Penn Library

CULTURAL READINGS: Colonization & Print in the Americas


Sequoyah
Special Collections, University of Pennsylvania Library
Thomas McKenney and James Hall,
History of the Indian Tribes of North America: with biographical sketches and anecdotes of the principal chiefs...

Philadelphia: E.C. Biddle, 1836-1844.

Sequoyah (George Guess, c.1770-1843) spent over a decade developing a syllabary for writing the Cherokee language. His system was remarkably simple, and became popular throughout the tribe (see the Cherokee Constitution). Paradoxically, Sequoyah's motivation in appropriating the European-introduced technology of writing lay in his desire to combat Cherokee acculturation to Euro-American norms. The syllabary promoted Cherokee pride by making literacy available in the Cherokees' own language. Advocates of the syllabary also noted that, by writing in Cherokee, their written communication would not be available to whites.

Print and Native Cultures

Exhibition Contents | Introduction | Essays | Bibliography & Links


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