Seqouyah is the only man in history to have codified a syllabary or alphabet. The syllabary he conceived provided the Cherokee with a written language that made them a literate people and resulted in the publication of the first Native American newspaper and the first bilingual newspaper in the Americas.
Seqouyah was born about 1770 at Taskigi, Tennessee. At an early age he observed the whites reading form newspapers and books, communicating with what he called "talking leaves." Determined that his people should have their own written language, he spent 12 years developing the syllabary, completing it in 1821. In less than six months every Cherokee who spoke the language could read it.
On February 21, 1828, the Cherokee Phoenix was published in English and Cherokee at New Echota, Georgia.
A supporter of unification of all Cherokees in Indian Territory, Seqouyah led a party into Mexico in 1842 in search of those Cherokees who migrated there in the early 1800s. After most of the party returned home and while his sons Teesee and The Worm were searching for horses and previsions, Seqouyah died.
Several attempts to find his unmarked grave have failed, but monuments to him soar as high as the giant Sequoia Redwood trees of California, which were named in his honor, and in the hearts and intellects of the people who were given a written language by a genius who could not read or write English.