: Sequoyah, ~1776-1843

Sequoyah, or George Guess (or Gist), was born the son of a Virginian fur trader and the daughter of a Cherokee chief in the village of Tuskegee, Tennessee. He and his mother were abondoned by the father, and his mother left to raise him herself.

Early in life he worked as a silversmith, and also served with the Cherokee regiment in 1813-14 against the Creek Redsticks. He never learned either how to speak English nor how to write anything more than his own name, but did recognize and appreciate the influence and usefulness of the written word. Around 1809, he began work on the development of a writing system, and 12 years later produced the finished results.

The script is a syllabary composed of 85 unique glyphs, each representing a distinct phonetic component of the Cherokee language.
The illustration on the right shows the Sequoya syllabary, and alongside each character the form ultimately used. Of the characters finally used, only a few actually retain the original shape, or derivatives thereof. Those sharing Latinate forms may or may not have been suggested by the Rev. Samuel Worcester, who helped Sequoya to improve and finally adapt the script for use as foundry type.
This adapated script was (probably) first cast into type by Baker & Greele of Boston in c.1829 . *More details to be added later. Anybody with pertinant information is welcome to contact this site's editor.

In the mean time...

Some Links :

Official Cherokee Site (Tehlequah, Oklahoma)

Sequoyah Biography by Thomas Bierowski

Biography of Samuel Worcester










Cherokee as foundry type


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