There he established his trade as a silversmith.
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2009, 12:17:44 pm »




             

              Sequoyah's syllabary in the order
              that he originally arranged the
              characters









As a silversmith, Sequoyah dealt regularly with whites who had settled in the area. The Native Americans were impressed by their writing, referring to their correspondence as "talking leaves."

Around 1809, Sequoyah began work to create a system of writing for the Cherokee language. At first he sought to create a character for each word in the language. He spent a year on this effort, leaving his fields unplanted, so that his friends and neighbors thought he had lost his mind. His wife is said to have burnt his initial work, believing it to be witchcraft.

Sequoyah did not succeed until he gave up trying to represent entire words and instead developed a symbol for each syllable in the language. After approximately a month, he had a system of 86 characters, some of which were Roman letters that he obtained from a spelling book.[10] “In their present form many of the syllabary characters resemble Roman, Cyrillic or Greek letters or Arabic numerals," says Janine Scancarelli, a scholar of Cherokee writing, "but there is no apparent relationship between their sounds in other languages and in Cherokee.”

Unable to find people willing to learn the syllabary, he taught it to his daughter Ayokeh, also spelled Ayoka, and then traveled to present-day Arkansas where some Cherokee had settled. When he tried to convince the local leaders of the syllabary's usefulness, they doubted him, believing that the symbols were merely ad hoc reminders. Sequoyah asked each of them to say a word, which he wrote down, and then called his daughter in to read the words back. This demonstration convinced the leaders to let him teach the syllabary to a few more people. This took several months, during which it was rumored that he might be using the students for sorcery. After completing the lessons, he was further tested by writing a dictated letter to each student, and reading a dictated response. This test convinced the Arkansas Cherokee that he had created a practical writing system.

When Sequoyah returned east, he brought a sealed envelope containing a written speech from one of the Arkansas Cherokee leaders. By reading this speech, he convinced the eastern Cherokee also to learn the system, after which it spread rapidly.

In 1825 the Cherokee Nation officially adopted the writing system. From 1828 to 1834 writers and editors used Sequoyah's syllabary to print the 'Cherokee Phoenix', the first newspaper of the Cherokee Nation with text in English and Cherokee.
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2009, 12:28:54 pm »











After the acceptance of his syllabary by the nation in 1825, Sequoyah walked to the new Cherokee territory in Arkansas. There he set up a blacksmith shop and a salt works. He continued to teach the syllabary to anyone who came to him. In 1828, Sequoyah journeyed to Washington, D.C. as part of a delegation to negotiate a treaty for land in Indian Territory.

His trip brought him into contact with representatives of other Native American tribes from around the nation. With these meetings he decided to create a syllabary for universal use among Native American tribes. With this in mind, Sequoyah began to journey to areas of present-day Arizona and New Mexico seeking tribes there.

In addition, Sequoyah dreamed of seeing the splintered Cherokee Nation reunited. Between 1843 and 1845, he died during a trip to Mexico seeking Cherokees who had moved there.

His burial location is believed to be at the border of Mexico and Texas.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief J. B. Milam funded an expedition to find Sequoyah's grave in Mexico.   A party of Cherokee and non-Cherokee scholars embarked from Eagle Pass, Texas on January 1939.  They found a grave site near a fresh water spring in Coahuila, Mexico but could not conclusively determine the grave site did in fact belong to Sequoyah.

Addressing the exalted place Sequoyah holds in Cherokee imagination, ethnographer Jack Kilpatrick wrote: "Sequoyah was always in the wilderness. He walked about, but he was not a hunter. I wonder what he was looking for."



               

Sequoyah's Cabin, a frontier cabin which he lived in during 1829-1844, is located in Oklahoma. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2009, 12:30:29 pm »

     


                                                  

                                  Lee Lawrie, sculpted bronze figure of Sequoyah (1939).
                                  Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2009, 12:36:01 pm »












Sequoyah's namesakes



The name of the district where Sequoyah lived in Oklahoma was changed to Sequoyah District in 1851. When Oklahoma was admitted to the union, that area became known as Sequoyah County
.
The Sequoia tree, named shortly after his death, is thought to be named for him.[16]
The proposed State of Sequoyah was named in his honor.

Sequoyah High School (Oklahoma) is a Native American boarding school named after the creator of the Cherokee syllabary.

Sequoyah High School (Tennessee) is a public high school in Madisonville, Tennessee named after him. *Sequoyah Research Center is a research center dedicated to collecting and archiving Native American thought and literature.

Mount Sequoyah in the Great Smoky Mountains was named in honor of him.

Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville, Arkansas was named in honor of him after the city donated the top of East Mountain to the Methodist Assembly for a retreat.

The Sequoyah Hills neighborhood of Knoxville, Tennessee, bears his name.

The Tennessee Valley Authority Sequoyah Nuclear Generating Station bears his name.

The Sequoyah Marina on Norris Lake which is impounded by Norris Dam, the first hydro-electric dam in Tennessee built by the Tennessee Valley Authority, was named in honor of Sequoyah.

The Sequoyah Elementary School in Russellville, Arkansas bears his name.

The USS Sequoia was a long-time yacht used by American Presidents (now privately owned).



The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum

"strives to promote the understanding and appreciation of the history and culture of the Cherokee Indians in Eastern Tennessee, particularly the life and contributions of Sequoyah."
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« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2009, 12:38:24 pm »




                                                        









References



Bender, Margaret. (2002)
Signs of Cherokee Culture:
Sequoyah's Syllabary in Eastern Cherokee Life.
Chapel Hill:
University of North Carolina Press.

Feeling, Durbin. Cherokee-English Dictionary:
Tsalagi-Yonega Didehlogwasdohdi.
Tahlequah, Oklahoma:
Cherokee Nation,
1975: xvii

Holmes, Ruth Bradley; Betty Sharp Smith (1976).
Beginning Cherokee:
Talisgo Galiquogi Dideliquasdodi Tsalagi Digoweli.
Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press.
ISBN 0-8061-1362-6.

Foreman, Grant,
Sequoyah,
University of Oklahoma Press,
Norman,OK, 1938.

McKinney, Thomas and Hall, James,
History of the Indian Tribes of North America. (Philadelphia,PA,
1837-1844).






External links



"Invention of the Cherokee Alphabet",
Cherokee Phoenix,
13 Aug 1820

John B. Davis,
"The Life and Work of Sequoyah",
Chronicles of Oklahoma,
Vol.8 (2), June 1930,
Oklahoma State University

"Sequoyah",
Tiro Typeworks

"Sequoyah (aka George Gist)",
a North Georgia Notable



The Cherokee Nation Official Website

"The Official Cherokee Font"
at the Cherokee Nation Official Website



RETRIEVED FROM:

wikipedia.org
« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 01:30:33 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2009, 12:51:57 pm »




                   

                   Statue of Sequoyah

                   Calhoun,
                   Georgia

« Last Edit: July 12, 2009, 12:53:51 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2009, 12:57:46 pm »

 

SEQUOYAH COUNTY
Oklahoma
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« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2009, 01:00:31 pm »




                                   

                                   SEQUOYAH MIDDLE SCHOOL
                                   Edmond, OK

                                                   
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