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
Senior Reporter – @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
09/23/2016 10:00 AM
VINITA, Okla. – Enjoy a day of traditional Cherokee art, music and more at the Eastern Trails Museum on Sept. 24. Cherokee Day, featuring live music and cultural demonstrations from Cherokee National Treasures, runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The special event celebrates the opening of a new exhibit at the museum that pays tribute to Cherokee influence throughout Craig County. “This represents a great opportunity to share the history and heritage of the Cherokee Nation,” Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “Eastern Trails Museum is a good partner with the tribe as we continue our ongoing educational efforts. Our Cherokee artisans and historians ensure our unique traditions remain alive and relevant for future generations.” Cherokee Day is a family-friendly event and is free to attend. Cultural demonstrations include basketry, loom weaving, buffalo grass dolls, sculptures, ceramics and traditional hunting bows. The Eastern Trails Museum is located at 215 W. Illinois Ave. For more information about the museum, visit www.EasternTrailsMuseum.com. For more information about Cherokee culture and Cherokee Nation historical attractions, visit www.VisitCherokeeNation.com.
BY STAFF REPORTS
09/16/2016 04:00 PM
CATOOSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Art Market is set to return to Oct. 8-9 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. The 11th annual event has grown into one of the finest Native American art markets in the country, featuring more than 150 elite Native American artists. More than 50 tribes are represented at the event that features artwork available for purchase. Pieces include beadwork, pottery, painting, basketry, sculptures and textiles. As part of the two-day event, there will be cultural demonstrations open to the public from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Cultural demonstrations include jewelry, stamp work technique, katsina doll making, pottery, painting, basket weaving and music. An opening reception will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 7 in The Sky Room to welcome artists and guests. The artists will compete for $75,000 in overall prize money awarded across 25 categories. The public is welcome to attend the awards reception for $25 per person. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door. Best of Show for the 10th annual Cherokee Art Market was awarded to Blackfeet Nation citizen Jackie Larson Bread and Northern Arapaho citizen Ken Williams for the beadwork entry “Fit for An Arapaho/Blackfeet Dandy.” The Cherokee Art Market will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Sequoyah Convention Center at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa. Admission is $5 per person. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.cherokeeartmarket.com" target="_blank">www.cherokeeartmarket.com</a>. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa is located off Interstate 44 at exit 240. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com" target="_blank">www.hardrockcasinotulsa.com</a> or call 1-800-760-6700.
BY ROGER GRAHAM
Media Specialist – @cp_rgraham
09/14/2016 08:30 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – On Sept. 3, the annual Cherokee National Holiday’s Jason Christie Fishing Day attracted kids of all ages to the stocked, man-made pond east of the Cherokee Nation Complex for the “catch & release derby.” Tom Elkins, CN Environmental Programs administrator and event coordinator, said it seems as though the event gets bigger and better each year. “It amazed me, but we gave away all 600 poles, so there were over 600 kids attending,” he said. At one time, officials said the children were shoulder-to-shoulder around the pond. “I don’t know if it was the biggest (attendance) because we purposefully don’t track that, but I saw a young boy with a 3-pound channel cat(fish) in his hands,” Christie, a CN citizen and professional angler, said. He added that the event doubled the amount of fishing gear given out from the 2015 event. “The main goal to this is to introduce kids to fishing,” he said. According to his online biography, Christie has competed in local and regional tournaments. He started his tournament career fishing with various partners, including his uncles and his dad and won team tournaments. He also fished individually in pro-am events that proved to be successful and helped build his confidence as a professional angler. His big break came 2007 when he won a Stren Series event on Lake of the Ozarks in Osage Beach, Missouri. In the past five years, he has eight wins on a national level.
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
09/12/2016 12:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Nearly 100 people including shooters and their families attended the traditional cornstalk shoot during Cherokee National Holiday over the Labor Day weekend. Cornstalk shoot coordinator Richard Fields said he felt the event went great in all divisions and was happy with the turnout. “Cornstalk shoot went good, it went very good. We ran around late both days, but it was worth it. Good turnout for all divisions - kids, adults, traditional, recurve and primitive. It turned out good,” Fields said. On Sept. 3, he said there were about 40 shooters and around 20 the next day, not including those who shot during the Traditional Games on Sept. 4, which comprised of people who qualified to shoot from several community events leading up to the Cherokee National Holiday. This year was also the first time the event has given prizes for women’s traditional cornstalk shooting. “It worked out good. I’d like to see more of everybody – kids, men and women. That’s why we put the prizes in for the women. So we could start their own division. This is our first time we tried it and it looked like it was a success,” Fields said. Winning the women’s division was Gina Foreman. Andra Freeman took second place, while her sister Pogie Freeman took third. And in the men’s division, Ed Deerinwater took third place, George Lowe took second place and Chris Foreman won first place. Skiatook resident and Cherokee Nation citizen Mary Aboud said she enjoyed the traditional games and was glad to see so many people take part. “The cornstalk shoot and getting to see women and kids involved in it and into traditional games, it’s just been really cool to see,” she said. “I’d like to see more women come out and get involved into the games, into the cornstalk shoot, maybe even hatchet throwing. It looks like a lot of fun.” Fields said next year he hopes to see more prizes for the winners. “I really liked it though. Plus we found a new home. The guy who runs this (Joe Thornton Archery Range), Brian Jackson, said we (Cornstalk Society) got a new home so this is our home now,” he said. The Cornstalk Society shoots every third Saturday, and Fields said everyone is welcome to attend.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
09/12/2016 08:45 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – More than 150 men, women and children played in the stickball exhibition games on Sept. 3 at Sequoyah Schools’ Thompson Field as part of the 64th annual Cherokee National Holiday. Three stickball games – men’s, women’s and children – were held and those who signed up received a red or black T-shirt and were divided into two teams, East and West. All participants, male and female, were required to use stickball sticks to catch and throw the ball. Marcus Thompson, stickball exhibition coordinator, said red and black represent the colors for two of the seven directions in Cherokee culture, red for east and black for west. Children ages 17 years and younger played in a children’s exhibition game. There were 62 participants. They played four 10-minute quarters and no tackling was allowed. The West team won, 9-2. This was the second year for a children’s game at the tribe’s holiday. “For us to get these little ones out here playing like that…we need somebody to follow up and keep it going as we get older. That way, we’ll get more of them coming out and trying to play, and wanting to play stickball. (We) try to let them know why they’re playing it and where it came from,” Thompson said. Twenty-three women took the field for their game. They played in a 70-yard stretch because of the low turnout. Full-contact play was allowed. The women played two 12-minute quarters and one eight-minute quarter. Because of a “run-rule,” the game was nearly called because the West team led by a large margin at the end of the third quarter. The West team eventually won, 11-2. This is the third year in a row for a women’s exhibition stickball game. Lastly, the men took the field with 70 players. They played in a 100-yard stretch on the field and were allowed full contact. They played four 15-minute quarters, with a few minor injuries such as cuts and bruises. The East team won, 7 to 2. “I think it’s a great activity for our culture and especially for Cherokee Nation to host an event like this because stickball means a lot to our communities and to our stomp grounds,” Tonya Wapskineh, Diabetes Prevention coordinator and event volunteer coordinator, said. “This is how they stay physically active and with what I do in my department, with the Diabetes Prevention, this is really good to see a lot of people out here being active.”
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
09/09/2016 03:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Family and Elderly Services provided a place for elders to come and participate in different activities during Elders Fun Day on Sept. 3 at the 64th annual Cherokee National Holiday. Held at the Place Where They Play gymnasium on the Sequoyah High School campus, elders 50 years and older were able to stop by from noon to 5 p.m. to cool off, eat a free meal, play bingo and participate in a “crazy hat” contest and talent show. Prizes for the games and contests included cookware, coffee pots, lawn chairs, a 32-inch television and food baskets. “I just enjoy the elders and all the activities that they do. I just really like it,” Margaret Tyner, Elders Fun Day volunteer, said. Elders Fun Day has been a part of the Cherokee National Holiday for about 10 years. “When we started, we started in the Tribal Complex in the conference room and it started out as a cooling station for elderly people,” Lisa James, event coordinator and Manager of Family and Elderly Services, said. “If their family came and brought them and they needed a place to sit while they went out and did some activities, they brought them in there.” From the start in that conference room, Elders Fun Day expanded as coordinators realized more and more elders showed up and stayed longer. It was moved to the Community Ballroom and eventually to the gymnasium where around 275 elders participated in the event this year. “It’s always been something close to my heart to help elders…a whole lot of us were raised by our grandparents or great-grandparents and so, I like to try to make life for them as happy as it possibly can be,” James said. “I’ve got great staff in elder services. They care about people. They work hard.”