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Featured Exhibit

The Story of Sequoyah

Sequoyah (c. 1776-1843)

Never before or since, in the history of the world, has one man not literate in any language, perfected a system for reading and writing a language.

Visitors to the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum will experience the life of the man Sequoyah – father, soldier, silversmith, statesman and creator of the Cherokee writing system. At the center of the story the deeply personal quest of Sequoyah’s single-minded concentration on solving the mystery of the “talking leaves.” He spent those years in near isolation, facing down social derision and tribal suspicion, enduring family rebellion, and believing – almost alone – that he could create a written language for the Cherokee.

Although he had no formal education, he brought his Cherokee heritage, his skills as an artisan, and his hopes for his people into the fires of his imagination, and wrought the sounds of the Cherokee language into symbols his people could easily understand and learn. After his long travail, practically overnight, the Cherokee began using Sequoyah’s syllabary to transform themselves into a literate society, an accomplishment that changed both their lives and his.

Printing Press and Sequoyah