In his book, The Medici Effect, Frans Johansson, encourages people to spend time at the intersections of cultures and the disciplines of knowledge and thought. He tells how this practice was crucial for Cherokee Indian, Sequoyah:
In 1809 a mixed-blood Cherokee Indian named Sequoyah learned to sign his name on his silversmith work. That was his introduction to the written language. A few years later, while serving in the U.S. Army during the Creek War, he saw American soldiers write letters, read orders, and record historical events of the war. Sequoyah realized that his fellow men in Cherokee Nation could derive spectacular benefits from a written language. Sequoyah, whose mother was a member of the Paint Clan and whose father was a Virginia fur trader, spent the next twelve years developing a written Cherokee language. When he was done he had constructed a syllabary that consisted of eighty-five characters representing each syllable in the Cherokee language. The syllabary was so easy to learn that within weeks thousands of Cherokees could read, and it gave Cherokee Nation the ability to create the first Native American newspaper, The Cherokee Phoenix.
Sequoyah is the only person in the world known to have created an entire written language on his own and is considered a genius to this day. Sequoyah got the idea for creating a written language after spending time in a culture very different from his own. This is … an example of the force of globalization. That force, as defined by the movement of people between cultures and countries, is regaining a strength it has not had for more than a hundred years.
Source: Frans Johansson, The Medici Effect: What Elephants and Epidemics Can Teach Us About Innovation (Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business School Press, 2006), 22.
Dr. Geoff Pound.
Image: “Sequoyah is the only person in the world known to have created an entire written language on his own and is considered a genius to this day.”