Thursday, June 27, 2019

Was There a Written Language in North America When the Europeans Arrived?

The Iroquois, long understood to have a written language, lived in Longhouses (a good home for people who intend to stay in the same place for a long time). The longhouse was large and took a lot of time to build and decorate, and many families of the same clan—as many as 60 people—lived together in the same longhouse. The houses, like those of their Algonquin neighbors, were built similar to wigwams (wigwôm), and made of saplings covered with sheets of elm bark—called wickiups in the southwest. The Algonquin referred to them as wiigiwaaws or miigiwaams.
Traditional Iroquois Long House had a door on each end and during the winter were covered with animal skins to keep some of the cold air out

To build the Iroquois longhouse, the Indians set poles in the ground, with horizontal poles supporting them. By bending a series of the set poles, the Iroquois were able to create an arc shaped roof for the longhouse.  The frame of the Iroquois longhouse was made by sewing bark and using that as shingles. These longhouses had no windows making it very dark inside, and had a single door at each end, which were usually covered with animal skins during the winters to keep some of the cold air out. 
    The only light was provided by fires built in pits along the hallway and shared by families, with the smoke exhausting through openings in the ceiling. These longhouses had no windows, just the doors at each end and the fire holes, none of which provided much light. In fact, early missionaries wrote about how dark the inside of the houses were. 
    Each Iroquois longhouse was designed so as many as twenty families or more could live in it. Mats and wood screens divided the longhouse into separate rooms, or booths with a single family occupying a booth on either side of the hallway. Each booth having a raised wooden platform forming a second story for sleeping. The Iroquois were farming people who lived in permanent villages, though the men sometimes built wigwams for themselves when they were going on hunting trips, but women might live in the same longhouse their entire life.
    The Iroquois have six nations today, though originally there were only five until the Tuscarora tribe joined the federation, and they speak six languages: Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Tuscarora. The languages are different enough that speakers of the six languages cannot easily understand each other. However, these languages are all related to one another just as the European language of Spanish, French and Italian are all related to each other.
    The indigenous Cherokee people were native to the southeast—Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, as well as North Carolina. They spoke a Cherokee language called Tsalagi Gawonihisdi, which was one of the Iroquoian family of languages.
    The Iroquois, who lived in the northeast woodland area, originally called themselves the Kanonsionni, meaning “people of the longhouse,” and today call themselves Haudenosaunee or Six Nations. They were skilled woodworkers, steaming wood so it could be bent to make curved tools, with beadwork, basketry and wood-carving the most common crafts.
    The Iroquois Language is bigger than just one tribe, and has a long history among several Native American tribes claimed to date back 4000 years. While considered a language in and of itself, Iroquoian is a family of languages, including at least ten other sub-languages or dialects. Iroquoian is also related to other Native American language families including Siouan and Caddoan, however these language families are different enough that it is difficult to recognize most words due to differences in pronunciation and usage.
According to Dr. Joshua Sipper, who holds a PhD in Education, a Master's of Education, and a Bachelor's in English, with his work in post-secondary education, the Iroquois people, along with the Iroquoian language is divided into two parts, with the northern dialects spoken by the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. The southern dialect includes only Cherokee, still spoken widely among the Cherokee people today.
    Contrary to popular belief, the northern Iroquois, who are the better known by name, did not have a written language, only the southern Iroquois, or Cherokee, and the only Indian tribe in North America, possessed a written language. However, this language did not have a vocabulary of one letter meaning and several letters making up a word (like English and the vast majority of languages), but had a syllabary, where each symbol or character represented a syllable. Other such languages are Japanese, Vai, Yi (eastern Asia), Creole, Ndyuka, Shaozzhu Tuhsua.
    As an example, the letter “B” has a singular meaning in English and has to be connected to other vowels or consonants to form a word (Bee; Baby, Beautiful); however, a form of the letter “B” as a syllable represents the sound “twe.” As such, a syllable represents for the most part a sound or idea.
The Iroquoian Leader Sequoyah who developed the only writing system for indigenous (Indians) in North America

It was Sequoyah (Sequoia), a Cherokee Leader in the early 1800s, who organized the Cherokee language into written sounds that, when combined, created words. Born in North Carolina in 1775, he was the son of a white Virginia fur trader and an Indian mother named wuh-teh of the Paint clan in Tennessee country. He was an accomplished silversmith, painter, and warrior, serving with the U.S. Army in the Creek War in 1813-184. He was raised by his mother and never learned to speak English, or to read and write. However, over time he became convinced that the secret of what he considered the white people’s superior power was written language, which enabled them to accumulate and transmit more knowledge than was possible for a people dependent on memory and word of mouth. Accordingly, about 1809 he began working to develop a system of writing for the Cherokees, believing that increased knowledge would help them maintain their independence.
    Sequoyah convinced his people of the utility of his syllabary by transmitting messages between the Cherokees of Arkansas (with whom he went to live) and those of the east and by teaching his daughter and other young people of the tribe to write. The simplicity of his system enabled pupils to learn it rapidly, and soon Cherokees throughout the nation were teaching it in their schools and publishing books and newspapers in their own Cherokee language—the first Cherokee Phoenix newspaper, printed completely in Cherokee, appeared on March 6, 1828.
In the Iroquoian Syllabary, the two sounds “li” and “hi” can be combined to form the word “lehi”

By way of example, the way to write the name of Lehi, is shown above using the sounds for the English name of Lehi (however, it is not a word in Iroquoian since these characters have sound meanings and not letter value.
    Today there are approximately 22,000 Cherokee speakers out of more than 300,000 tribal members. It is the only Southern Iroquoian language and differs significantly from the other Iroquoian languages. In addition, Iroquoian Cherokee is a polysynthetic language and uses a unique syllabary writing system.
    The point is, this syllabary was created in the early 1800s and had no similarity with either Reformed Egyptian, in which the Book of Mormon was written, or in Hebrew, which the Nephites spoke. Even so, it did not exist in any written form before 1809. In addition, no other written language of any Indigenous people of North America existed or is known to have existed at the time the Europeans arrived, nor since been discovered. Lastly, the entire concept is based on sounds, not letters, and therefore is limited in its scope unlike Egyptian or Hebrew.
    As can clearly be seen, the fact that some claim the Iroquois had a written language when comparing the North America location to the Book of Mormon Land of Promise, are inaccurate and totally without merit.


  1. When Europeans met the Miꞌkmaq tribe in Canada they were using hieroglyphs that can be compared to the symbols on the Anthon transcript. It is not certain how ancient their writing system is.

    Miꞌkmaq hieroglyphic writing study

  2. This comment is off the subject but it is so important that I thought I would mention it. This morning the Deseret News published a story in Latter-Day Saint Living weekly section C an article written by Daniel Peterson. The title of the article is "Similarities between ancient Inca beliefs and a Possible Visit by Christ to Peru. It is a very interesting article and something that I think needs to be discussed since we know that the BOM lands are in Peru. The article explores the similarities between the BOM and the stories written about the coming of the white man of great stature. The Catholic chronicler of Peru names Pedro de Cieza de Leon wrote the information around the year 1550 which was less than 20 years after the Inca's were destroyed. The similarities are striking.

    So Del, I don't remember if you've discussed this in depth or not. We know we have stories of Christ or the Great White God visiting Peru as discussed in the article. Are there any in Meso or North America? The fact that the stores are so detailed in Peru however means to me that the appearance took place in Peru and not elsewhere.

    This story needs to be added to the comparison list between the different models as a pointer to the correct BOM lands.