HENRY INMAN, WIKIMEDIA COMMONS // PUBLIC DOMAIN
Sequoyah was one of the most influential figures in Cherokee history. He created the Cherokee Syllabary, a written form of the Cherokee language. The syllabary allowed literacy and printing to flourish in the Cherokee Nation in the early nineteenth century and remains in use today.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, the remarkable inventiveness of one Cherokee man, named Sequoyah, helped his people preserve their language and cultural traditions and remain united with each other amid the encroachments of Euro-American society. Working on his own over a twelve-year span, Sequoyah created a syllabary—a set of written symbols to represent each syllable in the spoken Cherokee language. This made it possible for the Cherokee to achieve mass literacy in a short period of time. Cherokee became one of the earliest indigenous American languages to have a functional written analogue.
Sequoyah was born in present-day Tennessee in the years preceding the American Revolution. He was afflicted by physical lameness that caused him to limp, and as a young man, he worked as a trader, an industry he learned from his mother. He later became a silversmith and a blacksmith. By the year 1809, he had spent considerable time thinking about the written forms of communication used by European Americans and the power of written language. He began considering how the Cherokee might devise a system of writing tailored to the sounds of their own language. Many of his fellow Cherokees disapproved of the idea of fixing words to paper, and some thought the practice was too close to witchcraft. Despite this disapproval, Sequoyah was determined to give the Cherokee language a written form.
During most of Sequoyah's lifetime, the Cherokee language was entirely oral. According to the Manataka American Indian Council, a written language may have existed centuries earlier, but the script was supposedly lost as the tribe journeyed east across the continent. Sometime around 1809, Sequoyah began working on a new system to put the Cherokee language back on the page. He believed that, by inventing an alphabet, the Cherokee could share and save the stories that made their way of life unique.
At first, some Cherokee disliked Sequoyah’s idea. White people were encroaching further on their land and culture, and they were resistant to anything that resembled assimilation. Some skeptics saw Sequoyah’s attempts to create a written language as just another example of the tribe becoming more like the oncoming white settlers—in other words, another example of the tribe losing a grip on its culture and autonomy.
Sequoyah, however, saw it differently: Rather than destroy his culture, he saw the written word as a way to save it. According to Britannica, he became convinced that the secret of white people's growing power was directly tied to their use of written language, which he believed was far more effective than collective memories or word-of-mouth. In the wordsof Sequoyah, "The white man is no magician." If they could do it, so could he.
Unfortunately, the War of 1812 forced him to put his plans to develop a written Cherokee language on hold. Sequoyah volunteered to fight against the Red Stick Creeks during the war and saw action at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in present-day Alabama. Afterwards, he settled in Willstown (present-day Fort Payne, Alabama) and devoted himself to the task of converting the Cherokee language into written form.
Sequoyah was monolingual—he spoke only his mother tongue, Cherokee—and thus did not know how to read or write in any language. Despite this, he had an intuitive grasp of the funciton and significance written communication could assume among people who had mastered the skill. His first approach was to draw a visual symbol for every word in the language—a logographic or pictographic approach. Before long, he realized this task would be overwhelming. Instead, he began listening more carefully to Cherokee speech, studying the sound patterns that formed words. He heard vowels and consonants and discerned many variations, finally isolating about eighty-five distinct syllables. He completed the syllabary by assigning each sound a symbol, using a printed Christian Bible for examples of how letters could be shaped.
Sequoyah became further convinced of this in 1813, after he helped the U.S Army fight the Creek War in Georgia. For months, he watched soldiers send letters to their families and saw war officers deliver important commands in written form. He found the capability to communicate across space and time profoundly important.
Sequoyah's first attempt to develop a written language, however, was relatively crude by comparison. He tried to invent a logographic system, designing a unique character for every word, but quickly realized he was creating too much unnecessary work for himself. (According to historian April Summit's book, Sequoyah and the Invention of the Cherokee Alphabet, his wife may have attempted to burn an early version of his alphabet, calling it witchcraft.) So Sequoyah started anew, this time constructing his language from letters he found in the Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic alphabets, as well as with some Arabic numerals.
Sequoyah became more reclusive and obsessive, spending hour upon hour working on his alphabet. According to the official website of the Cherokee Nation, people outside his family began whispering that he was meddling with sorcery. By 1821, Sequoyah was too busy to pay the gossip any mind: He was teaching his six-year-old daughter, Ayokeh, how to use the system.
As one story goes, Sequoyah was eventually charged with witchcraft and brought to trial before a town chief, who tested Sequoyah’s claims by separating him and his daughter and asking them to communicate through their so-called writing system. By the trial’s end, everybody involved was convinced that Sequoyah was telling the truth—the symbols truly were a distillation of Cherokee speech. Rather than punish Sequoyah, the officials asked him a question: Can you teach us how to read?
Once accepted by the Cherokee, Sequoyah’s 86 character alphabet—which is technically called a syllabary—was widely studied. Within just a few years, thousands of people would learn how to read and write, with many Cherokee communities becoming more literate than the surrounding white populations. It wasn’t long before the Cherokee language began appearing in books and newspapers: First published in 1828, The Cherokee Phoenix was the first Native American newspaper printed in the United States.
Sam Houston, the eventual governor of Texas, admired Sequoyah's achievement and reportedly told him, “Your invention of the alphabet is worth more to your people than two bags full of gold in the hands of every Cherokee." Today, while the Cherokee language is now considered endangered by UNESCO, Sequoyah's system remains a landmark innovation—and a source of hope for the future.
Now for the rest of the story:
Imagine a large tree. No, let’s try this again. Imagine a large tree. Now imagine this tree as a branch, not a tree, attached to another much larger tree. Now imagine that much larger tree. That is how the giant sequoia do.
The giant sequoia is named after Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary. Giant sequoia are really big trees, in fact the very largest trees on Earth and the oldest living thing on earth, some more than 3,000 years old!
A great tree, named after a great Man!
article by Mario Seiglie
The recent movie Noah presents a horribly distorted view of one of the Bible's great heroes of faith. What's the true story that you may have never heard or considered? Let's look at seven little-known facts about Noah that can change our lives for good!
What does the story of Noah have to do with us?
Years ago, Paul Harvey, a famous U.S. radio commentator, ended his talks with the words, "And now you know the rest of the story." He had just given a side of the news or a personality or historical event that was not well known.
Recently the movie Noah has been in the news. The film has a big-name director, popular leading actors and lots of drama to draw viewers into the theaters. Studios invested millions in hopes that the movie would become a big Hollywood hit.
Reviews have been highly negative in terms of biblical accuracy. Moreover, the biblical story has been grossly distorted with Gnostic and other arcane elements and made into a huge Hollywood melodrama.
Many fictional parts have been added, especially the many scenes with mythical rock creatures (supposedly fallen angels) who actually build the ark (with wood from a miraculously grown instant forest) and save Noah from a small army that tries to capture the ark. Further distorting the story, Noah is portrayed as an angry, tormented and murderous man, in complete contradiction of the Bible's description of him as a righteous and godly person.
Perhaps the only redeeming value of the movie would be if people are motivated to read the Bible for themselves, recognize actual parallels between Noah's and today's age, wake up from their spiritual lethargy and turn to God.
As the latest fad, the movie Noah will come and go. But more important is this question: What does the story of the real Noah have to do with us? Surprisingly, it can teach us a great deal. Let's look at seven little-known facts about Noah that can change our lives for good!
1. Noah "walked with God." Read the article here>>>>
By Bob Barney from SOURCE
In our second story in the new topic, The Hidden Meaning in many song, movies and books, we come to Amazing Grace. That so-called "Sunday" gospel classic. The story behind this song is truly amazing indeed.
Many are probably not familar with the song's history. But the Rest of the story behind this tune that was written almost two and a half centuries ago in 1772, by an Englishman named John Newton. Knowing the story of John Newton and the journey he went through before writing the hymn will help to understand the depth of his words and his gratefulness for God's truly amazing grace.
Having lived through a rather unfortunate and troubled childhood (his mother passed away when he was just six years old), Newton spent years fighting against authority, going so far as trying to desert the Royal Navy in his twenties. Later, abandoned by his crew in West Africa, he was forced to be a slave to a slave trader but was eventually rescued. On the return voyage to England, a severe storm hit and almost sank the ship, prompting Newton to begin his spiritual conversion as he cried out to God to save them from the storm.
Ironically, upon his return to England, Newton became a slave ship master, a profession in which he served for several years. Bringing slaves from Africa to England over multiple trips, he admitted to sometimes treating the slaves abhorrently. In 1754, after becoming violently ill on a sea voyage, Newton abandoned the slave trade, and seafaring, altogether, wholeheartedly devoting his life to God's service.
He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1764 and became quite popular as a preacher and hymn writer, penning some 280 hymns, among them the great "Amazing Grace," which first appeared in the Olney Hymns, printed by Newton and poet/fellow writer William Cowper. It was later set to the popular tune NEW BRITAIN in 1835 by William Walker.
In later years, Newton fought alongside William Wilberforce, leader of the parliamentary campaign to abolish the African slave trade. He described the horrors of the slave trade in a tract he wrote supporting the campaign and lived to see the British passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807.
And now, we see how lyrics like:
I once was lost,
but now am found,
but now I see.
Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come.
'Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
carry a much deeper meaning than a sinner's mere gratitude. Close to death at various times and blind to reality at others, Newton would most assuredly not have written "Amazing Grace" if not for his tumultuous past. And many of us would then be without these lovely words that so aptly describe our own relationship with Christ and our reliance on God's grace in our lives:
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Those who have read Harriet Beecher Stowe's classic African American novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, may remember that Tom sings three verses of "Amazing Grace," including one verse not written by Newton, which is now traditionally sung as the final verse:
When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun.
A movie, "Newton's Grace" tells the story of the man behind the poem, and below a representation of that beautiful poem as a song.....
When I study history, I am often amazed to discover the plain truth about so many people and places we think we know about, only to find what we have learned is often wrong, or spun into some propaganda ploy. I am a historian. I have a minor degree in History, and have read and studied history since I was a boy of 7! I used to read the World Book Encyclopedia for fun! Once in a while, I learn about some little known fact or person that has actually had a great deal in how we live today, yet we have no idea about.
Today, I came across Matthew Fontaine Maury (January 14, 1806 – February 1, 1873), United States Navy, was an American astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, and educator. Bet you never heard of him, I know I didn't... But here is the rest of HIS STORY and what it means to you. Matthew Fontaine Maury's grandfather (the Reverend James Maury) was an inspiring teacher to a future U.S. president, Thomas Jefferson.
Which Slave Sailed Himself to Freedom?
Just before dawn on May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls and a crew composed of fellow slaves, in the absence of the white captain and his two mates, slipped a cotton steamer off the dock, picked up family members at a rendezvous point, then slowly navigated their way through the harbor. Smalls, doubling as the captain, even donning the captain’s wide-brimmed straw hat to help to hide his face, responded with the proper coded signals at two Confederate checkpoints, including at Fort Sumter itself, and other defense positions. Cleared, Smalls sailed into the open seas. Once outside of Confederate waters, he had his crew raise a white flag and surrendered his ship to the blockading Union fleet.
In fewer than four hours, Robert Smalls had done something unimaginable: In the midst of the Civil War, this black male slave had commandeered a heavily armed Confederate ship and delivered its 17 black passengers (nine men, five women and three children) from slavery to freedom.
Sailing From Slavery to Freedom
Robert Smalls, S.C. M.C. Born in Beaufort, SC, April 1839. (Library of Congress, prints and photographs division).
After two weeks of supplying various island points, the Planter returns to the Charleston docks by nightfall. It is due to go out again the next morning and so is heavily armed, including approximately 200 rounds of ammunition, a 32-pound pivot gun, a 24-pound howitzer and four other guns, among them one that had been dented in the original attack on Sumter. In between drop-offs, the three white officers on board (Capt. C.J. Relyea, pilot Samuel H. Smith and engineer Zerich Pitcher) make the fateful decision to disembark for the night — either for a party or to visit family — leaving the crew’s eight slave members behind. If caught, Capt. Relyea could face court-martial — that’s how much he trusts them.
At the top of the list is Robert Smalls, a 22-year-old mulatto slave who’s been sailing these waters since he was a teenager: intelligent and resourceful, defiant with compassion, an expert navigator with a family yearning to be free. According to the 1883 Naval Committee report, Smalls serves as the ship’s “virtual pilot,”but because only whites can rank, he is slotted as “wheelman.” Smalls not only acts the part; he looks it, as well. He is often teased about his resemblance to Capt. Relyea: Is it his skin, his frame or both? The true joke, though, is Smalls’ to spring, for what none of the officers know is that he has been planning for this moment for weeks and is willing to use every weapon on board to see it through.