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.