If it weren't for Sequoyah, a huge piece of Native American culture might be missing. Thanks to this Cherokee born around 1766, the Cherokee language is not a mystery. Sequoyah created the syllabary, or syllable alphabet, for his people and taught the Cherokee how to read and write. The ability to communicate via the written word helped make the Cherokee Nation a leader among tribes everywhere. The giant sequoia tree is named after the man who felt that the pen would outlast the sword -- and he was right. Sequoyah died in 1843 of natural causes.