I greatly enjoy reading “History Lesson” by Bill Carey as I enjoy learning more about Tennessee History.
In the June 2015 edition about Sequoyah, Bill stated, “The man invented a written language by creating a syllabary, one symbol at a time, which allowed a person to write down any Cherokee word. This enabled the Cherokee people to become the first American Indians to have a written language.” Sequoyah’s efforts were indeed remarkable, but the Cherokee were not the first Native Americans to have a written language.
The Wampanoag of Massachusetts and Rhode Island had a written language. The first Bible printed in the colonies (1663) was printed in Wampanoag following translation by the missionary John Elliot. Many Wampanoag became literate, and the language was used for letters, deeds, legal matters and historical documents. Unfortunately, largely due to significant losses of male speakers during the American Revolution and surviving women marrying into other language groups, the use of the language declined. Native speakers were lost, and the language was forgotten, although the names of many cities and other geographical locations, especially in Massachusetts, are in Wampanoag.
Beginning in 1993, the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project began largely through the efforts of Jessie Little Doe Baird. There is an interesting documentary film called “We Still Live Here” by filmmaker Anne Makepeace that describes Baird’s efforts to restore the language. Until I saw this film and read more, I, too, thought that Cherokee was the first written language of Native Americans.
By the way, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag celebrated a harvest feast in 1621 — the feast we now acknowledge with our annual Thanksgiving holiday.
Thank you for including “History Lesson” in the monthly editions of The Tennessee Magazine.
— Anita DeAngelis, Elizabethton
Mountain Electric Cooperative
I enjoyed watching the stars as a kid. We’d go camping outside the city in Texas, and we’d camp along rivers and watch the stars. We could make out the Milky Way galaxy and see such vivid images. We’d stare for hours talking with just a campfire or a few flashlights.
I love electricity, but we’ve lost those images of our stars with so much light pollution. I live in the Walter Hill/Mona part of Murfreesboro, and the interference from Smyrna and Murfreesboro limits my star view.
Your recent Shutterbug cover photo has an image of the Milky Way in the distance. It mentions it’s not a Tennessee photo but one from South Carolina.
I have a few questions: Is the photo a fake? And given that you sell service that has taken away our backyard views, can you provide locations in the Tennessee area where we might find the ability to see the stars again, or is this something old people will tell their grandchildren about in the luminescence of their homes like crazy old people?
Or, perhaps you already do. If not, perhaps sponsor some events where this can happen in certain locations.
— Michael Williams, Murfreesboro
Editors note: The photo is the real thing. Photographer Renee Lowery captured this Shutterbug winner in South Carolina. She advises that she lit the tree with flashlights and recorded the image with a 30-second exposure at f-stop 2.8.
In answer to the second question, Rocky Alvey of the Dyer Observatory in Nashville says there are numerous places in Tennessee to view the Milky Way. In fact, nearly any place 20 or so miles outside the city will allow you to do so. Choose low-humidity nights near the time of a new moon.
Places like the Natchez Trace, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park provide great locations to view the stars and the Milky Way.
My wife and I read your magazine many years but moved outside your turf for the first time since 1978. We miss it.
Enclosed, please find a $30 check for a three-year subscription. We look forward to getting it. All of you have done a great job, and we thank you.
— Gary and Sharon Green
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