Make your own free website on
Cherokee Syllabary
The written form of the Cherokee language was developed by Sequoyah, who completed his twelve year work and gave it to the Cherokee people in 1821. For many years following, it is estimated that some 90% of the Cherokees knew their language and its written form. Since 1907, the year Oklahoma gained statehood, that figure has been in steady decline. Today fewer than 10% of the Cherokee people can speak their own language, and fewer still know how to read or write the syllabary. The Cherokee "alphabet" is called a "syllabary" since each character represents a syllable. There were 86 symbols in Sequoyah's original syllabary. The original syllabary was modified by Rev. Samuel A. Worcester, who collaborated with Sequoyah to re-shape the characters into forms that would allow the creation of type for a printing press. The re-shaped syllabary characters have been in use since 1828, and have come to be known as Sequoyah's syllabary. The font that we use today follows the tradition set by that "old-style" litho font.
Sequoyah's original work
click on pics for full size view

From the John Howard Payne papers collected at the Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The photograph from which the illustration above is taken is copyrighted by the Gilcrease Museum.

The following pic shows each letter and its pronunciation.

Sounds Represented by Vowels:

 a, as a in father, or short as a in rival
 o, as o in note, approaching aw in law
 e, as a in hate, or short as e in met
 u, as oo in fool, or short as u in pull
 i, as i in pique, or short as i in pit
 v, as u in but, nasalized

 Consonant Sounds 

 h, k, l, m, n, q, s, t, w, and y as in English. 
 g nearly as in English, but approaching k. 
Syllables beginning with g  except (ga) can have the consonance of k.  
(go), (du), and (dv) are sometimes sounded: to, tu, 
and tv.  
Syllables starting with tl [except (tla)] sometimes 
vary to dl.     
 Letters in parentheses are sometimes not spoke in everyday language
 ' indicates accent on that syllable, following a consonant means the vowel has been left out
 ? indicates pause after that syllable
 : indicates that the vowel is long and takes twice as long to say

A few Cherokee words
Download Cherokee fonts
for PC/Windows
[Prophecies][Main][Trail of Tears][Sun Dance][Stories]
[Arrowheads][Great Chiefs][Art][Campfire]