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BirthplaceTaskigi, Cherokee Nation (near present day Knoxville, Tennessee)
silversmith, blacksmith, teacher, soldier


(sĭkwoi`ə), c.1766–1843, Native North American leader, creator of the Cherokee syllabary, b. Loudon co., Tenn. Although many historians believe that he was the son of a Cherokee woman and a white trader named Nathaniel Gist, his descendants dispute this claim. To most Americans he was known as George Guess; to the Cherokee he was known as Sogwali. The name Sequoyah was given to him by missionaries. A silversmith and a trader in the Cherokee country in Georgia, he set out to create a system for reducing the Cherokee language to writing, and he compiled a table of 85 characters; he took some letters from an English spelling book and by inversion, modification, and invention adopted the symbols to Cherokee sounds. There is some dispute as to when the syllabary was completed. Many historians date its completion at about 1821; Cherokee tradition holds that it was created much earlier and was actually in use as early as the late 18th cent. In 1822, Sequoyah visited the Cherokee in Arkansas, and soon he taught thousands of the Native Americans to read and write. He moved with them to present-day Oklahoma. Parts of the Bible were soon printed in Cherokee, and in 1828 a weekly newspaper was begun. His remarkable achievement helped to unite the Cherokee and make them leaders among other Native Americans. The giant tree, sequoiasequoia
, name for the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and for the big tree, or giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), both huge, coniferous evergreen trees of the bald cypress family, and for extinct related species.
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, is named for him.


See biographies by G. Foreman (1938, repr. 1970) and C. C. Coblentz (1946, repr. 1962); Traveller Bird, Tell Them They Lie: The Sequoyah Myth (1971).

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References in periodicals archive ?
(6) Charles Fletcher Lummis Manuscript Collection and Papers 1879-1928, Sequoya League Series, Warner Ranch Subseries, Braun Research Library, Southwest Museum of the American Indian, Autry National Center of the American West.
Eoe1/4EoThe offer gives fixed line and Internet subscribers the chance to enter the draw on two Sequoyas, free one-year subscription for 20 subscribers in one telecom service when they pay their bills.Eoe1/4A[yen]
"The Paternity of Sequoya, the Inventor of the Cherokee Alphabet." Chronicles of Oklahoma 1.2 (1921): 121-30.
For more information about Independence Trail, write to John Olmsted at Sequoya Challenge, Box 1026, Nevada City, CA 95959, 916/272-3823.
Sequoya served on the delegation that signed a treaty (1828) resulting in moving the Cherokees to Indian Territory.
- Sequoya Tillman came off the bench to score 16 points, and Lane Community College rolled to a 96-44 women's basketball victory over South Puget Sound in the consolation semifinals of the Everett Crossover Tournament.
Jana Sequoya, a contemporary Native American scholar, emphasizes the frustrations of this situation: "In order to be perceived as speaking subjects, American Indians must adopt categories of meaning and codes of representation that convey an implicit set of goals in many ways contrary to those that articulate their own stories."(1) To be heard in the dominant culture, then, Natives must often negotiate story lines written about them with little regard for their particular experiences.
(1.) Sequoya, Jana (Chickasaw), "How (!) is an Indian?: A Contest of Stories," in New Voices in Native American Literary Criticism, Arnold Krupat, ed.
Sequoya Technologies Group is redirecting its energy toward sustainability in more ways than one.
Jana Sequoya, in "How(!) Is An Indian?: A Contest of Stories," provides a useful and complementary discussion regarding the ethics of Native American representation (literary, scholarly, and otherwise) in the academy, particularly because her essay reveals the contestatory nature permeating discussions of identity, community, authenticity, representation, and culture (or "having stories") in and out of the university.