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Cherokee Symbols

The Cherokees are a Native American tribe that reside in the United States of America, and they have devised their own Cherokee symbols syllabary to use as a medium of communication...

Last Updated On: 6/7/2010


Every culture has developed their own unique symbols and signs over time, and Cherokee symbols are widely recognized language tools that were developed by the Native American Cherokees to portray their beliefs. Cherokee symbols are distinguished as syllabary symbols.

Syllabary is a form wherein a particular symbol or representation is used to denote a fixed syllable. Thus a sentence will contain a few syllables, rather than a lot of words. The symbols that are used in syllabary usually sound like a consonant (which is optional), followed by a vowel. Cherokee symbols thus make use of syllabary, and not alphabets, because each symbol represents a distinct and unique sound.

The Cherokee Tribe
According to the census in 2000 AD, the Cherokee tribe is comprised of about 300,00 members today. There are a total of 563 Native American tribes that are recognized by the Federal United States Government, and the Cherokees are the biggest amongst all of these. As a result, the popularity of Cherokee symbols is quite high, and there are many people who can understand these symbols and speak them as well. Read more about Native American culture.

History of Cherokee Symbols
The Cherokee syllabary was created by Sequoyah, a Cherokee silversmith, in the year 1819. His contribution is noteworthy because he was completely illiterate and had no prior exposure to any form of written script. By 1825, his syllabary became immensely popular and the Cherokee tribes adopted it as their written language.

There are currently 85 Native American Cherokee symbols, (originally there were 86), and these comprise the written and spoken language of the Native American Cherokees. Read more about Native American symbols and meanings.

Cherokee Symbols and Meanings
Each character denoted in a chart of Cherokee symbols represents a particular sound, that ends with a vowel. The phonetic value of symbols differ and often mean two different things, thus implying that this is not easy to pick up. The pictorial representation of each syllable looks like an alphabet out of the English language, but it differs in the vocal sound greatly.

These Cherokee symbols are widely used as signs on the streets in the areas where the Cherokees dominantly reside. There are three recognized Cherokee tribes in the United States today. The Cherokee Nation tribe and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians tribe both reside in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians tribe resides in Cherokee, North Carolina.

The pictorial representation of these Cherokee symbols are very attractive to look at, so some people use these as tattoo designs as well. Cherokee symbol tattoos are quite commonly seen, especially in the Cherokee inhabited areas, and these are intended to be a homage to their culture and belief systems. Most common Cherokee symbols tattoos make use of Cherokee symbols for love, brotherhood, peace, harmony, unity and good fortune. These protect the wearer from evil spirits and give them peace of mind.

Colors, numbers, sacred animals and sacred trees are also some commonly seen Cherokee symbols that are flaunted by Cherokees. Their perceptions of these symbols may differ from the beliefs of other cultures, but they are ultimately used to denote good fortune and a positive and healthy life.

People interested in Cherokee symbols and their history can learn more about them and can even learn the syllabary for themselves. These symbols are very fascinating indeed, and carry a lot of history and heritage with them.


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