Sequoyah bigraphy, stories - Cherokee linguist

Sequoyah : biography

1767 - 1843

Sequoyah (ᏍᏏᏉᏯ Ssiquoya, as he signed his name, or ᏎᏉᏯ Se-quo-ya, as his name is often spelled today in Cherokee) (c. 1770–1840), named in English George Gist or George Guess, was a Cherokee silversmith. In 1821 he completed his independent creation of a Cherokee syllabary, making reading and writing in Cherokee possible. This was the only time in recorded history that a member of a non-literate people independently created an effective writing system., New Georgia Encyclopedia, accessed 3 Jan 2009 After seeing its worth, the people of the Cherokee Nation rapidly began to use his syllabary and officially adopted it in 1825. Their literacy rate quickly surpassed that of surrounding European-American settlers.

Sequoyah's last journey and death

In addition, Sequoyah dreamed of seeing the splintered Cherokee Nation reunited. In the Spring of 1842, Sequoyah began a trip to locate other Cherokee bands who were believed to have fled to Mexico and return to the Cherokee Nation in the United States. He was accompanied by his son, Teesy, as well as other Cherokees identified as Co-tes-ka, Nu-wo-ta-na, Cah-ta-ta, Co-wo-si-ti, John Elijah, and The Worm. Sometime between 1843 and 1845, he died during a trip to San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico, when he was seeking Cherokee who migrated there at the time of Indian Removal. His resting place is believed to be in Zaragoza near the Mexico-Texas border.

The following document gives the most circumstantial account of the death of Sequoyah:
Warren's Trading House, Red River,
April 21st, 1845.
"We, the undersigned Cherokees, direct from the Spanish Dominions, do hereby certify that George Guess of the Cherokee Nation, Arkansas, departed this life in the town of San-fernando in the :month of August, 1843, and his son Chusaleta is at this time on the Brasos River, Texas, about thirty miles above the falls, and he intends returning home this fall.:Given under our hands the day and date written."
WATCH X (his mark) JUSTICE
Daniel G. Watson
Jesse Chisholm."

In 1938, the Cherokee Nation Principal Chief J. B. Milam funded an expedition to find Sequoyah's grave in Mexico. Libraries & Cultures: Bookplate Archive. 2001 (retrieved 23 June 2009) 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 was that of Sequoyah.Meredith, Howard L. Bartley Milam: Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Muskogee, Oklahoma: Indian University Press, 1985: 47. ISBN 0-940392-17-8

In 2003, the Cherokee Nation of Mexico received a Congressional Record dated May 8, 2001 acknowledging the possible discovery of Sequoyah's burial site in Coahuila, Mexico, where pilgrimages were held for several years, in honor of his legacy.

In 2011, the Muskogee Phoenix published an article relating a discovery in 1903 of a gravesite in the Wichita Mountains by Hayes and Fancher that they believed was Sequoyah's. The two men said the site was in a cave and contained a human skeleton with one leg shorter than the other, a long-stemmed pipe, two silver medals, a flintlock rifle and an ax. However, the site was far north of the Mexican border.Mullins, Jonita. Muskogee Phoenix. "Sequoyah's gravesite remains unknown." November 13, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2013.

Legacy and honors

  • Oklahoma gave a statue of Sequoyah to the National Statuary Hall in 1917. This was the first statue representing a native American to be placed in the hall. It is displayed in the Capitol rotunda in Washington D. C.
  • Sequoyah's Cabin, where he lived during 1829–1844 in Oklahoma, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
  • 1939, a bronze panel with a raised figure of Sequoyah, by Lee Lawrie, was erected in his honor at the Library of Congress.
  • Addressing the exalted place Sequoyah holds in Cherokee imagination, the 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."
  • The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Eastern Tennessee features his life and Cherokee culture.
  • On December 20, 1980 the United States Postal Service issued a 19¢ stamp in his honor in the Great Americans series.] trees were named Sequoyah gigantea after him in 1847 by Austrian biologist Stephan Endlicher. A crystalline chemical compound found by distilling the needles of the trees was then named se-quoi-ene. The caterpillar of the sequoia-borer moth, a sesiid moth, was named Bembecia sequoiae.
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