spacer Sequoyah Sequoyah (1770?-1843)
Native American statesman

Sequoyah developed the alphabet, or table of characters, for the Cherokee language, completing his task by 1821. After moving to Oklahoma, he encouraged the printing of books and a newspaper in Cherokee and became active in the political life of his tribe. Sequoyah's fame is perpetuated in the name of the genus of California's giant redwoods. This portrait depicts Sequoyah wearing a peace medal and holding a tablet with the Cherokee alphabet. It is a copy of the painting made by Charles Bird King in 1828, when Sequoyah was in Washington, D.C., to negotiate a treaty. King's portrait was created for Thomas McKenney, commissioner of Indian affairs, who sought to record the culture and prominent figures of the Native American tribes. More than one hundred of the portraits that he commissioned were reproduced in McKenney and co-editor James Hall's three-volume History of the Indian Tribes of North America, with Biographical Sketches and Anecdotes of the Principal Chiefs (Philadelphia, 1838-1844). Henry Inman's copies were part of the process of making lithographs for this publication.

Henry Inman (1801 1846), after Charles Bird King
Oil on canvas, circa 1830
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Enlarged image

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