The history of some of the people of the Cherokee Nation is preserved at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum.


(WBIR-Vonore) The history of some of the people of the Cherokee Nation is preserved at a museum here in East Tennessee. It is expanding and improving to teach visitors about about a man who invented a written language.

"Sequoyah was born here in the Cherokee Overhill around 1776," Charlie Rhodarmer explained.

He is the Director of the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore that preserves the history of Sequoyah and his legacy of a system for reading and writing.

"Sequoyah Birthplace Museum is owned and operated by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians in Cherokee North Carolina," he said.

It relies on grants and donations to operate and to expand and improve the grounds, exhibits, and buildings.

The structures help tell Sequoyah's story.

They include a framework for a replica of the Choata Council house or town house where people gathered. The amphitheater is a place for educational programs along with concerts and weddings to support the museum. The cabin under construction on the grounds will represent a home like the one Sequoyah may have lived in.

Inside the museum the exhibit focuses on the archeology of the time. There's plans to change that to focus more on Sequoyah's life.

"What's happening to him and the creation of the syllabary, to focus on the Cherokee people during Sequoyah's lifetime, 1776 to 1843," Rhodarmer said.

Sequoyah was a Cherokee Indian who could not read or write in any language but perfected a system for doing just that for his people.

"The Cherokee had their spoken language but they had no way of writing it down and being able to read it," he said.

About 200 years ago he made an announcement in his blacksmith shop much like the one on the grounds of the museum. He said he would develop a written Cherokee language. It took him a dozen years.

"He starts listening to his family, his friends, his neighbors, and he pulls these little repetitive sounds he hears within the Cherokee language and gives them symbols. So it's not actually the Cherokee alphabet, it's the Cherokee syllabary," Rhodarmer explained.

The man born in East Tennessee reduced the thousands of Cherokee expressions to 85 symbols representing sounds.

"Our mission is to tell the story of Sequoyah, his accomplishments in creating the writing system, but also to tell the Overhill Cherokee story as well," he said.

He was a man who helped pass down the Cherokee culture in writing. The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum preserves his contributions and accomplishments.