Candessa Tehee  ᎢᏯ ᏗᎯ (Iya Dihi), Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Northeastern State University (Oklahoma)

Former Executive Director of the Cherokee Heritage Center in Tahlequah, OK

“I am writing this letter in support of the documentary that you are producing titled, “Searching for Sequoyah.” This documentary, as I understand it, intends to focus on Sequoyah’s invention of the syllabary, his migration West in response to the pressures of federal and state anti-Indian policies and sentiment, his final trip to Mexico on horseback in 1848, and the enduring resonance of his invention in contemporary language revitalization efforts and programs. A documentary focusing on the tremendous impact of Sequoyah’s legacy is greatly needed.

I am honored to be asked to participate and look forward to working with you both on this project. I completed my Ph.D. in Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma, and, my dissertation focused on how Cherokee language revitalization programs can create space for learners and on the perspectives of learners in those programs. I would be happy to discuss my research in the documentary as it pertains to the subject.

In addition to my academic background, I was also the Executive Director of the Cherokee Heritage Center. The CHC is a nonprofit organization with a mission to preserve, promote, and teach Cherokee history, heritage, and culture. Through this mission and our collaborative relationship with Cherokee Nation, we also serve as the Cherokee National Archives housing many important Cherokee language documents and artifacts including a printing press and two sets of Cherokee syllabary typeface from the 19th century.

Again, I am glad to take part in this endeavor with you and look forward to being of assistance.”

boneyRoy Boney, Jr. (ᎣᏏᏳ ᏥᎪᏪᎸᎦ) –
Artist & Manager, Cherokee Language Program – Cherokee Nation,

“I am very humbled and honored to participate in the proposed Sequoyah film project. Sequoyah has a special place in the pantheon of Cherokee leaders, and his story has inspired generations.

My connection to the Cherokee language comes from my family. I am a full blood Cherokee, and I grew up in a family fluent and literate in our language. I have been fortunate to give back to Cherokee Nation by working on several projects for the tribe that have helped bring the Cherokee syllabary into the digital era. Some of these successes range from having Apple’s mobile operating system iOS to include the Cherokee language on all iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches in the world, to having the Google’s Android system and Search Engine compatible with the Cherokee language, and to having a Cherokee language interface in Windows 8 and Office Online. The Cherokee language is being texted, tweeted, searched, and used in many social media communications across the world. None of this would be possible with the extraordinary work of Sequoyah.

I have done much research on Cherokee letterforms, the detailed history of the development of the syllabary from Sequoyah’s original handwriting to pixels, and on the life of Sequoyah himself. I am very excited to be able to participate in this film project. I feel this is an important film.”

justiceDaniel Heath Justice, Ph.D. (Cherokee Nation)
Professor, First Nations and Indigenous Studies/English, University of British Columbia
Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Literature and Expressive Culture
I am delighted and humbled to be part of the proposed film project, “Searching for Sequoyah.” This is a timely and important initiative, one that promises to reach deeply into the many different versions of and stories about Sequoyah and his impact on Cherokees of this time as well as our own. It promises to re-shape our collective understanding of one of the central figures in Cherokee history and culture, and to hopefully offer revolutionary new information from the investigation of his journey to Mexico. By bringing together a whole network of respected Cherokee community knowledge holders, storytellers, and language speakers alongside Sequoyah descendants, Cherokee scholars, and non-Cherokee historians and researchers, this project promises to be an wide-reaching and deeply rooted contribution to our understanding of Sequoyah’s life and legacy and a needed corrective to the limited archive and representations that have come before. Thank you for inviting me to participate; it’s a real honour to be included among so many people I respect and have learned from over the years. I hope that my work as an Indigenous literature scholar and my familiarity with Sequoyah’s contested representations in Cherokee literature will be useful to this film and its larger vision.

Julie Reed, Ph.D. (Cherokee Nation)
Associate Professor in History
Penn State, College of the Liberal Arts

Julie L. Reed is a historian of Native American History, with an emphasis on Southeastern Indians and Cherokee History, and American Education. 

Reed’s current project, tentatively titled “ “The Means of Education Shall Forever Be Encouraged in this Nation”: A Cherokee and American Educational History,”  reconsiders Cherokee educational history. Instead of assuming Cherokee educational efforts begin with Christian missionaries, U.S. officials, and Sequoyah’s invention of the syllabary in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Reed roots education in older forms of knowledge transmission and a general belief among Cherokee people that every member of Cherokee society regardless of age or gender could learn from or teach every other member of society.  Given the far more expansive and less rigid access to knowledge, Reed will consider how this older system moved forward as both Cherokees and non-Cherokees offered new ideas about the purposes, accessibility, and goals of education.

Her first book Serving the Nation: Cherokee Sovereignty and Social Welfare, 1800-1907 (University of Oklahoma, 2016) examined the shift by Cherokee people from a holistic system of care for others rooted within a matrilineal clan system and governed by local community obligations that stretched across towns to the rise of nationally administered social services by the Cherokee Nation to individual citizens.  This shift ultimately resulted in the creation of an orphanage, a prison, and a facility for the (dis)abled and mentally ill in the period after the Civil War.  Reed considers major turning points and the internal debates that led to changes in Cherokee social policy, how these changes in social policy both mirrored and deviated from changes happening in the larger United States, and the ways institutions served to protect Cherokee sovereignty when allotment and Oklahoma statehood threatened.

Brett Riggs, Ph.D.
Western Carolina Univerisity
Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies

Dr. Riggs is a research archaeologist with the Research Laboratories of Archaeology (RLA) at UNC-Chapel Hill. He specializes in Cherokee studies and, for more than twenty years, has worked in southwestern North Carolina to shed light on the lives of Cherokee families during the removal era of the 1830s. In his position with the RLA he is helping to establish the National Historic Trail of Tears Long-Distance Trail in the extreme southwestern corner of North Carolina.

Brett Riggs, Sequoyah Distinguished Professor of Cherokee Studies at Western Carolina University, has received the 2016 Cherokee National Worcester Award for his efforts to preserve Cherokee culture.

It is the highest honor the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma presents to non-Cherokees for their dedication to tribal history, heritage and sovereignty. The award was recently presented by Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker during the 64th annual Cherokee National Holiday Awards dinner in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Charlie Rhodarmer
Founder & Director of The Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, Vonore, TN

Written By Cece Owens (Source)

History is a subject in school. Some enjoy it, some study it, however, for Charlie Rhodarmer it is living history. One might say he has discovered a time machine, for at any moment, Charlie will take you back in history with historical storytelling in period costumes. It is his calling, evident when you learn his personal history. Born in Haywood County, North Carolina, he was a typical boy that enjoyed the outdoors and participated in Boy Scouts, achieving the prestigious Eagle Scout. With a great interest in military service, it was around the age of 14 that he was introduced to Civil War reenactments,  and, as they say, the rest is history.

After high school, Charlie served in the 82nd Airborne. Being a veteran of our country’s military is a significant place of pride, and telling the world about the service of all men and women from the beginning to present is a passion. He received an associate degree in criminal justice from Haywood County College and a bachelor in science from Western Carolina University. While at WCU, Charlie began working at the Mountain Heritage Center.

Before, during and after his time at Mountain Heritage Center, Charlie would be introduced to many life passions. A trip to Fort Loudoun resulted in a lifelong commitment to being a living historian, with a solid involvement as a volunteer since 1988. It was also this time that interests like blacksmithing were ignited, for which he continues today. He has worked at the Scottish Tartans Museum managing exhibits, moving them when it relocated from Highlands, NC, to Franklin, NC. He designed the layout of the museum, building most of the interior himself. He also served as Curator in residence at the Scottish Tartans Museum in Comrie, Scotland, and several years as the exhibit specialist for the JFK Special Warfare Museum at Fort Bragg. His permanent position with Boys Scouts of America led to becoming the National Scouting Museum Curator in Murray, KY. When the decision came to move that museum to Dallas, TX., it seemed the next life stage would be in Texas. However, a conversation on the phone with his mentor would change the direction.

That phone call gave notice of a museum job opening close to his heart, the chance to tell the story of Sequoyah and the Cherokee Nation. All of his life paths from blacksmithing, Civil War reenactments, the Heritage Center, volunteering at Fort Loudoun and historical storytelling were intersecting at the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum in Vonore, TN.

From listening to recorded Cherokee stories at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian as a kid to sharing history through period clothing and reenactments, the Cherokee story seemed to always be entwined with Charlie. It seemed no matter what period he turned to, there was a Cherokee connection. World War I is a historical period that he holds great interest in sharing, having many period uniforms and regularly participating in reenactments. Charlie shared that during WWI, the U.S. 30th Division Infantry Regiments, which contained Cherokee soldiers from western North Carolina.

Dr. Alberto Galindo

Alberto was born Jose Alberto Galindo in Chicago ILL, April 4 1960, and his first school was “Saint Mary of the Angels” in Chicago. He holds a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine and divides his time between his home in El Rio, Texas and and his ranch in Zaragoza, Couhuila, MX. Alberto is a chronicler and historian of Zaragoza, in the northeastern Mexican state of  Coahuila since 1993. Founder and member of several organizations including: Asociación de Cronistas e Historiadores de Coahuila, Colegio de Investigaciones Historical del Norte de Coahuila, and Consejo de Rescate del Patrimonio Cultural de Zaragoza.

Alberto is the author of several historyy books such as Zaragoza un Pueblo con Historia and  historical novels  Un Cielo de Metrallas and el Llanto de la Raiz.
Presentations, conferences, and honors in the United States, Mexico, Cuba, and Italy.

Additional Support From:

Joseph Erb (Cherokee Nation)

Joseph Erb – (Cherokee Nation)
Education Services Group, Tsalagi Cultural Center, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

“I look forward to being interviewed for your film project about Sequoyah. He shaped much of the culture and society over the years. We as a Cherokee people are always updating his writing technologies for modern use. It would be great to talk to you all more about how Cherokees got on the smart phones and other electronic devices. The Sequoyah Film Project sounds like a great project. I am excited to be involved.”




Julia Coates, Ph.D., – Tribal Councilor, Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma

“I am honored by your invitation to participate in an on camera interview for your upcoming “Searching for Sequoyah” documentary for PBS. I am very pleased to accept your invitation. As a Tribal Councilor of the Cherokee Nation and the lead instructor for fifteen years of the award-winning Cherokee Nation History Course, I have seen the power that the figure of Sequoyah still holds for the Cherokee today. His influence is not only developing a device by which our language can be perpetuated for all time, but also in unifying a people and defending sovereign rights, cannot be overstated.

Thank you so much for the invitation and I look forward to hearing more from you about this exciting project!”

LeeAnn Dreadfulwater – Cherokee Nation Communications Manager

“We are pleased to offer our support of your project for PBS, “Searching for Sequoyah”, which explores lesser-known stories surrounding Cherokee Nation’s history, such as the Old Settlers, Cherokees who emigrated to Mexico Territory and contemporary efforts to revitalize the language.

Having worked with Dr. Weaver on previous projects, including the “We Shall Remain” episode of PBS’s “American Experience”, we know that the subject will be thoroughly researched and treated with due respect. We understand that we may be called upon to provide liaison assistance with research, interviews and technical assistance.

Little is known definitely about the latter part of Sequoyah’s life and we welcome new insights that this program may be able to add. We look forward to collaborating with you on this work.”

Christopher B. Teuton, PhD (Cherokee Nation)

Professor and Chair – Department of American Indian Studies University of Washington-Seattle

“Thank you very much for contacting me concerning your film project, “Searching for Sequoyah.” I would very much like to take part in the film as an on-camera scholar who will speak about Sequoyah and his life. I understand that will likely shoot in the fall of 2015 and I am ready to participate when needed.

Thanks again for this invitation to participate in the film. As you know, there are few Indigenous leaders as talented and enigmatic as Sequoyah, and even fewer of whom scholars seem to know so little. I hope that with your film we will introduce Sequoyah to a larger audience and draw on the rich resources from Cherokee community and current scholarship to do so.”


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