Se-Quo-Yah ~ George
In the year 1768 a German peddler, named George Gist, left the settlement of
Ebenezer, on the lower Savannah, and entered the Cherokee Nation by the northern
mountains of Georgia. He had two pack-horses laden with the petty merchandise
known to the Indian trade. At that time Captain Stewart was the British
Superintendent of the Indians in that region. Besides his other duties, he
claimed the right to regulate and license such traffic. It was an old bone of
contention. A few years before, the Governor and Council of the colony of
Georgia claimed the sole power of such privilege and jurisdiction. Still
earlier, the colonial authorities of South Carolina assumed it. Traders from
Virginia, even, found it necessary to go round by Carolina and Georgia, and to
procure licenses. Augusta was the great centre of this commerce, which in those
days was more extensive than would be now believed. Flatboats, barges, and
pirogues floated the bales of pelts to tide-water. Above Augusta, trains of
pack-horses, sometimes numbering one hundred, gathered in the furs, and carried
goods to and from remote regions. The trader immediately in connection with the
Indian hunter expected to make one thousand per cent. The wholesale dealer made
several hundred. The governors, councilors, and superintendents made all they
could. It could scarcely be called legitimate commerce. It was a grab game.
Our Dutch friend Gist was, correctly speaking, a
contrabandist. He had too little influence or money to procure a license,
and too much enterprise to refrain because he lacked it. He belonged to a
class more numerous than respectable, although it would be a good deal to
say that there was any virtue in yielding to these petty exactions. It was
a mere question of confiscation, or robbery, without redress, by the
Indians. He risked it. With traders, at that time, it was customary to
take an Indian wife. She was expected to furnish the eatables, as well as
cook them. By the law of many Indian tribes property and the control of
the family go with the mother. The husband never belongs to the same
family connection, rarely to the same community or town even, and often
not even to the tribe. He is a sort of barnacle, taken in on his wife's
account. To the adventurer, like a trader, this adoption gave a sort of
legal status or protection. Gist either understood this before he started
on his enterprise, or learned it very speedily after. Of the Cherokee
tongue he knew positively nothing. He had a smattering of very broken
English. Somehow or other he managed to induce a Cherokee girl to become
This woman belonged to a family long respectable in the
Cherokee Nation. It is customary for those ignorant of the Indian social
polity to speak of all prominent Indians as "chiefs." Her family had no
pretension to chieftaincy, but was prominent and influential; some of her
brothers were afterward members of the Council. She could not speak
English; but, in common with many Cherokees of even that early date, had a
small proportion of English blood in her veins. The Cherokee woman,
married or single, owns her property, consisting chiefly of cattle, in her
own right. A wealthy Cherokee or Creek, when a son or daughter is born to
him, marks so many young cattle in a new brand, and these become, with
their increase, the child's property. Whether her cattle constituted any
portion of the temptation, I can not say. At any rate, the girl, who had
much of the beauty of her race, became the wife of the German peddler.
Of George Gist's married life we have little recorded.
It was of very short duration. He converted his merchandise into furs, and
did not make more than one or two trips. With him it had merely been cheap
protection and board. We might denounce him as a low adventurer if we did
not remember that he was the father of one of the most remarkable men who
ever appeared on the continent. Long before that son was born he gathered
together his effects, went the way of all peddlers, and never was heard of
He left behind him in the Cherokee Nation a woman of no
common energy, who through a long life was true to him she still believed
to be her husband. The deserted mother called her babe "Se-quo- yah," in
the poetical language of her race. His fellow-clansmen as he grew up gave
him, as an English one, the name of his father, or something sounding like
it. No truer mother ever lived and cared for her child. She reared him
with the most watchful tenderness. With her own hands she cleared a little
field and cultivated it, and carried her babe while she drove up her cows
and milked them.
His early boyhood was laid in the troublous times
of the war of the Revolution, yet its havoc cast no deeper shadows in the
As he grew older he showed a different temper from most
Indian children. He lived alone with his mother, and had no old man to
teach him the use of the bow, or indoctrinate him in the religion and
morals of an ancient but perishing people. He would wander alone in the
forest, and showed an early mechanical genius in carving with his knife
many objects from pieces of wood. He employed his boyish leisure in
building houses in the forest. As he grew older these mechanical pursuits
took a more useful shape. The average native American is taught as a
question of self- respect to despise female pursuits. To be made a "woman"
is the greatest degradation of a warrior.
Se-quo-yah first exercised his genius in making an
improved kind of wooden milk-pans and skimmers for his mother. Then he
built her a milk-house, with all suitable conveniences, on one of those
grand springs that gurgle from the mountains of the old Cherokee Nation.
As a climax, he even helped her to milk her cows; and he cleared additions
to her fields, and worked on them with her. She contrived to get a petty
stock of goods, and traded with her countrymen. She taught Se-quo-yah to
be a good judge of furs. He would go on expeditions with the hunters, and
would select such skins as he wanted for his mother before they returned.
In his boyish days the buffalo still lingered in the valleys of the Ohio
and Tennessee. On the one side the French sought them. On the other were
the English and Spaniards. These he visited with small pack-horse trains
for his mother.
For the first hundred years the European colonies were
of traders rather than agriculturists. Besides the fur trade, rearing
horses and cattle occupied their attention. The Indians east of the
Mississippi, and lying between the Appalachian Mountains and the Gulf, had
been agriculturists and fishermen. Buccaneers, pirates, and even the
regular navies or merchant ships of Europe, drove the natives from the
haunted coast. As they fell back, fur traders and merchants followed them
with professions of regard and extortionate prices. Articles of European
manufacture--knives, hatchets, needles, bright cloths, paints, guns,
powder--could only be bought with furs. The Indian mother sighed in her
hut for the beautiful things brought by the Europeans. The warrior of the
Southwest saw with terror the conquering Iroquois, armed with the dreaded
fire-arms of the stranger. When the bow was laid aside, or handed to the
boys of the tribe, the warriors became the abject slaves of traders. Guns
meant gunpowder and lead. These could only come from the white man. His
avarice guarded the steps alike to bear-meat and beaver-skins. Thus the
Indian became a wandering hunter, helpless and dependent. These hunters
traveled great distances, sometimes with a pack on their backs weighing
from thirty to fifty pounds. Until the middle of the eighteenth century
horses had not become very common among them, and the old Indian used to
laugh at the white man, so lazy that he could not walk. A consuming fire
was preying on the vitals of an ancient simple people. Unscrupulous
traders, who boasted that they made a thousand per cent, held them in the
most abject thrall. It has been carefully computed that these hunters
worked, on an average, for ten cents a day. The power of their old village
chiefs grow weaker. No longer the old men taught the boys their
traditions, morals, or religion. They had ceased to be pagans, without
The wearied hunter had fire-water given him as an
excitement to drown the cares common to white and red. Slowly the polity,
customs, industries, morals, religion, and character of the red race were
consumed in this terrible furnace of avarice. The foundations of our early
aristocracies were laid. Byrd, in his "History of the Dividing Line,"
tells us that a school of seventy- seven Indian children existed in 1720,
and that they could all read and write English; but adds, that the
jealousy of traders and land speculators, who feared it would interfere
with their business, caused it to be closed. Alas! this people had
encountered the iron nerve of Christianity, without reaping the fruit of
its intelligence or mercy.
Silver, although occasionally found among the North
American Indians, was very rare previous to the European conquest.
Afterward, among the commodities offered, were the broad silver pieces of
the Spaniards, and the old French and English silver coins. With the most
mobile spirit the Indian at once took them. He used them as he used his
shell-beads, for money and ornament. Native artificers were common in all
the tribes. The silver was beaten into rings, and broad ornamented silver
bands for the head. Handsome breast-plates were made of it; necklaces,
bells for the ankles, and rings for the toes.
It is not wonderful that Se-quo-yah's mechanical genius
led him into the highest branch of art known to his people, and that he
became their greatest silversmith. His articles of silverware excelled all
similar manufactures among his countrymen.
He next conceived the idea of becoming a blacksmith. He
visited the shops of white men from time to time. He never asked to be
taught the trade. He had eyes in his head, and hands; and when he bought
the necessary material and went to work, it is characteristic that his
first performance was to make his bellows and his tools; and those who
afterward saw them told me they were very well made.
Se-quo-yah was now in comparatively easy circumstances.
Besides his cattle, his store, and his farm, he was a blacksmith and a
silversmith. In spite of all that has been alleged about Indian stupidity
and barbarity, his countrymen were proud of him. He was in danger of
shipwrecking on that fatal sunken reef to American character, popularity.
Hospitality is the ornament, and has been the ruin, of the aborigine. His
home, his store, or his shop, became the resort of his countrymen; there
they smoked and talked, and learned to drink together. Among the Cherokees
those who have are expected to be liberal to those who have not; and
whatever weaknesses he might possess, niggardliness or meanness was not
After he had grown to man's estate he learned to draw.
His sketches, at first rude, at last acquired considerable merit. He had
been taught no rules of perspective; but while his perspective differed
from that of a European, he did not ignore it, like the Chinese. He had
now a very comfortable hewed-log residence, well furnished with such
articles as were common with the better class of white settlers at that
time, many of them, however, made by himself.
Before he reached his thirty-fifth year he became
addicted to convivial habits to an extent that injured his business, and
began to cripple his resources. Unlike most of his race, however, he did
not become wildly excited when under the influence of liquor.
Se-quo-yah, who never saw his father, and never could
utter a word of the German tongue, still carried, deep in his nature, an
odd compound of Indian and German transcendentalism; essentially Indian in
opinion and prejudice, but German in instinct and thought. A little liquor
only mellowed him--it thawed away the last remnant of Indian reticence. He
talked with his associates upon all the knotty questions of law, art, and
religion. Indian Theism and Pantheism were measured against the Gospel as
taught by the land-seeking, fur-buying adventurers. A good class of
missionaries had, indeed, entered the Cherokee Nation; but the shrewd
Se-quo-yah, and the disciples this stoic taught among his mountains, had
just sense enough to weigh the good and the bad together, and strike an
impartial balance as the footing up for this new proselyting race.
It has been erroneously alleged that Se-quo-yah was a
believer in, or practiced, the old Indian religious rites. Christianity
had, indeed, done little more for him than to unsettle the pagan idea, but
it had done that.
It was some years after Se-quo-yah had learned to
present the bottle to his friends before he degenerated into a toper. His
natural industry shielded him, and would have saved him altogether but for
the vicious hospitality by which he was surrounded. With the acuteness
that came of his foreign stock, he learned to buy his liquor by the keg.
This species of economy is as dangerous to the red as to the white race.
The auditors who flocked to see and hear him were not likely to diminish
while the philosopher furnished both the dogmas and the whisky. Long and
deep debauches were often the consequence. Still it was not in the nature
of George Gist to be a wild, shouting drunkard. His mild, philosophic face
was kindled to deeper thought and warmer enthusiasm as they talked about
the problem of their race. All the great social questions were closely
analyzed by men who were fast becoming insensible to them. When he was too
far gone to play the mild, sedate philosopher, he began that monotonous
singing whose music carried him back to the days when the shadow of the
white man never darkened the forests, and the Indian canoe alone rippled
the tranquil waters.
Should this man be thus lost? He was aroused to his
danger by the relative to whom he owed so much. His temper was eminently
philosophic. He was, as he proved, capable of great effort and great
endurance. By an effort which few red or white men can or do make, he
shook off the habit, and his old nerve and old prosperity came back to
him. It was during the first few years of this century that he applied to
Charles Hicks, a half-breed, afterward principal chief of the nation, to
write his English name. Hicks, although educated after a fashion, made a
mistake in a very natural way. The real name of Se-quo-yah's father was
George Gist. It is now written by the family as it has long been
pronounced in the tribe when his English name is used--"Guest." Hicks,
remembering a word that sounded like it, wrote it--George Guess. It was a
"rough guess," but answered the purpose. The silversmith was as ignorant
of English as he was of any written language. Being a fine workman, he
made a steel die, a facsimile of the name written by Hicks. With this he
put his "trade mark" on his silver-ware, and it is borne to this day on
many of these ancient pieces in the Cherokee nation.
Between 1809 and 1821, which latter was his fifty-second year, the great
work of his life was accomplished. The die, which was cut before the
former date, probably turned his active mind in the proper direction.
Schools and missions were being established. The power by which the white
man could talk on paper had been carefully noted and wondered at by many
savages, and was far too important a matter to have been overlooked by
such a man as Se- quo-yah. The rude hieroglyphics or pictoriographs of the
Indians were essentially different from all written language. These were
rude representations of events, the symbols being chiefly the totemic
devices of the tribes. A few general signs for war, death, travel, or
other common incidents, and strokes for numerals, represented days or
events as they were perpendicular or horizontal. Even the wampum belts
were little more than helps to memory, for while they undoubtedly tied up
the knots for years, like the ancient inhabitants of China and Japan,
still the meager record could only be read by the initiated, for the
Indians only intrusted their history and religion to their best and ablest
men. The general theory with many Indians was, that the written speech of
the white man was one of the mysterious gifts of the Great Spirit.
Se-quo-yah boldly avowed it to be a mere ingenious contrivance that the
red man could master, if he would try.
Repeated discussion on this point at length fully turned his thoughts in
this new channel. He seems to have disdained the acquirement of the
English language. Perhaps he suspected first what he was bound to know
before he completed his task, that the Cherokee language has certain
necessities and peculiarities of its own. It is almost impossible to write
Indian words and names correctly in English. The English alphabet has not
capacity for its expression. If ten white men sat down to write the word
an Indian uttered, the probabilities are that one half of them would write
them differently from the other half. It is this which has led to such
endless confusion in Indian dictionaries. For instance, we write the word
for the tribe Cherokee, and the letter R, or its sound, is scarcely used
in their language. Today a Cherokee always pronounces it Chalaque, the
pronunciation being between that and Shalakke. On these peculiarities it
is not the purpose of this article to enter, but hasten to George Gist,
brooding over a written language for his people.
His first essay was natural enough. He tried to invent symbols to
represent words. These he sometimes cut out of bark with his knife, but
generally wrote, or rather drew. With these symbols he would carry on a
conversation with a person in another apartment. As may be supposed, his
symbols multiplied fearfully and wonderfully. The Indian languages are
rich in their creative power. By using pieces of well-known words that
contain the prominent idea, double or compound words are freely made. This
has been called by writers treating this subject, the polysynthetic. It
is, in fact, a jumbling of sentences into words, by abbreviation, the
omitted parts of words being implied or understood. There is one important
fact which I will merely note here that is generally overlooked. These
compounded words, to a large extent, represent the intrusive or European
idea. The names the Indians gave many of the European things were mere
DEFINITIONS. Such as "Big Knives," etc. Occasionally they made a dash at
the French or English sounds, as in the word "Yengees" for English, which
has finally been corrupted in our language to Yankees.
Of course an attempt at fixed symbols for words was an unhappy experiment
in a language one prominent element of which is, the facility of making
words out of pieces of words, or compounded words. Besides this
difficulty, no language can be taught successfully by means of a
dictionary, until the human memory acquires more power. Three years of
hopeless struggle with the mighty debris of his symbols left him, although
in the main reticent, a mighty man of words. But his labors were not lost.
Through that heroic, unaided struggle he gained the first true glimpses
into the elements of language. It is a startling fact, that an uneducated
man, of a race we are pleased to call barbarians, attained in a few years,
without books or tutors, what was developed through several ages of
Phoenician, Egyptian, and Greek wisdom.
Se-quo-yah discovered that the language possessed certain musical sounds,
such as we call vowels, and dividing sounds, styled by us consonants. In
determining his vowels he varied during the progress of his discoveries,
but finally settled on the six--A, E, I, O, U, and a guttural vowel
sounding like U in UNG.
These had long and short sounds, with the exception of the guttural. He
next considered his consonant, or dividing sounds, and estimated the
number of combinations of these that would give all the sounds required to
make words in their language. He first adopted fifteen for the dividing
sounds, but settled on twelve primary, the G and K being one, and sounding
more like K than G, and D like T. These may be represented in English as
G, H, L, M, N, QU, T, DL or TL, TS, W, Y, Z.
It will be seen that if these twelve be multiplied by the six vowels, the
number of possible combinations or syllables would be seventy-two, and by
adding the vowel sounds, which maybe syllables, the number would be
seventy-eight. However, the guttural V, or sound of U in UNG, does not
appear as among the combinations, which make seventy-seven.
Still his work was not complete. The hissing sound of S entered into the
ramifications of so many sounds, as in STA, STU, SPA, SPE, that it would
have required a large addition to his alphabet to meet this demand. This
he simplified by using a distinct character for the S (OO), to be used in
such combinations. To provide for the varying sound G, K, he added a
symbol which has been written in English KA. As the syllable NA is liable
to be aspirated, he added symbols written NAH, and KNA. To have distinct
representatives for the combinations rising out of the different sounds of
D and T, he added symbols for TA, TE, TI, and another for DLA, thus TLA.
These completed the eighty-five characters of his alphabet, which was thus
an alphabet of syllables, and not of letters.
It was a subject of astonishment to scientific men that a language so
copious only embraced eighty-five syllables. This is chiefly accounted for
by the fact that every Cherokee syllable ends in a vocal or nasal sound,
and that there are no double consonants but those provided for the TL or
DL, and TS, and combinations of the hissing S, with a few consonants.
The fact is, that many of our combinations of consonants in the English
written language are artificial, and worse than worthless. To indicate by
a familiar illustration the syllabic character of the alphabet of
Se-quo-yah, I will take the name of William H. Seward, which was appended
to the Emancipation Proclamation of Mr. Lincoln, printed in Cherokee. It
was written thus: "O [wi] P[li] 4 [se] G [wa] 6 [te]," and might be
anglicized Will Sewate. As has been observed, there is no R in the
Cherokee language, written or spoken, and as for the middle initial of Mr.
Seward's name, H., there being, of course, no initial in a syllabic
alphabet, the translator, who probably did not know what it stood for, was
compelled to omit it. It was in the year 1821 that the American Cadmus
completed his alphabet.
As will be observed by examining the alphabet, which is on the table in
the engraving, he used many of the letters of the English alphabet, also
numerals. The fact was, that he came across an old English spelling-book
during his labors, and borrowed a great many of the symbols. Some he
reversed, or placed upside down; others he modified, or added to. He had
no idea of either their meaning or sound, in English, which is abundantly
evident from the use he made of them. As was eminently fitting, the first
scholar taught in the language was the daughter of Se-quo-yah. She, like
all the other Cherokees who tried it, learned it immediately. Having
completed it without the white man's hints or aid, he visited the agent,
Colonel Lowry, a gentleman of some intelligence, who only lived three
miles from him, and informed that gentleman of his invention. It is not
wonderful that the agent was skeptical, and suggested that the whole was a
mere act of memory, and that the symbols bore no relation to the language,
or its necessities. Like all other benefactors of the race, he had to
encounter a little of the ridicule of those who, being too ignorant to
comprehend, maintain their credit by sneering. The rapid progress of the
language among the people settled the matter, however. The astonishing
rapidity with which it is acquired has always been a wonder, and was the
first thing about it that struck the writer of this article. In my own
observation, Indian children will take one or two, at times several, years
to master the English printed and written language, but in a few days can
read and write in Cherokee. They do the latter, in fact, as soon as they
learn to shape letters. As soon as they master the alphabet they have got
rid of all the perplexing questions in orthography that puzzle the brains
of our children. Is it not too much to say that a child will learn in a
month, by the same effort, as thoroughly, in the language of Se-quo-yah,
that which in ours consumes the time of our children for at least two
There has been a great clamor for a universal language. We once had it, in
our learned world, in the Latin, in which books were locked up for the
scholars and dead to the world. Language is the handmaiden of thought, and
to be useful must be obedient to its changes as well as its elemental
characteristics. For the English of three hundred years ago we need a
glossary, and to carry down his immortal thoughts in their pristine vigor,
must have, every two hundred years, a Johnson to modernize a Shakspeare.
To probe the causes of the change of language, to ascertain why even a
WRITTEN language is mutable, to pick up this garment of thought and run
its threads back through all their vagaries to their origin and points of
divergence, is one of the grand tasks for the intellectual historian. He,
indeed, must give us the history of ideas, of which all art, including
language, is but the fructification. To say, therefore, that the alphabet
of Se-quo-yah is better adapted for his language than our alphabet is for
the English, would be to pay it a very wretched compliment.
George Gist received all honor from his countrymen. A short time after his
invention written communication was opened up by means of it with that
portion of the Cherokee Nation then in their new home west of the
Arkansas. Zealous in his work, he traveled many hundred miles to teach it
to them; and it is no reproach to their intellect to say that they
received it readily.
It has been said the Indians are besotted against all improvements. The
cordiality with which this was received is worthy of attention.
In 1823 the General Council of the Cherokee Nation voted a large silver
medal to George Gist as a mark of distinction for his discovery. On one
side were two pipes, the ancient symbol of Indian religion and law; on the
other a man's head. The medal had the following inscription in English,
also in, Cherokee in his own
"Presented to George Gist, by the General Council of the Cherokee Nation,
for his ingenuity in the invention of the Cherokee alphabet."
John Ross, acting as principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, sent it West
to Se-quo-yah, together with an elaborate address, the latter being at
that time in the new nation.
In 1828 Gist went to Washington city as a delegate from the Western
Cherokees. He was then in his fifty-ninth year. At that time the portrait
was taken, an engraving from which we present to our readers. He is
represented with a table containing his alphabet. The missionaries were
not slow to employ it. It was arranged with the Cherokee, and English
sounds and definitions. Rev. S.A. Worcester endeavored to get the outlines
of its grammar, and both he and Mr. Boudinot prepared vocabularies of it,
as did many others. In this way, by having more and better observers, we
know more of this language than many others, and affinities have been
traced between it and some others, supposed to be radically different,
which would have appeared in the case of some others, had they been as
fully or correctly written.
Besides the Scriptures, a very considerable number of books were printed
in it, and parts of several different newspapers existing from time to
time; also almanacs, songs, and psalms.
During the closing portion of his life, the home of Se-quo-yah was near
Brainerd, a mission station in the new nation. Like his countrymen, he was
driven an exile from his old home, from his fields, work-shops, and
orchards by the clear streams flowing from the mountains of Georgia. Is it
wonderful if such treatment should throw a sadder tinge on a disposition
otherwise mild, hopeful, and philosophic?
One of his sons is a very fair artist, using promiscuously pencil, pen,
chalk, or charcoal. He served, as a private soldier, in the Union army in
the late war, and there, in his quarters, made many sketches. His power of
caricaturing was very considerable. If a humorous picture of some officer
who had rendered himself obnoxious was found, chalked in unmistakable but
grotesque lineaments, on the commissary door, it was said, "It must have
been by the son of Se-quo-yah."
In his mature years, at Brainerd, although approaching seventy, the nerve
or fire of the old man was not dead. Some narrow-minded ecclesiastics,
because Gist would not go through the routine of a Christian profession
after the fashion they prescribed, have not scrupled to intimate that he
was a pagan, and grieved that the Bible was printed in the language he
gave. This arose simply from not comprehending him. They persisted in
considering him an ignorant savage, while he comprehended himself and
In his old days a new and deeper ambition seized him. He was not in the
habit of asking advice or assistance in his projects. In his journey to
the West, as well as to Washington, he had an opportunity of examining
different languages, of which, as far as lay in his power, he carefully
availed himself. His health had been somewhat affected by rheumatism, one
of the few inheritances he got from the old fur peddler of Ebenezer; but
the strong spirit was slow to break.
He formed a theory of certain relations in the language of the Indian
tribes, and conceived the idea of writing a book on the points of
similarity and divergence. Books were, to a great extent, closed to him;
but as of old, when he began his career as a blacksmith by making his
bellows, so he now fell back on his own resources. This brave Indian
philosopher of ours was not the man to be stopped by obstacles. He
procured some articles for the Indian trade he had learned in his boyhood,
and putting these and his provisions and camping equipage in an ox-cart,
he took a Cherokee boy with him as driver and companion, and started out
among the wild Indians of the plain and mountain, on a philological
crusade such as the world never saw.
One of the most remarkable features of his experience was the uniform
peace and kindness with which his brethren of the prairie received him.
They furnished him means, too, to prosecute his inquiries in each tribe or
clan. That they should be more sullen and reticent to white men is not
wonderful when we reflect that they have a suspicion that all these
pretended inquirers in science or religion have a lurking eye to real
estate. Several journeys were made. The task was so vast it might have
discouraged him. He started on his longest and his last journey. There was
among the Cherokees a tradition that part of their nation was somewhere in
New Mexico, separated from them before the advent of the whites.
Se-quo-yah knew this, and expected in his rambles to meet them. He had
camped on the spurs of the Rocky Mountains; he had threaded the valleys of
New Mexico; looked at the adobe villages of the Pueblos, and among the
race, neither Indian nor Spaniard, with swarthy face and unkempt hair. He
had occasion to moralize over those who had voluntarily become the slaves
of others even meaner than themselves, who spoke a jargon neither Indian
nor Spanish. Catholics in name, who ate red pepper pies, gambled like the
fashionable frequenters of Baden, and swore like troopers.
It was late in the year 1842 that the wanderer, sick of a fever, worn and
weary, halted his ox-cart near San Fernandino, in Northern Mexico. Fate
had willed that his work should die with him. But little of his labor was
saved, and that not enough to aid any one to develop his idea. Bad
nursing, exposure, and lack of proper medical attendance finished the
work. He sleeps, not far from the Rio Grande, the greatest of his race.
At one time Congress contemplated having his remains removed and a
monument erected over them; it was postponed, however.
The Legislature of the Little Cherokee Nation every year includes in its
general appropriations a pension of three hundred dollars to his
widow--the only literary pension paid in the United States.
Additional Cherokee Indian Resources
Index of Tribes or Nations
Notes About the Book:
Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Frederick Webb Hodge,
1906, Bureau of Ethnology, Government Printing Office.
Online Publication: The manuscript was scanned and
then ocr'd. Minimal editing has been done, and readers can and should expect
some errors in the textual output.