470288 Highway 101
Sallisaw, OK 74955-9744
Manager: Jerry Dobbs Staff: Michael Allen
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Sequoyah built this one-room log cabin in 1829 shortly after moving to Oklahoma. The cabin became the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1936, and the cabin was enclosed in a stone cover building as a project of the Works Progress Administration. In 1966 the Secretary of the Interior designated the site as a National Historic Landmark.
Sequoyah was born in Tennessee about 1770. Nathaniel Gist, Sequoyah's non-Indian father, left the family when Sequoyah was very young. Though lame in one leg, Sequoyah became known as a skilled blacksmith and silversmith as well as an artist. In 1809 he began experimenting with a written alphabet for the Cherokee language.
After many years of experimentation, Sequoyah realized the Cherokee language is composed of a set number of recurring sounds. With this insight he identified the sounds and created a symbol for each sound, producing a syllabary. By 1821 his work was complete. When Sequoyah demonstrated that he and his daughter, Ahuoka (Ah-yo-ka), could communicate by reading written messages, the teaching of the syllabary spread.
Sequoyah left his eastern home in 1818 to operate a salt production and blacksmith works near present-day Russellville, Arkansas. In 1828 Sequoyah joined a delegation sent to Washington by the Arkansas Cherokee to make a treaty to exchange their lands for lands in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Following this trip, Sequoyah traded his land and salt works for land located on Big Skin Bayou Creek in Indian Territory (Sequoyah County, Oklahoma).
Sequoyah by Charles Banks Wilson
From the Permanent Capitol Art Collection
Photo courtesy of the Oklahoma Arts Council