(born circa 1760/1770, Taskigi, North Carolina colony—died August 1843, near San Fernando, Mex.) Creator of the Cherokee writing system. Sequoyah was probably the son of a British trader. Convinced that the secret of the white people's power was written language, Sequoyah set about developing a Cherokee system. Adapting letters from English, Greek, and Hebrew, he created a system of 86 symbols representing all the syllables of the Cherokee language. Most Cherokee quickly became literate as a result. Sequoyah never learned to speak, read, or write English.
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