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Learn this beautiful song and you will know the Cherokee alphabet!

The Alabama Cherokee Sequoyah invented the Cherokee alphabet and after 1829, the Cherokee people printed a weekly paper.


HUGH CARDON’S HISTORY OF CHEROKEE COUNTY, ALABAMA

 Part III

Mr. Hugh Cardon wrote the following history of Cherokee County on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the county in 1936. This history was published in the COOSA RIVER NEWS on Friday, August 7, 1936. Mr. Cardon was a much respected historian of the county and a collector of antiques and Indian artifacts. He died February 11, 1953. The Historical Society collected a number of his articles written for the public press published them from time to time. The following article was preserved by Mr. J. Robert Embry of the Blanche, Lookout Mountain Valley, Little River Area and loaned it to the Historical Society.

Cherokees possessed high mental abilities

The Cherokees possessed mentalities above the ordinary aborigines, and soon caught the flame of inspiration and desire for literary achievement. The Cherokees were, in the beginning, taught to read and write the English Language but their white preceptors found that his was a very difficult and painful procedure, however, there was apparently no remedy for the situation, until there rose from among the ranks of Cherokees one referred to as “The Cadmus of his Race.” George Guess, or Sequoyah, was the son of a mixed blood mother and a white father.sequoyah

Sequoyah found pleasure in things other than sports

As a youth he did not relish the sports commonly engaged in by Indian boys, but found more pleasure in strolling through the woods, studying nature, building houses with sticks, and carving in stone. His father having abandoned his mother while Sequoyah was young, it fell his lot to be ‘the man of the house’, which position he occupied with dignity and credit.

He became an expert in making silver ornaments

We are not positive as to the exact place of Sequoyah’s birth, but it is definitely known that he lived for a while near Wills Town in DeKalb County, and he is also listed as being a resident of the Alpine district in the north end of Cherokee County, Alabama, and Chattooga County, Georgia. As Sequoyah grew older, he not only tilled the soil, raised and broke colts, and kept a herd of dairy cows, but also became an expert in the making of silver ornaments, such as bracelets, armbands, and brooches.

He signed items he made

One day while working in his shop, he was visited by Charles Hicks, who had had the benefit of schooling, to write his name on a piece of paper. Sequoyah, who could neither read nor write, then copied his name as it had been written by Hicks, on a piece of silver and thereafter stamped his name on articles which he made.

They thought writing was supernatural gift of whites

A short time later he visited the mission school at Wills Town and was astonished that a white man could write on a piece of paper and this piece of paper could be carried miles away to another white man who could read the same and understand what the white man had thought who had written the note.

Most of the Indians thought that this power of conveying thought and information on paper by means of writing was a supernatural gift, possessed only by the whites, and not intended by the Great Spirit to belong to the red man.

Sequoyah disagreed

Sequoyah, however, was not charged with this superstition, and determined that the faculty of conveying information in writing should be shared by the Indians.

Returning to his home in the forests, he reflected on the subject of inventing a language which could be understood by his people and within a short time devolved the Cherokee alphabet. This alphabet is said by linguists to be one of the easiest to learn and use of any yet invented.

Cherokee Syllabary Song

Printed a weekly paper

The Cherokee people soon became accustomed to the Sequoyah alphabet, and in 1829 the Rev. Samuel Worchester, missionary, had cast in Connecticut several fonts of Cherokee type, establishing at New Echota, Georgia, THE CHEROKEE PHENIX. This newspaper was published weekly and printed half in the Cherokee language and half in English, being edited by Elias Boudinot, a Cherokee Indian. It continued operations until about 1835 when it was suspended on account of the attitude of the people of Georgia toward the Cherokee nation.

Check out this film of Amazing Grace sung in the Cherokee language

Here are two more interesting videos on YouTube related to the Cherokee language.

 

 

 

For more information about the Cherokee language click to go to the Cherokee Nation website

 

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and www.daysgoneby.me
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14 comments

  1. […] County was once home of the famous Cherokee Native American Sequoyah, an Cherokee Chief who single-handily created an alphabet which allowed an entire nation of […]

  2. Love the alphabet would love to hear the song Ama

    1. I’ve added the Amazing Grace song link.

  3. Jerry Smith

    It’s actually a syllabary, not an alphabet. Cherokee words were made of sounds combined and spoken sequentially instead of letters. Sequoyah assigned symbols to those sounds that could be printed and interpreted by those not within earshot of the speaker.

    1. Alabama Pioneers

      Thank you for the correction and the explanation. I was a little confused as to how to make words out of the symbols. The language is beautiful and I wish I had time to learn more. I’ve also included a link to Amazing Grace sung in the Cherokee language within this story. Many people have requested that link.

    2. Jerry Smith

      Here’s a neat link to everything you need to know to speak & write Cherokee: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherokee_language

  4. Dianne Dansby

    I would like to learn more on this my great great grandfather was Cherokee.

  5. Carolyn Thornblom Hierholzer

    I’m very proud to be 1/8th Cherokee.

  6. Donna Adcock

    The Alabama Writers Hall of Fame will award Sequoyah a special honor Sept. 29 at their gala and dinner at the Bryant Conference Center in Tuscaloosa.

  7. Jennie Passarella

    Love this. Wish I had a tape of this!

  8. Vonore, Tennessee takes great pride in being the birth place of Sequoyah

  9. Brenda M Cobb

    beautiful. deb we have cherokee in our blood. loved this song.

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