Leadership, Accomplishment and Cultural Celebration


Ingenuity in Written Communication

19-cent Sequoyah stamp
The Sequoyah stamp was the first issue in the Great Americans series. The stamp image is based on a full-color portrait of Sequoyah, painted in 1965 by Charles Banks Wilson, that hangs in the Oklahoma state capital. It was issued in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, December 27, 1980.



Visionary, Pioneer Communicator and Publisher

Sequoyah, a skilled silversmith without a formal education, understood the importance of the written word or “talking leaves” of the non-Native settlers, and set out to devise a method of writing using 85 symbols to represent all the vowel and consonant sounds that formed the Cherokee language.

Sequoyah’s syllabary was completed around 1821 and brought written literacy to the Cherokee people. It was used to publish books, newspapers, hymnals, and handbills.

Tsa la gi Tsu lehisanunhi or The Cherokee Phoenix, made possible through the innovation of the syllabary, became the first American Indian newspaper in 1828.

refer to caption
English-Cherokee-Cherokee syllabary dictionary published in 1975.
26/1658 Courtesy, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.