CATOOSA, OK The Cherokee Nation celebrated with Microsoft
officials today on the groundbreaking progress being made by translators
in the Cherokee Language Program.
An event was held for 17 Cherokee translators at Hard Rock
Hotel & Casino Tulsa to coincide with International Mother Language
Day, a United Nations event to honor the more than 6,000 diverse
The Cherokee Nation is among the first tribes to start a formal
translation department using its fluent speakers. Last month, they
translated 150,000 modern English terms into Cherokee for Microsoft's
Office Online. For the first time, it allows users to create Word,
PowerPoint and Excel documents in the Cherokee syllabary.
"When we first started out in translation, I never dreamed
we would come this far with so many projects and products now offering
the Cherokee language, so this is amazing," said translator Durbin
Feeling, a leading Cherokee linguist who wrote the Cherokee dictionary
and worked on the Mircrosoft project. "As more people learn about
us, there seems to always be new translation projects to work on."
Microsoft's Senior International Project Engineer Alfred Hellstern,
Account Manager for Native American Accounts Don Lionetti and engineer
Tracy Monteith, who is a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokees,
gave the translators a plaque on behalf of the technology company.
"Microsoft put efforts into this, but the bulk of the heavy
lifting was by translators at the Cherokee Nation," Lionetti said.
"You're in a very elite group since there is no other tribal nation
that has their language in the Windows operating system and Microsoft
Office products, which is a testament to the translators' passion
and dedication to be able to do this."
To date, the Cherokee Nation has worked with Apple, Google,
Microsoft, Yale University and the Gilcrease Museum on various translation
"The Cherokee language is one of the most important aspects
of who we are as a tribe, and many elements of our culture are contained
in our language," Cherokee Language Program Manager Roy Boney said.
"Our language offers more than communication. It transmits cultural
knowledge and a mode of thinking that is uniquely Cherokee. To lose
our language would mean a huge loss of part of our heritage, and
the goal of the Cherokee Nation Language Program is to ensure our
language lives on for future generations."
While the spoken Cherokee language has existed for centuries,
a reading and writing system called the Cherokee syllabary was invented
by Cherokee statesman Sequoyah in 1821. It is still used today by
Native speakers and students at the Cherokee Immersion Charter School
Cherokee Nation News Release
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