Searching for Sequoyah

Documentary | James Fortier (Ojibway) & LeAnne Howe (Choctaw)

Searching for Sequoyah is the first documentary feature to chronicle the legendary accomplishments and mysterious death of the famed Cherokee visionary, Sequoyah, whose English name was George Guess. While much is known about Sequoyah’s many accomplishments, very little is known about the man himself. The greatest mystery is not that he created the Cherokee writing system, or syllabary, but rather the details of his final journey to Mexico and the circumstances of his death.

After removal from their southeast homelands separated some Cherokees as far as Mexico, Sequoyah set out late in life to reunite the Cherokee people in their new capitol, Tahlequah – Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). From Tuskegee, Tennessee to Zaragoza, Mexico – Searching for Sequoyah takes viewers on a journey retracing Sequoyah’s final quest, the mystery surrounding his death and the legacy he left behind.

57 minutes

Release: November 1, 2021

Expiration: October 31, 2024

Distributor: APT

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James Fortier (Ojibway)

JAMES M. FORTIER is an enrolled member of the Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation (formerly known as Ojibways of the Pic River First Nation), located in Ontario, Canada. Born in Ontario and raised in the Chicago area, James set out for California at the ripe age of 20 to complete film school at San Francisco State University. His first documentary, Alcatraz Is Not An Island screened at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in 2001 and aired nationally on PBS and APTN in Canada.

LeAnne Howe (CHOCTAW)

LEANNE HOWE is an enrolled Choctaw citizen. She is the on-camera narrator, and writer for the 90-minute PBS film, Indian Country Diaries Spiral of Fire, 2006, set in North Carolina homelands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Howe is an author and poet, and teaches at the University of Georgia; this is her third film collaboration with Fortier.

Joshua Nelson (Cherokee)

JOSHUA NELSON is President's Associates Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a native Oklahoman. He is Chair of the Film & Media Studies Department, Associate Professor of English, and affiliated faculty with Native American Studies and Women's & Gender Studies, focusing on American Indian literature and film.

Walt Pourier

Vice Chair

Walt is Oglala Lakota and created the logo for Urban Rez. He is Creative Director, owner of Nakota Designs Advertising Designs and Graphics. Executive Director of the Stronghold Society nonprofit dedicated to instilling hope and supporting youth movements through Live Life Call To Action Campaigns.


Project Coordinator​

(Hataža Mani Winga)​

"Cinema Aficionado"

Role: Jordana is excited to engage with different Native/Indigenous communities. Her passion for working with youth will help develop the Native Youth Media Project. She will also assist with the Creative Shorts Fellowship (CSF) to help organize deliverables for filmmakers.