Bibliography on Cherokee Language

by Tina L. Hanlon

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See also Picture Books with Cherokee Themes
Appalachian Nonfiction Books for Children and Young Adults


Note: This is a new bibliography in April 2004. At this point it reflects research on folklore, literature, and especially children's books more than research in linguistics. Please send additions and corrections to Tina L. Hanlon. Oral recordings of Cherokee storytellers (mostly speaking English) are listed in AppLit's Gayle Ross, Cherokee Storyteller and Appalachian Folktales in Film, Drama, and Storytelling Recordings.

Anderson, Bridget. "Cherokee."  Encyclopedia of Appalachia (2006). Ed. Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell. Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press, pp. 1012-14.  In section Cultural Traditions: Language.

Appalachian Accents is the focus of Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, vol. 17, No. 2 (Summer 2000), with articles by Michael Montgomery, Anita Puckett, and others, including an article on efforts to keep the Cherokee language alive (see Duncan & Taylor, below).

Bird, Traveller. Tell Them They Lie: The Sequoyoh Myth. Westernlore, 1971. Novelist Robert Conley (see below) finds Bird's case for U. S. governnment suppression of Cherokee writing before Sequoyah "very difficult to accept," although some do believe there was Cherokee writing earlier.

Bradley, Ramona K. Weavers of Tales: A Collection of Cherokee Legends. Published by the author, 1967. Rpt. Cherokee, NC: Betty Dupree. No date given in book if this is a reprint later than 1967. With sepia drawings by the author, wife of an Eastern Cherokee, and several photos. Includes 24 tales, an introduction on prominent Cherokee storytellers (especially A'yn'ini or Swimmer, the main informant for Mooney's 19th-century records of tales), a Foreword on the land of the Cherokee and a page in the back called "Cherokee Sounds," for pronouncing Cherokee names.

Campbell, C. W. (Chester W.). Sequoyah. The Story of an American Indian series. Minneapolis: Dillon Press, 1973. 74 pp. Biography for children.

Carpenter, Iris. "The Tallest Indian." American Education 12, 7 (Aug./Sept. 1976): pp. 23-5. "Without help or encouragement Sequoyah pursued the power of the white man's 'talking leaf' and gave the world a marvelously logical and simple alphabet" (ERIC item EJ152920).

Cherokee. Yamada Language Center, University of Oregon. Links on Cherokee language, 2002.

The Cherokee Companion, software on language, and The Cherokee Companion Links Page. Profit Systems Software, 1997-2003. In

Cherokee-English Dictionary.

Cherokee Folk Tales. 3 vols. Tahlequah, OK: Cherokee Bilingual Education Program, 1973-1974. Listed in WorldCat as a bilingual illustrated children's book.

Cherokee Fonts:

The Cherokee Font - Official Release by Cherokee Nation Webmaster, Feb. 2001. Free downloadable font with instructions and background.

Free Cherokee Font offered by JST (Joan Sarah Touzet), 1996-2004.

Cherokee Language and Culture. An Oklahoma private business by Prentice Robinson, a native speaker of Cherokee, offering language learning materials.

Cherokee Publications. Phone 800-948-3161.

Chiltoskey, Mary Ulmer. Cherokee Words with Pictures. Cherokee, NC: Cherokee Publications, 1972. A short dictionary of words, phrases, and names using the Cherokee syllabary and sepia drawings, with background on Cherokee history and language.

Coblentz, Catherine Cate. Ah-yo-ka, Daughter of Sequoya. Illus. Janice Holland. Real People series. Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson, 1950. 36 pp. Sacramento: California State Dept. of Education, 1963.

Coblentz, Catherine Cate. Sequoya. New York: Longmans Green, 1946. 199 pages.

Conley, Robert J. "Backtracking from Oklahoma to North Carolina: An Interview with Robert J. Conley." Appalachian Journal, vol. 28 (Spring 2001): pp. 326-44. "An author of historical fiction about the Cherokee Indians discusses how stories told by his Cherokee grandmother were woven into his books, differences between Cherokee reservation life in Oklahoma and North Carolina, the Cherokee education system, the writing system that Sequoyah developed, and the 'ugly realities' of being a full-time writer" (ERIC item EJ628500).

Conley, Robert J. Sequoyah. A Novel of the Real People. New York: St. Martins, 2002. 217 pp. Conley, a Cherokee from Talequah, OK, has written several Real People novels about the Cherokee. His Author's Note explains that almost every detail of Sequoyah's life is disputed. For example, "His name means 'Pig Place,' 'Pig's Foot,' 'The Lame One,' or nothing at all and is not even a Cherokee word" (p. 215). A document in Sequoyah's handwriting disproves the observation that he copied the syllabary characters from a newspaper or book, because his original syllabary has completely different characters from the later one with symbols resembling Roman letters. Some believe that the Cherokee had writing before Sequoyah and Conley has depicted fictional priests who were scribes around 1500. Conley also discusses other sources used in his research.

Cwiklik, Robert. Sequoyah and the Cherokee Alphabet. Illus. T(homas) Lewis. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Silver Burdett Press, 1989. 129 pp. "Juvenile audience. Alvin Josephy's biography series of American Indians. Abstract: A biography of the Cherokee Indian who invented a method for his people to write and read their own language" (WorldCat).

Dennis, Yvonne Wakim. Sequoyah, 1770?-1843. American Indian Biographies series. Mankato, Minn.: Blue Earth Books, 2004. 32 pp. Contents: A Gift for the Cherokee, Growing up Cherokee, Inventor and Soldier, Sequoyah Seeks an Answer, The Syllabary Spreads, A Quiet Ending, Map, Chronology, Words to Know, Internet Sites, Places to Visit, Index.

Duncan, B. R. & J. Taylor. "Hanging in the Balance: The Fate of the Cherokee Language in the 21st Century." Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, vol. 17, no. 2 (2000). Excerpt available at

Fitterer, C. Ann. Sequoyah: Native American Scholar. Our People series. Chanhassen, Minn: Child's World, 2003. 32 pp. illustrations (some color). "Primary school. ... A brief introduction to the life of the Cherokee Indian who created a method for his people to write and read their own language" (WorldCat).

Foreman, Grant. Sequoyah. Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1938. Cited in Robert J. Conley's 2002 novel (see above) as "standard and still useful."

Gleiter, Jan and Kathleen Thompson. Sequoya Illus. Tom Redman. Milwaukee: Raintree Children's Books, 1988. 32 pp. "Juvenile audience. A biography of the Cherokee Indian who invented a system of writing for his people in the early nineteenth century and after whom the giant sequoia trees and Sequoia National Park were named" (WorldCat).

Hall, Peggy Jo. Sequoyah: Prophet Without Honor. Cited in Robert J. Conley's 2002 novel (see above) as "an interesting, unpublished but produced play."

Hannah, Leslie Deon. "We Still Tell Stories: An Examination of Cherokee Oral Literature." University of Oklahoma, 2003. Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, 63:12 (2003 June), 4313. Subject Terms: Folk literature; folk narrative; folk tale; of Cherokee Indians; United States; Oklahoma.

Higgs, Robert J., et al. Appalachia Inside Out: A Sequel to Voices from the Hills. 2 vols. Knoxville: Tennessee U. Press, 1995. Vol. I contains material on Sequoyah, who developed the Cherokee syllabary.

Hirschfield, Laura. Cherokee Heroes: Three Who Made a Difference. Bothell, WA: Wright Group/McGraw-Hill, 2001. 32 pp. Illustrations (some color), maps. Biographies of Sequoyah (1770?-1843), Nancy Ward (d. 1822), and Chief Wilma Pearl Mankiller (Oklahoma, 1945- ). Includes index.

Hoig, Stan. Sequoyah: The Cherokee Genius. The Oklahoma Historical Society, 1995. Cited in Robert Conley's 2002 novel (see above) as "the best single source. . . [a] very thorough biography."

Hunt, Bernice Kohn. The Story of Sequoyah: Talking Leaves. Illus. Valli Van de Bovenkamp. New York, Hawthorn Books, 1969. 32 pp. "Juvenile audience. Summarizes the life of Sequoyah, the Cherokee warrior, who devised a written language for his people" (WorldCat).

Klausner, Janet. Sequoyah's Gift: A Portrait of the Cherokee Leader. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. 111 pp. "Juvenile audience. Contents: Way of Life -- Reputation -- Idea -- Pursuit -- It Works -- Results -- Terrible Times -- Final Journey" (WorldCat). Afterword by Duane H. King. Index, bibliography.

Marshall, Cora M. "Forever Tsalagi: Cherokee Legends, Language and Lessons: A Video." M.S. Ed. dissertation, Bank Street College of Education, 1993. 66 pp. + 1 videocassette (24 min.).

Museum of the Cherokee Indian. Cherokee, NC. The Gift Shop offers materials on language for sale online and in the museum in Cherokee. The museum has an exhibit of the Cherokee syllabary with repeated oral recordings of each syllable.

Native Collections Maiden Cherokee. Cherokee, NC. Language section lists books, tapes, flash cards and dictionaries for sale online.

Oppenheim, Joanne F. Sequoyah: Cherokee Hero. Illus. Bert Dodson. Mahwah, NJ: Troll Communications, 1979. 43 pp. Biography for children.

Pennington, Daniel. Itse Selu: Cherokee Harvest Festival. Illus. Don Stewart. Watertown, MA: Tailwinds/Charlesbridge, 1994. This picture book focuses on the green corn festival as a boy and girl experience it.  Included are Cherokee words with pronunciation guides and images on the left of animals and traditional objects named in the story illustrated on the right-hand pages. A number of Cherokee traditions before the coming of the Europeans are depicted. Background is given in the preface and an appendix with the Cherokee syllabary.

Press, Petra. The Cherokee. First Reports Series. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2002. 48 pp. Illustrations (some color). For primary grades. "Contents: Who are the Cherokee? - Life before the Europeans - The importance of harmony - Contact with the first Europeans - Guns and bloody wars - Losing their land to the colonists - Still more treaties - The five civilized tribes - The Trail of Tears - More broken promises - Refugees in their own land - Self-determination - Into the twenty-first century - Words to know" (WorldCat). Includes bibliography and index.

Riley, Sam G. "The Cherokee Phoenix: The Short, Unhappy Life of the First American Indian Newspaper." Journalism Quarterly 666-71 (Winter 1976). "Tribal problems and white harassment combined to end the weekly publication in 1834" (ERIC item EJ156910).

Rumford, James. Sequoyah: The Cherokee Man Who Gave His People Writing. Transl. Anna Sixkiller Huckaby. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Picture book with parallel texts in English and Cherokee language, including the Cherokee syllabary. An Honor Book for the 2005 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, American Library Association. With art by Rumford of mixed-media compositions in deep shades and bold lines.

Roop, Peter and Connie. Ahyoka and the Talking Leaves. Illus. Yoshi Miyake. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1992. 60 pp. Historical fiction for children in six chapters with full-page black and white illustrations, about Ahyoka helping her father Sequoyah, as he figures out how to create the Cherokee syllabary. As the story begins, father and daughter are trying to create a symbol for every word but that is too difficult. He retells his story about learning while fighting with white men that they had "talking leaves" for sending messages back to their homes. As the Epilogue explains, very little is known about many of the facts of Sequoyah's life, but this story depicts his wife burning his papers and ending their marriage because he is not supporting the family while concentrating so hard on trying to develop a language. Ahyokah trades her beautiful silver bracelet her father made for a book he wants, but they do not know what the letters in the book mean. Ahyokah runs away to go with him when he travels west from northern Alabama after the cabin he was using in the woods is burned. Ahyokah is given credit for figuring out that the English alphabet must have a correspondence between symbols and sounds. Then they begin to develop the system that becomes the Cherokee syllabary, later reducing their symbols to 86 letters for syllables of the Cherokee language. The Epilogue tells of the influence of this invention.

Santella, Andrew. The Cherokee. A True Book. New York: Children's Press/Scholastic, 2001. 47 pp. A nonfiction book for young readers by a Chicago author, with photographs and old illustrations (a 16th-century Indian town, portraits of famous chiefs, etc.), maps, word list, references, and index. An overview of Cherokee life and history, ancient and recent.

Sequoyah. Page at, 2003.

Sequoyah (a.k.a George Gist): A North Georgia Notable. About North Georgia by Golden Ink, 1994-2004. This site includes other pages on Cherokee history and language, including material on The Cherokee Phoenix and its editor.

Sequoyah Birthplace Museum. Vonore, Tennessee. Web site includes a page displaying the Cherokee syllabary.

Shaughnessy, Diane and Jack Carpenter. Sequoyah: Inventor of the Cherokee Written Language. Famous Native Americans series. New York: PowerKids Press,1997. 24 pp. Illustrations, some color. Biography for children.

Shumate, Jane. Sequoyah: Inventor of the Cherokee Alphabet. North American Indians of Achievement series. New York: Chelsea House, 1994. 111 pp. Biography for children. Bibliography, index.

Snow, Dorothea J. Sequoyah: Young Cherokee Guide. Bobbs Merrill, 1960. Cited in Robert J. Conley's 2002 novel (see above) as a "useful" young adult book.

Thornton, Russell. The Cherokees: A Population History. Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1990. Robert J. Conley (see above) cites a story from 1717, recorded by NC trader Alexander Long and quoted in Thornton, in which a Cherokee man tells that "in those days, our priests could read and write."

Traditions and Languages of Three Native Cultures: Tlingit, Lakota, & Cherokee. Edsitement Lesson Plans. National Endowment for the Humanities. Includes links. No date given.

Wade, Mary Dodson. Sequoyah's Talking Leaves. Illus. Amy Bates. Menlo Park, CA: Electronic Education, 1998-2002? 15 pp. Primary school (WorldCat).

Waxman, Laura Hamilton. Sequoyah. History Maker Bios Series. Illus. Tim Parlin. New York: Barnes and Noble, 2004. A small illustrated chapter book with old and new illustrations, photographs, maps, a timeline, and references.

Wheeler, Jill. The Lame One: The Story of Sequoyah. Famous American Indian Leaders. Illus. Liz Dodson. Abdo & Daughters,1989. 32 pp. Marketed for ages 9-12.

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This page created 3/30/04. Last update: 02/07/2007
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