TAHLEQUAH – On Feb. 21, 1828, the first issue of the Cherokee Phoenix was published in New Echota, Georgia. It was the first Native American newspaper in the country and was printed in both English and Cherokee utilizing Sequoyah’s syllabary.
Editor Elias Boudinot gave the paper the name Cherokee Phoenix after the phoenix bird of Egyptian mythology that consumes itself in fire every 500 years and is reborn from the ashes. Boudinot had learned about the phoenix during his education in Cornwall, Connecticut. Over time, the name has proven to be fitting as the Cherokee Phoenix has been reborn numerous times.
Boudinot raised money to start the paper with help from his brother, Stand Watie; cousin, John Ridge; and Elijah Hicks, who were all tribal leaders at that time. As popularity of the Phoenix increased among Cherokee people, Boudinot noticed other tribes were facing similar issues, so he requested a name change to the Cherokee Phoenix and Indian Advocate in 1829.