This summer, we spent some time in Cherokee, NC. We arrived in time to go to the last showing of the season of the outdoor drama, “Unto These Hills,” which portrayed the challenges the Cherokee Indians faced when the United States government tried to relocate them to what is now Oklahoma. Part of the story involved Sequoyah, who, in addition to being a brave man who stood up for his people, also formed the Cherokee syllabary. Many of the Cherokee people were moved, and Sequoyah himself eventually moved west.
In Sallisaw, there is historic landmark, the centerpiece of which is the cabin Sequoyah built when he moved to Oklahoma. This was such a peaceful place, it almost seemed sacrilegious to even talk. The Oklahoma Historical Society has done an excellent job showcasing the tools and lifestyle of the times. It still amazes me that people of the early 1880s could have used such sophisticated tools. The amount of time that it must have taken just for everyday necessities is astounding. After all, they didn’t have a grocery store or even running water.
There is also an informative display on the formation of a written language, and specifically the Cherokee language. For one man to be able to isolate each sound of a language and assign a unique written symbol for it without anyone’s assistance is something that was never known before or since. What an awesome legacy this man has left.