1821: Sequoyah’s syllabary makes written Cherokee possible
Sequoyah, a Cherokee silversmith in northeast Alabama, often works for white settlers and is impressed by the written English language, which the Cherokee call “talking leaves.” He sets out to create a Cherokee writing system, deciding after several attempts to draw a symbol for each syllable in the spoken language. He publishes his Cherokee Agayuh, or syllabary, in 1821. It helps the Cherokee maintain their language despite forced assimilation.
- Land and Water
Courtesy The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum