ERIC Number: ED231586
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Dec-7
Reference Count: 0
How Literacy Came to the Cherokees and the Role of Ahyokeh in the Demonstration, Validation and Refinement of Sequoyah's Syllabary.
The Cree and Cherokee syllabary systems were designed by gifted amateurs, such as Sequoyah, who received no funding or significant institutional support. Although he had influential kinsmen in his matrilineage, his project encountered active, widespread opposition from his contemporaries prior to its validation in 1821. Sequoyah found it necessary to teach a second Cherokee speaker to read and write his syllabary. This was essential to demonstrate its utility since to validate the system there must be two literate people. Sequoyah prevailed upon one of his young daughters, Ahyokeh, to learn his newly invented alphabet, which she rapidly learned to write and read fluently. The choice of this daughter to serve as his collaborator may have been fortuitous since she was too ingenuous to share in the popular wisdom that the syllabary would never work and just young enough to have the imagination and learning capability required for her role in the demonstration, validation and refinement of her father's invention. Ahyokeh played a key role in the important matter of convincing the skeptics. Yet it is one thing to invent a writing system and quite another thing to get people to use it. In the latter respect, Ahyokeh's contributions in validating the Cherokee syllabary seem to have been invaluable. (ERB)
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Sequoyah; Sequoyah Syllabary
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (Washington, DC, December 7, 1982).