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Cherokee language syllabary - Language - Cherokee Nation



TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The children stand in a circle, just beyond a poster of a U.S. map that highlights the swath of the Southeastern United States that the Cherokees once controlled.

The fourth-grade students are in a classroom at the Cherokee Nation Immersion School in eastern Oklahoma, where they speak, learn and write in nothing but the tongue of their ancestors.

The conversation among the animated pupils bounces around the circle. They are preparing for a Cherokee language competition and in doing so, talking about a scenario in which they are looking to meet up with their teacher, Glenda Beitz, in a Walmart parking lot — if they could only remember where she lived.

Cherokee language , Cherokee name Tsalagi Gawonihisdi , North American Indian language , a member of the Iroquoian family, spoken by the Cherokee (Tsalagi) people originally inhabiting Virginia , West Virginia , North Carolina , South Carolina , Georgia , Alabama , Kentucky , and Tennessee . Cherokee was one of the first American Indian languages to have a system of writing devised for it—a syllabary , so called because each of the graphic symbols represents a syllable .

Sequoyah (also called George Guess or George Gist), the half-Cherokee Indian who developed the Cherokee syllabary from 1809 to 1821, began by trying to devise a logographic alphabet (one graphic symbol for one word), though that eventually proved to be too unwieldy. He next determined to create characters for each syllable. This he did, producing a handwritten system with little inspiration from English. Ultimately, his syllabary included 86 symbols.

That writing system was taken by the Cherokees who went to Oklahoma over the course of the 1830s and was used in official documents and newspapers there. Although its public use gradually declined over the next 100 years, it continued to appear in private correspondence, renderings of the Bible , and descriptions of Indian medicine.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The children stand in a circle, just beyond a poster of a U.S. map that highlights the swath of the Southeastern United States that the Cherokees once controlled.

The fourth-grade students are in a classroom at the Cherokee Nation Immersion School in eastern Oklahoma, where they speak, learn and write in nothing but the tongue of their ancestors.

The conversation among the animated pupils bounces around the circle. They are preparing for a Cherokee language competition and in doing so, talking about a scenario in which they are looking to meet up with their teacher, Glenda Beitz, in a Walmart parking lot — if they could only remember where she lived.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The children stand in a circle, just beyond a poster of a U.S. map that highlights the swath of the Southeastern United States that the Cherokees once controlled.

The fourth-grade students are in a classroom at the Cherokee Nation Immersion School in eastern Oklahoma, where they speak, learn and write in nothing but the tongue of their ancestors.

The conversation among the animated pupils bounces around the circle. They are preparing for a Cherokee language competition and in doing so, talking about a scenario in which they are looking to meet up with their teacher, Glenda Beitz, in a Walmart parking lot — if they could only remember where she lived.

Cherokee language , Cherokee name Tsalagi Gawonihisdi , North American Indian language , a member of the Iroquoian family, spoken by the Cherokee (Tsalagi) people originally inhabiting Virginia , West Virginia , North Carolina , South Carolina , Georgia , Alabama , Kentucky , and Tennessee . Cherokee was one of the first American Indian languages to have a system of writing devised for it—a syllabary , so called because each of the graphic symbols represents a syllable .

Sequoyah (also called George Guess or George Gist), the half-Cherokee Indian who developed the Cherokee syllabary from 1809 to 1821, began by trying to devise a logographic alphabet (one graphic symbol for one word), though that eventually proved to be too unwieldy. He next determined to create characters for each syllable. This he did, producing a handwritten system with little inspiration from English. Ultimately, his syllabary included 86 symbols.

That writing system was taken by the Cherokees who went to Oklahoma over the course of the 1830s and was used in official documents and newspapers there. Although its public use gradually declined over the next 100 years, it continued to appear in private correspondence, renderings of the Bible , and descriptions of Indian medicine.

The Cherokee Nation is the federally-recognized government of the Cherokee people and has inherent sovereign status recognized by treaty and law. The seat of tribal government is the W.W. Keeler Complex near Tahlequah, Okla., the capital of the Cherokee Nation.

With more than 317,000 citizens, over 8,000 employees and a variety of tribal enterprises ranging from aerospace and defense contracts to entertainment venues, Cherokee Nation’s economic impact in Oklahoma and surrounding areas is more than $1.5 billion annually. We are one of the largest employers in northeastern Oklahoma. We are the largest tribal nation in the United States.

The Cherokee Nation is committed to protecting our inherent sovereignty, preserving and promoting Cherokee culture, language and values, and improving the quality of life for the next seven generations of Cherokee citizens.


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