Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Grand Opening for Sequoyah’s Cabin Set for Thursday

The Cherokee Nation is planning a grand opening for Sequoyah’s Cabin, the historic property northeast of Sallisaw the tribe purchased from the state last year.

The grand opening will be held from 10:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Thursday.

The historic site has undergone a complete renovation, a spokesman said, including a renovated gift shop with new walls around both the gift shop and cabin, which is enclosed for protection.

A new collection of historic items and photos has been added and a new children’s area is under construction. The grounds are also undergoing more maintenance.

The spokesman said the site has remained open while renovations were underway, and tours are available.

According to the website, Sequoyah’s Cabin is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated as a National Literary Landmark in 2006.

Sequoyah built this one-room log cabin in 1829, shortly after moving to Oklahoma. The actual cabin is located inside a stone memorial building built by the Works Progress Administration in 1936 and is surrounded by a 10-acre park. The cabin is made of hewn logs with a stone chimney and fireplace and is maintained as a historic house museum, furnished to appear as it might have when Sequoyah lived there. There are relics and documents associated with his life on display. 

Sequoyah, also known as George Guess or George Gist, was born in Tennessee around 1778. He was among the “Old Settlers” of Cherokee Nation, who migrated to present-day Oklahoma and western Arkansas around 1818, prior to the Trail of Tears. Though lame in one leg, Sequoyah became known as a skilled blacksmith and silversmith as well as an artist. 

In 1809, he began experimenting with an alphabet for the Cherokee language. After many years of experimentation, Sequoyah realized the Cherokee language is composed of a set number of recurring sounds. With this insight he identified the sounds and created a symbol for each sound, producing a syllabary. By the 1820s, his work was complete. When Sequoyah demonstrated that he and his daughter, Ahyokah (Ah-yo-ka), could communicate by reading written messages, the teaching of the syllabary spread and literacy rates among Cherokees soared within just a few years.

Sequoyah left his eastern home in 1818 to operate a salt production and blacksmith works near present-day Russellville, Ark. In 1828, Sequoyah joined a delegation sent to Washington by the Arkansas Cherokees to make a treaty to exchange their lands for lands in Indian Territory. Following this trip, Sequoyah traded his land and salt works for land located on Big Skin Bayou Creek in Indian Territory.

Sequoyah's Cabin is located on Oklahoma 101, seven miles east of U.S. Highway 59 in Sallisaw.

The site is open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

The phone number is (918) 775-2413​.

Cherokee Nation took ownership from the Oklahoma Historical Society in November 2016 when the Oklahoma Historical Society was no longer able to operate and maintain the site due to budget cuts.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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