The Stroke of a Pen

Shan Goshorn 
4” X 4” X 10.5” 
Arches watercolor paper splints printed with archival inks, acrylic paint, artificial sinew

This single-weave Cherokee style basket is woven with reproductions of three different documents, all representative of important pieces of Cherokee history.

The pale horizontal splints are from an original document in the Helmerich Center for American Research (Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa OK) of Sequoyah’s original syllabary, written in his own hand. His scripted calligraphy is quite different from the version commonly used today as his characters were adapted for the printing press. The vertical splints are a composition written by a contemporary Cherokee man in the syllabary, describing what it is like to grow up- and to be- Cherokee. The center rust splints are my grandmother’s memoirs of her boarding school experiences.

Together, these documents illustrate the power of Native people’s
writings. Not only was Sequoyah’s conception of a way to record the syllables of his language pure genius, but the usage of the written word to create our own record for future generations is imperative to maintaining the integrity of our culture. History is typically written by the victors; when we write our own stories, we present a different side to the history that appears in books.

The “X” pattern emphasizes “our mark” on history, by the power of our own pen.