Cherokee Nation Recognizes October 15 as “Day of Sequoyah,” 200 Years After Creation of Cherokee Syllabary | New

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TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation recognizes Friday, October 15 as “Sequoyah Day” in honor of the 200th anniversary of Sequoyah’s creation of the Cherokee syllabary.

Senior Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. signed an official proclamation declaring October 15 “Sequoyah Day” during a small rally on October 12 at Sequoyah’s Cabin Museum in Sequoyah County with members of his cabinet, members of the Council of the Cherokee Nation, and the Cherokee team of translators from the Cherokee Nation Language Department.

The language department translated the proclamation into the Cherokee syllabary and worked with John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, to produce the Cherokee proclamation on a printing press using a special ordered syllabary composition.

“Sequoyah’s creation of the Cherokee syllabary 200 years ago is one of the driving forces that have helped the Cherokee nation prosper. He gave our people the greatest sword and the greatest shield we have ever wielded: the ability to communicate with each other and with the rest of the world, ”said Chief Hoskin. “Sequoyah’s revolution in thought and literacy sustained us during a time when we could have faced our demise. Now our challenge is to continue to preserve and perpetuate the language both spoken and written and to ensure that future generations can do what our ancestors did for the past 200 years i.e. continue their education and strengthen our great tribal nation.

Sequoyah completed the syllabary in 1821, and the Cherokee Nation adopted the syllabary as their official writing system on October 15, 1825. Today, the Cherokee syllabary consists of 86 characters.

“When Sequoyah came up with the written language, its creation allowed one Cherokee to show a piece of his heart to another Cherokee for miles and miles,” said Howard Paden, executive director of the Cherokee Nation Language Department. . “Today our elders and translators help translate pieces of Cherokee syllabary written on documents as old as 150 years old. Some words have not been spoken for decades. Through this work, we are preserving the Cherokee language in such a complex way. The process still allows a Cherokee to share a piece of their heart through that piece of paper, but instead of being miles away, it’s decades or hundreds of years later. We couldn’t have done it without Sequoyah. We could not have done it without the work and efforts of Chief Hoskin, his administration and the Council as well.

Earlier this year, Cherokee Language Program Director Roy Boney worked with Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism to commission a special composition of the Cherokee syllabary to produce the proclamation in partnership with John Brown University.

“I have always been fascinated by the Cherokee syllabary. I grew up in a house with Cherokee speakers, ”Boney said. “I grew up with it, I always saw it. When I went to college, I studied graphic design because I was interested in writing and typography. For me, being able to work on this project and have worked with real movable type and seeing how it went from that to the digital age gave me a much better appreciation for it all.

The proclamation signed by Chief Hoskin reaffirms the Cherokee Nation’s commitment to protect and perpetuate the Cherokee language for generations to come. As part of these efforts, Chief Hoskin signed the Durbin Feeling Language Preservation Act in 2019 to provide a historic $ 16 million investment in the preservation of the Cherokee language, the largest language investment in the nation’s history. cherokee. The late Durbin Feeling dedicated his life to preserving the Cherokee language for future generations, doing more for the Cherokee language than anyone since Sequoyah.

The tribe inaugurated in 2020 the Durbin Feeling Language Center, a state-of-the-art 50,000 square foot facility that will be housed in the former Cherokee Casino Tahlequah. The center will become the long-term headquarters of the Cherokee Language Department, which includes more than a dozen unique programs for the perpetuation of the Cherokee language. For the first time in history, all of the tribe’s language programs will be brought together under one roof once construction is complete. The campus will also soon include homes for Cherokee speakers.

Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner made the preservation and perpetuation of the language a priority, as only about 2,000 native Cherokee speakers are alive today. In July, Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner signed an agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina to protect and preserve the language, history and culture by working with Western Carolina University, which is found on EBCI lands and offers a Cherokee study program. minor and Cherokee language courses.


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