Learn the stories of an extraordinary man who created a written language for his people.
Sequoyah was an intelligent Cherokee man who was an only child and grew up without a father or an education. He took care of cattle and gardens while his mother ran a trading post. Sequoyah invented and built tools to make his work easier. These tools included milk troughs and skimmers. His people passed down stories orally, making record keeping almost impossible. Sequoyah was possibly born with a deformity or had some injury and might have been disabled. While growing up, he met and traded with many white men and noticed the written language they used and wanted the same for his people.
When his mother died, he took over the trading post and took up blacksmithing to repair iron farm tools. He made bellows and a forge, making repairs as well as bridle bits and spurs. One of his signature things was adding silver decorations to his work. As he interacted and observed the settlers more and more, he called their writings "talking leaves." After this, Sequoyah began working on a language using a character for each word in the language. Due to his pursuits, some people in his tribe thought what he was doing was sorcery. His wife even burned his original work because she thought it was witchcraft. The characters would be too hard to remember because there were so many and pictures for each word were not practical so he began making a symbol for each syllable.
After about a month, he had 86 symbols and taught the language to his 6 year old daughter because no one else would help him. Sequoyah then had some men each tell him a word and wrote them each down in the symbols that he had taught his daughter, had her come and then read what he had wrote in front of them and they began to believe that it was possible. Word spread and he taught anyone that wanted to learn. In 1824, Sequoyah received a medal for his work and wore it every day until he died and was buried. The Syllabary is still used today, and this museum is a sight to see. It has Native American artifacts from the 1600's, replicas of Sequoyah's cabin, and his blacksmith shop. There are also burial grounds and the lake where he went fishing in his early life. It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm and Sundays from 12 pm to 4 pm.