Okla. Microsoft and Cherokee Nation officials celebrated the
integration of the Cherokee language into the new Windows 8 operating
system on Dec. 19 at Sequoyah High School.
Cherokee is the first Native American language to be integrated
into a Windows system. Sixteen CN language translators and other
staff members worked with Microsoft to prepare for the integration
of Cherokee into Windows 8.
"On behalf of Microsoft, it's our honor and pleasure to be here
to announce the language interface pack officially available for
the Cherokee language on the Windows 8 platform operating system,"
Carla Hurd, Microsoft Local Language Program manager, said. "My
hat goes off to all of the translators, all of the staff, all of
the support that went into this huge effort. I think of this as
just the beginning. We've already started on Office 2013, which
is the next step. It's an even bigger project. Microsoft products
are everywhere, and your language will in turn be everywhere."
More than 20 years ago, Microsoft employee Tracy Monteith, an
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen, asked the company to include
his native language in the computer's core operating system. It
wasn't until 2010 that CN language technologists met with Monteith
and others at Microsoft to get the project going.
A team of translators was assembled, ranging from tribal employees,
community speakers and Cherokee college students.
"It became a rewarding experience for me to know that in the
future the language is going to be there. I'm just proud to be a
part of this effort and being a translator for Microsoft. And I
thank the Microsoft people for allowing us to do this," CN translator
Russell Feeling said.
Lois Leach, a 56-year-old clerk in the Nation's Roads Department,
logged more than 100 volunteer hours during the past year translating
computer terms that did not exist when the Cherokee language originated.
"You don't look at yourself really doing anything that huge until
you see it come together," Leach said. "It's amazing to think our
work will be shared all over the world."
Principal Chief Bill John Baker said Cherokee translators translated
more than 180,000 words for the program and that this was the largest
Cherokee translation project since the Bible was translated in the
"You have done great work, and you are truly heroes of the Cherokee
Nation," Baker said to the translators.
He added that the integration of Cherokee into Windows 8 "will truly
keep the language alive."
"For a people to lose their language is probably the most terrible
thing that can befall a people," he said. "We thank Microsoft for
putting their great resources to use. They'll never make any money
off this project, we know that, but they're going to help keep the
Cherokee spirit, the Cherokee language alive forever."
In November, the tribe partnered with Google to add Cherokee
to it email service Gmail. Cherokee speakers can now exchange emails
using Gmail and instant message chats entirely in the Cherokee syllabary.
In March 2011, Google added Cherokee as an interface language,
meaning anyone who reads and writes Cherokee can look up virtually
anything on the World Wide Web using the Cherokee language.
In another effort to perpetuate the language, this past fall
Cherokee translators dusted off the numeric system developed by
Sequoyah, the inventor of the Cherokee syllabary. Translation Specialist
John Ross from the CN Translation Department studied and figured
out the numeric system in an effort to create a font to make it
useful for printing and computers.
Sequoyah created unique, single symbols for numbers 1 through
19 and numbers 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100. So to create
the number 31, the symbol for 30 and 1 would be used together or
to create the number 500 the symbol for 5 and 100 would be used
together. Ross created a symbol for 0 and created symbols for 1
billion and 1 trillion.
In 2010, the Unicode system was introduced for the Cherokee
language. The numbering system associates numbers to language characters
and creates a uniform system for writing and reading Cherokee on
"Unicode is the international standard for all computer technology
now cell phones, computers, video games
digital uses Unicode to display languages," Language Technologist
Roy Boney said.
A European group called the Unicode Consortium determines computer
standards and a numbering system for languages. Language fonts receive
their own numbering systems using the consortium's standards.
"Cherokee has been assigned a (number) code group by the Unicode
Consortium. So it is standard across the world," Boney said.
In 2010, the Cherokee syllabary became available on iPhones
and the iPod Touch after three years of developing software with
In 2009, Facebook added Cherokee to its popular social web site.
Boney is one of 14 translators on Facebook who helps Cherokee people
maintain cultural ties by allowing speakers registered on the site
to translate a glossary of common Facebook words and phrases.