30 August 2010

Sequoyah and the Cherokee Language, Cherokee, North Carolina: Southern Literary Tour, Part Two: #3 (Numbers 1 and 2 to Follow)

The Cherokee Sequoyah (c.1767–1843), aka George Gist, was a silversmith by trade and could neither read nor write. His achievement – the creation of a syllabary for the formerly unwritten Cherokee language – is therefore all the more remarkable for that. After some years working on his task, by about 1823 he had devised 86 characters, and shortly after this the Cherokees adopted his system, and published the Cherokee Phoenix, their first written organ of communication.
This statue stands outside the Cherokee Indian Museum in the Great Smoky Mountains, Cherokee, North Carolina.

'This statue honoring Sequoyah, the Cherokee genius who invented the Cherokee alphabet, was sculpted from a single giant Californian sequoia (redwood) log which was donated and shipped by Georgia Pacific.

This is sculptor Peter Wolf Toth's 63rd statue across the United States and Canada commemorating the contributions of Native Americans. Toth was invited to sculpt the Sequoyah statue by Chief Robert S. Youngdeer and museum director Ken Blankenship.

Dedicated 30 September 1989.' 

A street sign, in both English and Cherokee – there are many such in the town – also remembers Sequoyah, as does a painted fiberglass bear, but that comes with the other bears in another post in due course.

1 comment:

Snatch51 said...

Would those be a couple of tears running down the cheeks of the statue, in a 'Trail of Tears' reference?

I passed through that place some years ago, saw kids playing on their bikes like any other kids, and never thought to stop and investigate the possibility of something like this!

Congratulations Dr Shaw.