the fifth-grade class at the Cherokee Nation Immersion School in
Tahlequah use computers throughout the school day, their eyes light
up when education services staff let them borrow iPhones.
seconds they cluster around the gadgets, happily tapping out messages
like countless other cell-phone users.
unlike most, their texts aren't in English - they're in Cherokee.
they aren't using specially modified iPhones. Every one of the estimated
100 million global iPhone users running iOS 4.1, the latest version
of the smart phone's software released last month, already have
support for the distinct Cherokee language within their device.
Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, said the decision
by Apple Inc. to make Cherokee one of the 40 languages supported
by iPhones isn't just a great honor, it's a true milestone for the
might think it's a novelty, but where you can see the importance
is when you remember 1822, when the Cherokee written language was
developed," he said. "It was also seen as a novelty, but
within 10 years 90 percent of Cherokees were literate."
hope is that smart-phone support will ensure the Cherokee language,
which now has an estimated 8,000 fluent and over 200 literate, remains
healthy and useful to younger tribe members in an increasingly digital
default, our children have a way to learn the language in a method
they're familiar," he said.
tech workers within the tribe are hoping the language support will
open up a flood of apps to make it vastly easier for Cherokees to
stay within the language.
Cherokee Nation Immersion School, a facility run by the nation that
has children communicating solely in Cherokee from first bell to
last, has incorporated iMacs loaded with the language and a Cherokee
keyboard since Apple's full-scale computer started supporting it
Erb, an education services group worker for the nation, said the
computers are a great way to learn Cherokee within the classroom,
but that influence can be limited.
have to figure out ways to get the children to stay in the language,"
he said. "Once you leave these doors, it's all English."
there's seemingly little modern youths love more than communicating
on cell phones. Lauren Hummingbird, a fifth-grade student at the
immersion school, said she uses three different cell phones within
her family and was excited to hear that she'll be able to use some
love it," she said.
said the process of including Cherokee on the iPhone began three
years ago. The tribal government has a sales team in touch with
Apple and other companies, and workers passed on documentation for
the language to Apple.
an easy group to work with," he said.
they're also a company that keeps a tight lid on potential developments,
so tribe employees didn't know it was coming until the beta version
of iOS 4.1 came out a month before its widespread release. Tech
workers for the nation helped fine-tune the language support.
said the Cherokee Nation had already released several iPhone apps
before the language support came out, including a Cherokee dictionary,
the Cherokee constitution and a portal for the Cherokee Phoenix,
the nation's official newspaper.
having the language embedded in the phone itself will make development
of apps that use the Cherokee language much easier.
to develop an app in Cherokee took some trickery," he said.
iPad will hopefully get Cherokee language support for its virtual
keyboard in the near future, as Apple plans to soon have the same
operating system running the iPhone and iPad, Erb said.
Cherokee within your iPhone
All but the first generation of iPhones can support the language.
make sure your phone is running the latest version of the iOS operating
system. If its not, connecting your phone to iTunes on your
computer will give you a prompt to upgrade.
your phone is upgraded, first click on the gear-shaped settings
icon on the phone.
settings select general, then keyboard and
then international keyboard.
add new keyboard, and youll get a list of all
the languages supported. Select Cherokee, the fourth
up the keyboard using any action that requires it, such as text
messaging. The keyboard should now have a globe button at the bottom
left. Pressing it will toggle the keyboard between English and Cherokee.