How a Cherokee Leader Ensured His People’s Language Survived

Prior to colonization, more than 300 diverse languages were spoken by Native Americans in what is now called the United States. However, nearly all of these languages had one feature in common: they had no written form.

In 1809, a Cherokee man named Sequoyah began working on a writing system for his nation’s language. It was a monumental task, especially considering that he could not read or write in English or any other language. But 12 years later, he completed the Cherokee syllabary, an innovative writing system that is still used today.

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