Cherokee Phoenix


Published July, 30, 1828

Page 2 Column 2a


PHILADELPHIA, April 5, 1828,


DEAR SIR:- I have seen by chance the first number of the Cherokee Phoenix, in the hands of Mr. Duponceau President of the American Philosophical Society, who is going to send it to a learned society in France as a great curiosity!

I am a great friend of the native Tribes of America, whose history I have investigated more deeply than anyone else, and particularly of the Tsa-la-gi or Cherokees, the remains of a very ancient and powerful nation, now coming to glory again. I am writing a general history of the American Nations, and my history of the Tsa-la-gi Nation will be very interesting; it might be still more so if I could procure from you some fragments of the ancient traditions preserved in the nation. As some new facts may be evolved in the pages of the Cherokee Phoenix, I wish to procure that journal from the beginning. If you could send me two copies of the Cherokee Phoenix, I would send one to Europe, where it will be preserved as a rarity. I understand that a Library and Museum is forming by the Cherokee Nation; I wish to offer them 25 volumes as a present, and also some articles of natural history, when you will inform me how they may be sent safely.

I send you this letter and also the Prospectus of my History of America, through Mr. Ross Post-Master of Rossville, to insure its reception, as I do not know if you have a Post office at New Echota. I send you also here annexed two series of questions on the language and history of the Cherokees, which I beg you will insert in your journal, in order that they may be answered by the best informed Cherokees. You may probably answer yourself those on the language. I wish to study the Cherokee Alphabet and am perplexed by the difficulties that I state. I understand the French, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese languages, and a little the Hebrew, Arabic, Sanskrit and twenty others. I wish to compare the Tsalagi with all these; I have a small vocabulary already and I think that I can trace some of its affinities to the Sanskrit, Etruscan and Atalantes.- And in America with the Tala (or Tarasca) of West Mexico, Otolum, Muhiscas 'c., This will be confirmed or disproved by your answers.- The main point to be ascertained is, whether all our 85 syllables have each a meaning in the Tsalagi language; if they have, it will be an important philological fact.

Respecting your ancient history as a Nation, let me suggest the propriety to rescue it from oblivion. Now is the time, since education enables you to write your ancient traditions before they become totally lost. An example has just been given by David Cusick a Tuscarora chief, who has lately published in English the ancient history or traditions of the six nations, going 2500 years back.

I wish with all my heart, success to your attempt to become a permanent nation. Act with firmness and propriety and you may overcome all opposition; right and justice, law and treaties, with all good men are on your side. But you must not shut the eyes to your situation, you will not be allowed to remain independent! the stronger you become the greater the danger in case of war will be said by the southern states, and your toleration of slavery lessens the sympathies of the northern states. You will be removed at last by force to some equivalent place, far off now, and again from thence within 50 years. There is only one way to avert this fate; it is by respectfully, but repeatedly asking to form a kind of Territorial government, annexed to the Federal Union, so as to become an independent acknowledged Federal Territory, with a delegate in Congress, and the privilege to become a state when your population will allow it. This is the kind advice of a true friend of your nation.

C. S. Rafinesque.

Professor of History and botany, in Philadelphia.

P. S. Pray are there any Botanists in your Nation, or anyone able to preserve and press plants in herbals? I should with much to procure the plants of your country and mountains, particularly the medical ones. I have published a first volume of the Medical Flora of the United States, and am now writing the second volume. What is the Tsalagi name of Guess, inventer of the alphabet? It is a pity so many letters are so near alike.


By Professor Rafinesque.

1. Why is there such a difference between the alphabet published by the United States in Indian treaties, and that given in no 1. of your journal of Guess and W. alphabets? I do not mean in the order or pronunciation, but in the forms, terms, and notations?

2. What means the 3 letters all 3 pro. un (French) [Cherokee symbols] of Guess, ' what is become of them? what is become also of Claugh (Cherokee symbol) Cleegh

(Cherokee symbol) Clah, (Cherokee symbol), Clegh (Cherokee symbol) Cloh (Cherokee Symbol) and the nasal Gnaugh (Cherokee symbol)? 3. Why is the name of the nation (Cherokee Symbols) pronounced by Guess Tsah-lah-keeh and by W. Tsa-la-gi? Are the sounds G and K interchangeable and also Cl and Ti?

4. Is really the Tsalagi Language totally deficient of the sounds B, D, F, J. P, R, V, X, Z, Th, ' all nasal sounds An, En, In, On Un? and how are those sounds changed in writing foreign words? how would our write my name Rafinesque, for instance, perhaps Lahineska? how Washington, Jefferson, Europe, Phoenix, Boston? 'c.

5. Has not every syllable of the Tsalagi a proper meaning or import in the language when standing alone? if they have, give the meaning of each, this is very important!

6. Art there not several dialects of the language yet spoken or is the uniformity complete? what is become of the Ayrati dialect which changed L into R, and called the Mountain Cherokis Otari instead of Otali, and the whole Nation Chiroki whence your English name of Cherokees. Are they all gone to Arkansas?

7. What is the meaning of the following historical names and words in Tsalagi, translated into English

Otali, Cherokee symbols Tsalagi,

Alate, Cherokee symbols Teomi

Olata, Cherokee symbols Melilo

Teliquo, Tanassi Amana,

Talasi Cusa Matika

Alega Satula Olaimi

Atsala Talomeco Utina

Awalatsi Timuaca Mayla

Hitanatsi Yamasi Atsora

Quowatsi Aquowaka Hemalini

8. Try to give literal translations of the Lord's Prayer and some other fragments,

word for word in opposition to each other, so far as to offer at once a view of words and syntax; but the words must each be separated and distinguished either in two perpendicular lines or double lines, one word Tsalagi and one word English annexed to each other and separated from all others!

9. What numerals are used by the Tsalagi, give the names of numbers to 10, in letters, and the ciphers? Do they count decimally or how?

10. I send you a short vocabulary of the language spoken by Apalachi, Timuaca or Yamasi in 1640 please to compare the words with the Tsalagi, and point out those which have a resemblance, or give the corresponding Tsalagi words.

Man Viro, cara, hua

Woman Nia

Father Iti

Mother Isa

Child Chirico, kie, ule,

Brother Niha, hiasa

Sister Yachamiso

Do Amita

Do. Yachacamina

River Achi

King Cusi, Cuhe

Queen Qui,

Emperor Paracusi

Earth Gua, Aga

Great Ma, mi

Holy Hari

Priest Iaohua

Fine Hitana

Valiant hiba

1 one minecota

2 two naincha

3 three nahapu

Fish Baza, Wasa

yes haha

maize hazez naarimi

Mountain aimi

house maste, bohio

God Yao, Que, Tec, Io

Spirits Inama, Teka

City Meli

Council Ilo

Sun Ol, huga, tona

Bird Tsuli

Lake Tseo

Gold Sierapira, Silahila

my na

thine ye

his, her mima

our mile

your yaya

theirs lama C.S. R.


By Professor Rafinesque, author of the General History of America, Philadelphia, April 1828.

1. I have formed the following table of all the great rulers of the Tsalagi mentioned in history and fragments printed. I wish to know whether anything to the contrary is known by tradition or otherwise, and whether the names mentioned have a meaning in Tsalagi?


Towards 2200 years before Columbus, the Emperor of Gold City of Melilo (Cherokee symbols) ruled over all the nation from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. The nations were called Talegahi (Cherokee symbols), and divided into 2 tribes of the mountains and plains, Otali (Cherokee symbols), and Olata (Cherokee symbols)- (Cusick, Bridstock, 'c., 'c.)

Towards the year 400 of Christ or 1100 before Columbus the Otali sent a large colony to Mexico where they are called Tlatuytsi (Cherokee symbols) (Bridstock).

Towards 500, The Dynasty of the Teltlahim (perhaps Telatlahimi (Cherokee symbols))ruled over the empire of Apalacha (perhaps Awalatsa (Cherokee symbols)) extending from latitude 33 to 37, this dynasty still ruling in 1640- (Br.)

In 1540 at the invasion of Soto, Queen Cofaciqui or Qouwatsiqui (Cherokee symbols) ruled over the Tsilaki.

In 1565 the Emperor was Olatautina (Cherokee symbols)

In 1643, the king of Atsalaka was yet dependant on the Empire of Apalacha.

In 1700, Litsi was king of the Tsalagi, but a revolution takes place, he is driven south in 1716.

In 1717 Chamascula or Tsamasgula is king of Tsalagi.

In 1736 Moytoy was Emperor of Teliquo and Tsalagi.

In 1751 Ostenaco was king of Echota and Tsalagi.

In 1770 Oconestota was king and Atagula great General.

In 1785 Koatohi king of Toquo, makes peace with United States.

In 1791 Tsilioha was great chief of Tsalagi.

In 1798 Tskagua was the great chief at the first treaty of Teliquo.

In 1804 Molutuski was great chief at the second Do.

In 1805 Enoli was great chief at the third treaty of Teliquo.

In 1816 Nenohutuhe or Pathkiller is the great chief.

2d. Question- Give the names of all the great supreme chiefs of the nation, as far back as memory or traditions go, and try to fix their successive order and time?

3d. Question-What is the substance of the oldest traditions as yet preserved? how far back do they go? do they not point to a connection with the Nations Apalacha, Timuacas, Amana, Matica, Sehama, Meraco, 'c. all parts of the ancient Empire of Talegawy? which must be Tsalagi.

4th Quest. What have been the ancient wars of the Tsalagi? what nations did they deem foes? and which friends and allies? what nations have been incorporated or adopted?

5th Quest. What were the causes of the separation of the Tsalagi from the Apalacha towards 1716, or 112 years ago? was it not their alliance with the Spaniards, while the Tsalagi became allies of the English of Carolina?

6th Quest. Where about were the holy mountains of Olaimi the capital Melilo, and the Lake Tseomi mentioned in 1643 as yet seen by Bridgstock? Where was Talomeco capital and temple seen in 1540 by Soto? Was it Teliquo?

7th Quest.- What traditions or fables exist concerning the origin of the nation, the monuments they have built anciently, 'c.? Are no migrations and changes of places remembered? In 1540 the Tsalagi extended all over Carolina part of Georgia and as far as the Ohio; but where did the dwell before? have they no memory of having crossed the sea? to have come from the south? what places were deemed most holy, as first seats of ancestors?

8th Quest.- Have no traditions been preserved of other migrations or colonies besides those of the Tlahuitsi, Matica, and the last to Arkansas? sent off by Tsalagi?

C. S. Rafinesque, Pr.

P. S. What names do the Tsalagi give to the United States and to each State known to them? also to each Indian Nation known to them? and to the largest river in the United States? and to their own mountains?