Cherokee Nation Translation Specialist John Ross explains how to use the numeric system created by Sequoyah. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Sequoyah’s numeric system makes comeback

A 2013 calendar written in the Cherokee syllabary includes the year 2013 written in Sequoyah’s numeric system, which was recently deciphered by the Cherokee Nation Translation Department. COURTESY PHOTO This handwritten copy of Sequoyah’s numeric system was created by Translation Specialist John Ross to show how the system works. COURTESY PHOTO
A 2013 calendar written in the Cherokee syllabary includes the year 2013 written in Sequoyah’s numeric system, which was recently deciphered by the Cherokee Nation Translation Department. COURTESY PHOTO
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Interim Executive Editor – @cp_wchavez
11/09/2012 08:42 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A visit by linguist Michael Everson of Dublin, Ireland, in September set in motion an effort to revisit and study Cherokee linguist Sequoyah’s numeric system.

During his visit, Everson met with Cherokee linguists and other language specialists to discuss making a font for Sequoyah’s numeric system for printing and computers, Cherokee Nation Translation Specialist John Ross said.

Everson told Ross and other translators that a system would have to be created before a font could be made. Following Everson’s visit, Ross studied Sequoyah’s numeric system and figured it out in less than two days.
“If somebody really looked at it, it’s simple,” Ross said.

Like he did when matching sounds spoken in the Cherokee language with symbols, Sequoyah created unique, single symbols for numbers 1 through 19 and numbers 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100. So to create the number 31 the symbol for 30 and 1 would be used together. To create the number 500 the symbol for 5 and 100 would be used together.

Ross created a symbol for 0 and for 1 billion and 1 trillion. Sequoyah’s system enabled users to create numerals up to 1 million.

The Cherokee Language Consortium, comprised of Cherokee speakers from the CN, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the United Keetoowah Band, agreed in October to use Sequoyah’s numeric system as he wrote it and to add the symbols Ross created.

“They thought it was pretty neat,” Ross said.

Ross said the only reason he found as to why Sequoyah’s numeric system, created in 1830 in Indian Territory, was never used by the tribe is that some people thought the system was too complicated.

“Really, if you look at it, it’s a shortcut. You don’t have to add all those numbers for a million. Like for a billion, you just have those (three) symbols instead of all those zeros,” he said.

CN Language Technologist Joseph Erb said he believes because Cherokees were already trading with the French, Spanish and British when the system was invented, Arabic numbers were used instead of Sequoyah’s system.

The way that Cherokees count is how Sequoyah built his system, Erb said.

“So, it makes more sense in Cherokee. It’s a neat system, it’s a very Cherokee system, and it’s really nice the translation team made sure to figure out how it works,” he said.

Sequoyah’s numbers have been added to the 2013 Cherokee calendar. Another use for the numeric system would be to teach it to the Cherokee Language Immersion School students, Ross said.

Ultimately, the goal for Erb and the language technology staff is to turn the numeric system into fonts, a “slow process,” Erb said, possibly taking two years before the system appears on smart phones and computer systems.

“It (numeric system) has to be in the Unicode system, so what will have to happen is we’ll have to figure out how the numbering system works, and then we’ll have to have a paper written for it to be encoded into the Unicode system,” he said.

Unicode enables people around the world to use computers in any language. The Cherokee numeric system would have to be turned into a code that computers could read and analyze so the proper Cherokee font for 12, for instance, is displayed.

After that is done, the coded language must go before the international Unicode Consortium for approval. If the consortium approves the code, it’s up to computer companies to adopt the new code, Erb said.

The tribe worked with Everson in the 1990s to put the Cherokee syllabary into code, which was adopted by the Unicode Consortium in 2000. His main area of expertise is with world writing systems, specifically in the representation of these systems in formats for computer and digital media.

“Only few people know how to do this type of work. It’s a very specialty type of work. Michael has done several hundred languages,” Erb said. “For us in language technology, it’s pretty exciting to see us reintroduce a numbering system, and it will be easy to use. Our goal is to make it accessible to everybody.”

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Culture

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/05/2016 04:00 PM
MARIETTA, Ga. – The Cherokee Garden at Green Meadows Preserve, a Cobb County Park, was recently selected as a featured site for the 2016 Atlanta Science Festival. The Cherokee Garden is an interpretive site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail that showcases plants that the Cherokee used for medicine, food, shelter, weapons, tools, art and ceremonial purposes. Tony Harris, a Cherokee Nation citizen and vice president of the Georgia Trail of Tears, led the participants through the garden and explained the historic importance of the medicinal plants. The emphasis was on ethno-botany, the study of plants significant to an ethnic group, in this case the Cherokee. The participants not only had many questions about the medicinal plants but also about The Trail of Tears, Harris said. Emory University, Georgia Tech University, Georgia State University, Mercer University, Delta Airlines, UPS and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce support the Atlanta Science Festival. More than 45,000 people attended more than 140 events featured in the festival last year. At the end of the seven-day festival there was an Exploration Expo at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta attended by more than 17,000 people. The mission of the festival is to celebrate the integration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in people’s lives today. Harris said that the inclusion of the Cherokee Garden in the Atlanta Science Festival was an excellent opportunity to showcase the Cherokee knowledge of botany and their dependence upon medicinal plants for survival.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/04/2016 04:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – The Cherokee Heritage Center is presenting a series of cultural classes designed to preserve and promote traditional Cherokee art. The Saturday workshops will take place once a month and will provide a hands-on learning opportunity with traditional art forms. Registration is open for Cherokee National Treasure Tonia Weavel’s pucker toe moccasins class on May 7 and Cherokee Nation citizen Wade Blevins’ Southeastern iconography class on June 4. Both classes are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and cost $40 to participate with all materials being provided. Class sizes are limited so early registration is recommended. For more information or to RSVP, call 918-456-6007, ext. 6161 or email <a href="mailto: tonia-weavel@cherokee.org">tonia-weavel@cherokee.org</a>. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Dr.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/04/2016 08:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – When it comes to basketry, Cherokee Nation citizen Mike Dart has had an interest in the art since childhood. In his teen years, he learned to create baskets, and as an adult he’s won awards, his most recent coming at the 45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show. He said that award-winning basket is titled “The Burdens We Carry” and was inspired by a photo. “It was a traditional utilitarian burden basket, which a long time ago our ancestors wore those on their back, and they use those to carry items from one place to another and to store things in sometimes. They wore a tumpline around their shoulders, carried it on their backs,” he said. “I got the inspiration from a picture. I didn’t use a pattern. I just used this picture of a basket that was on the back of a Cherokee lady in North Carolina back in the early 1900s.” He said he’s been entering art shows ever since the Trial of Tears Art Show in 2006. “I didn’t win nothing that year. I didn’t win nothing for a couple of years, but I did sale both of my entries the first night of that show. That was very encouraging.” After a few years, he began winning, including first place in the 18th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show and Sale, second place in the 2015 Chickasaw Nation Artesian Art Festival and two third place awards in the 2015 Five Civilized Tribes Museum’s Art Under the Oaks Competitive Show. Dart said he became interested by watching his grandmother makes baskets. “My grandmother on my dad’s side wove baskets, and she built furniture out of willow and hickory and other native materials. The kinds of baskets that she made were not specifically Cherokee baskets. They were a little bit different, but I remember watching her whenever I was a young kid and just being fascinated how she would get that stuff to bend in these shapes,” he said. “Then, whenever I would try it, it would always break and I never could understand until after I got older and I realized that it was the water that keep it from breaking. And that’s just something that fascinated me that something as simple as water could keep something from breaking and keep it beautiful.” He said he learned to weave in 1993 while in a high school class taught by Cherokee National Treasure Shawna Morton Cain. “She taught basketry, had different people come in and teach pottery, mask making, other traditional arts,” he said. “Basketry, I just took to that really well, and it was something that I wanted to do because it was something that my grandma had done.” Dart said he makes contemporary baskets but recently delved into traditional Cherokee baskets, getting ideas from old photos. He said basketry has survived the years and he hopes it continues to prosper, especially with the younger generations. “Basketry, some people might argue with me, but I really feel like it is probably the oldest continuing art form that we have that has continued in some form non-stop since pre-contact. Other things have kind of weaned off and then people revived them but you know, basketry has continued somehow both in North Carolina and here in Oklahoma. It’s evolving, but it does continue,” he said. “There’s not very many young weavers weaving right now. Right now it’s flourishing here in Oklahoma, but here in another 20 years it could possibly be in serious danger.” Dart said to combat this he is offering to teach Cherokee youths age 13 to 24 to weave for free. “I would like to get a group of at least five to 10 together and we will, depending on where their location is, try to find a centralized location. I’d like their parents to be there and involved as well just to keep everything on the up and up,” he said. “It’s something I would really like to see young people take an interest in. I’m one of the youngest and I’m almost 40.” For more information, email <a href="mailto: gwyboi77@gmail.com">gwyboi77@gmail.com</a>. <strong>Best of category</strong> 18th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show: Contemporary Basketry 45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show: Basketry <strong>First place</strong> 18th annual Cherokee Homecoming Art Show 45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show <strong>Second place</strong> 2007 Five Civilized Tribes Museum’s Art Under the Oaks Competitive Show 43rd annual Trail of Tears Art Show 2015 Chickasaw Nation Artesian Art Festival <strong>Third place</strong> Second annual Cherokee National Holiday Art Show 2015 Five Civilized Tribes Museum’s Art Under the Oaks Competitive Show: Contemporary 2015 Five Civilized Tribes Museum’s Art Under the Oaks Competitive Show: Traditional
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Interim Executive Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/20/2016 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Remember the Removal Alumni Association hosted its first gathering on April 15 at Northeastern State University. The association is made up of cyclists who partook in past “Remember the Removal” rides that commemorate the removal of Cherokee people from their southeastern homelands. The rides are held annually in June and began in 1984 when 19 cyclists left Cherokee, North Carolina, and rode approximately 1,100 miles through six states to Oklahoma to bring attention to the 1838-39 removal and to get Trail of Tears routes marked. After a 25-year hiatus, the ride returned in 2009 and cyclists left from New Echota, Georgia, the former Cherokee Nation capital, to ride to Oklahoma. In 2011, cyclists from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians began joining CN cyclists to retrace the 950-mile northern route of the Trail of Tears. During the April 15 banquet, which the Oklahoma Trail of Tears Association sponsored, alumni riders shared a meal and visited. Alumni riders David Comingdeer, who rode in 2011, and Tress Lewis, who rode in the inaugural 1984 trip, spoke about their experiences and what the ride meant to them. Comingdeer said he spoke for himself and two of his children, who rode in 2011. “The main things I wanted to convey to the attendees today was the responsibility we have as individual Cherokee citizens to perpetuate our beliefs, our traditions and our history. The thing we have in common as riders is that we have a unique perspective on that route. We have a very unique perspective on the forced removal story. We have felt that trail beneath us,” he said. He said the ride pays respect to those who walked the trail and those who did not survive it. He said Cherokee people should ensure that this history is not forgotten and that it’s passed down in families. “I would also encourage young people to participate in this ride in the future and continue paying this tribute, which this is the most extraordinary way we can pay tribute to the people who perished on this route,” he said. Lewis said she wanted people to know that the 1984 group became family during its month-long ride. “I was a little backward and a little shy, and that trip, because it was a hard trip, it really pushed all of us, and we really had to come together as a team, work together and help each other. Because it pushed us we found out right away that we could be pushed...and that as long as we worked together and did become a family, we were strengthened,” Lewis said. “We became people we didn’t know we were. I am a natural leader. I don’t think I would have ever found that out had I not been on that trip. That’s amazing to me, the strength that’s in me that I didn’t know I had, and I think that’s true for all the riders on that trip.” Melissa Lewis, assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Duluth, presented the results of her study about the “Remember the Removal” ride and its effects on the riders from 1984 to 2015. She said she discovered 84 themes that riders from both groups, who rode 31 years apart, talked about. “They’re all amazing. I could write several books about the amazing accomplishments of these riders,” she said. “Some of the things that stick out for me the most are how this program not only taught the participants how to treat each other like family, how to help each other out, how to be there for each other, but it translated to their real lives.” She said by talking to the 1984 group she learned about “amazing changes” in the lives of the participants they attributed to the “Remember the Removal” program and its leadership component. “People were able to get into leadership positions in their jobs. Many of them decided to work for the (Cherokee) Nation. Many of them decided to work with Cherokee kids or Native American kids in particular, and they’re really strong members of their communities and strong members of their families.” National Trail of Tears Association President and Tribal Councilor Jack Baker attended the event to present awards to the 1984 riders. “I think the ‘Remember the Removal’ project is a very important project. We see the (19)84 riders, and they’ve been leaders in the Cherokee Nation,” Baker said. “That’s why I foresee, all of you that have been on the ride, that you will be coming back and giving back to the Cherokee Nation because it’s really a training in leadership and you understand what our ancestors went through and you understand what it is to be Cherokee, and therefore you are willing to give back to the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee people.” For more information about the alumni association, call Tennessee Loy at 918-864-6377 or email <a href="mailto: RtrAlumniAssociation@gmail.com">RtrAlumniAssociation@gmail.com</a>.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
04/19/2016 05:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – A group of filmmakers visited the Cherokee Heritage Center in early March to interview descendants, as well as those involved with the Cherokee language program, about Sequoyah, the creator of the Cherokee written language. Choctaw Nation citizen and filmmaker LeAnne Howe and James Fortier, Pic River Ojibway First Nation citizen and filmmaker, are co-producing the documentary on the life of Sequoyah. “So we’re all Indian working together to make this documentary film,” said Howe. “We’re all very excited to be here.” The working title for the film is “Searching for Sequoyah.” Those involved with the project said that with Sequoyah, there are just so many mysteries and that he is a fascinating subject. The documentary will include “modern-day Sequoyahs” who work daily at preserving and strengthening the Cherokee language. United Keetoowah Band citizen Sequoyah Guess spoke to the Cherokee Phoenix about the importance of the filmmakers reaching out to decedents. “It’s one of the few times that they have actually come to the families and asked these different questions, you know, about Sequoyah,” Guess, a Cherokee and descendent of Sequoyah, said. For more information regarding the project, email Jace Weaver at jweaver@uga.edu.
BY MARK DREADFULWATER
Multimedia Editor – @cp_mdreadfulwat
04/13/2016 02:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen and artist Troy Jackson won the 45th annual Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale grand prize during a reception and awards ceremony on April 8 at the Cherokee Heritage Center. “I entered in the sculpture category,” Jackson said. “My piece is titled ‘Building of a Nation.’ One of the things that inspired me…we’re at a time where our country is going to elect a new president. So I think sometimes of what it takes to build a nation and for a nation to survive.” Jackson has entered the show 10 years and this year marks the fourth time he has won the grand prize. He said the show is important for remembering Cherokee traditions while embracing the present. “Maybe we don’t necessarily live the way we did years ago, but we still need to pass it on to our children about the way things were so we never forget,” he said. “I think it’s also a good time for artists such as myself to be doing contemporary work because we can also be showing what is being done and how we live today.” The Trail of Tears Art Show is touted as the longest-running Native American art show in Oklahoma. It is open to any federally recognized tribal citizen. “It’s a special show because it’s juried,” CHC Curator Callie Chunestudy said. “We really try to pick the best of the best artists from the entire country and display their work and award them accordingly.” Chunestudy said there were 80 artists from 15 tribes with 144 art pieces entered and 130 being accepted. She said the awards total more than $15,000 in cash prizes each year. The Trail of Tears Art Show and Sale runs through May 7. <strong>Trail of Tears Art Show winners</strong> GRAND PRIZE – Troy Jackson, Cherokee Nation, “The Building of a Nation” Painting, First Place – Dan HorseChief, Cherokee Nation, “The Firecatcher” Sculpture, First Place – Matt Girty, Cherokee Nation, “Spring Forward Awohali” Basketry, First Place – Mike Dart, Cherokee Nation, “The Burdens We Carry” Pottery, First Place – Chase Earles, Caddo Nation, “Kahwis Kan Duck Pot” Trail of Tears, First Place – John “Walkabout” Owen, Cherokee Nation, “Leaving Grandoma on the Trail” Jewelry, First Place – Antonio Grant, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, “Joined Birds” Graphics, First Place – Diana Stanfill, Cherokee Nation, “Wes Studi” Miniature, First Place – Ronda Moss, Cherokee Nation, “Treasures Within Us” Bill Rabbit Legacy Award – Shan Goshorn, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, “The Fire Within” Emerging Artists, First Place – Sheila Brazil, Cherokee Nation, “A Guardian for the Journey” Betty Garner Elder Award – Bessie Russell, Cherokee National Treasure Awards for the Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition were also announced. The competition showcased work from Native youth in grade 6-12. <strong>Cherokee Art Market Youth Competition Show</strong> BEST OF SHOW – Cierra Fields, Cherokee Nation, “Chief’s Honoring Robe” Judges Choice, Grades 6-8 – Sydney Sawney, Cherokee Nation, “Across the Fire” Two Dimensional, First Place, Grades 6-8 – Jaedyn Poulick, Cherokee Nation, “Red Dressed Indian” Three Dimensional, First Place, Grades 6-8 – Tanner Williams, Cherokee Nation, “Shield of the Nation” Judges Choice, Grades 9-10 – Noah Wilson, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, “Dark Starry Night” Two Dimensional, First Place, Grades 9-10 – Kylee Osburn, Cherokee Nation, “Arabic Woman” Three Dimensional, First Place, Grades 9-10 – Trey Pruitt, Cherokee Nation, “Dagsi Wants to Play” Judges Choice, Grades 11-12 – Jana Yarborough, Cherokee Nation, “The Bird of Nature” Two Dimensional, First Place, Grades 11-12 – TeAnna Woodrome, Choctaw Nation, “Nuni” Three Dimensional, First Place, Grades 11-12 – Cierra Fields, Cherokee Nation, “Chief’s Honoring Robe”