Tsalagi is the Cherokee syllabary, the written language of the Southern Iroquoi, still spoken by some 22,000 people today, primarily in the states of Oklahoma and North Carolina. It differs from the Western alphabet in that each symbol represents a syllable - either a combination of a consonant ad vowel, or just a vowel.
The syllabary was created by Chief Sequoyah (a.k.a George Guess) in 1819. He was the last member of his tribe's scribe clan and it is possible that the written language was formalised before him.
It is believed that Sequoyah invented it after a white friend gave him an English version of the Bible, most likely the King James Version. Although the chief did not know English, he was influenced by the way certain pictures stood for certain sounds in the English alphaet, prompting him to create the syllabary.
The Tsalagi Syllabary
- Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared diamond