The Cherokee Nation and Internet Technology: Saving a Culture by Revitializing its Language

Uploaded by GoogleTechTalks on 24.10.2011

>> CORNELIUS: Good morning. And thank you for joining us. My name is Craig Cornelius.
I'm a member of the International Engineering Group. And I'm pleased to introduce you to
several members of the Cherokee Nation. About almost two years ago, I had a chance meeting
with a member of the Cherokee Nation taking him to a camp. And I mentioned that I was
at Google. He mentioned that, "Oh, we have people in our company who'd like to make connections
with Google because we've been doing a lot with trying to preserve our language and we'd
love to have Google help us work on Google's tools for the Cherokee Nation and the Cherokee
language." That led to a collaboration over the last year and a half. We have, as of March
of this year, a version of Google Web Search in the Cherokee language and I think you'll
learn an awful lot about the tech--the way the Cherokee Nation has used technology. We
have three visitors today, Joseph Erb, Roy Boney and Jeff Edwards, and they will tell
you a lot about how the Cherokee Nation is using technology to keep their culture alive
and vibrant for centuries to come. >> ERB: [SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE] people
of Google, hello. Oh, you can't hear me? Okay. I'll squeeze closer. Maybe my volume? Yeah.
Or no? Is that better? >> Yes.
Joseph Erb [INDISTINCT] Joseph is what they call me, I guess you say it. We're from the
Cherokee Nation. We are a new department. Even though--we'll talk a little bit, a quick,
brief summary of the history and then what we've done with technology in the last few
years. And I think it'll be interesting because it will show you a different side of take
of technology and the cultures and communities that went from having different types--stages
of technology. So, you'll see that Cherokee people have actually embraced technology for
hundreds of years. And so we'll start that with some of our slides here and then we'll
get into some of the advancements we've made with Google and how it's important for us
to actually continue as a people to address these technology needs because of what occurs
with language loss and cultural loss if you don't--if you don't localize like your communities
and your language so [INDISTINCT] >> BONEY: Hello. My name is Roy and, you know,
Joseph was saying we're new to the department and we're the Language Technology Program
at Cherokee Nation. And what we do basically is we find that technology solutions for our
language and, you know, we have a unique written language which we'll talk about here. This
first slide is an image of the historical boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. You can
see it's got the outline, the blue, the red and the green that shows how it shrunk over
the years as the westward expansion occurred, you know, in United States history. So, that's
a map showing that. So, what happened is, you know, the Cherokees, we were in the first
groups that actually made a lot of a--we made treaties with England and all this. We were
one of the earliest documented traveled nations in the United States because we had this back
and forth relationship. This image here is an image of--they called it the three kings.
These were three Cherokee ambassadors that were sent to England to negotiate some terms
with the king at the time. When we show this, they show the--you know, the Cherokee Nation
has been around quite some time even before the United States itself and the--we've always
been, you know, educated people and we always try to keep ahead of, you know, what's going
on. And this is Sequoyah. Sequoyah is significant in Cherokee history because he's the one that
created the written language of the Cherokees. We've had the spoken language but we did not
have the written form, so he created a syllabary and the sample of that is right below of the
title that Sequoyah in Cherokee. So, Sequoyah came up with the handwriting system of Cherokee
Syllabary in the 18th. But he was--he'd been working on it, like, in the mid-eighteens
but he had several problems. You know, at the time people weren't accepting of it. They
thought, you know, it was a lofty pursuit and maybe it wouldn't happen or it shouldn't
happen for various reasons. But around 1820, he had finally finalized an idea of what it
would be and he simplified the--he didn't simplify it but he broke down the entire language
into 85 characters. So, this image here shows the original handwritten syllabary by Sequoyah
and you can see there is the two versions here. You can see the first part, one looks
like a cursive writing and next to it, you see like this, first, I'm thinking, a little
R next to it kind of. That's showing how it's a hand--in cursive to the typeface and we'll
talk a bit more about that in a second. But this chart shows a comparison of the two.
This was adapted by the Cherokee Nation Council in 1821. So, what happened is during this
time of history, we had the--we call it the removal era in which the United States adopted
the policy of removing the Indians from the east and moving them toward the west. So,
what was going on is the Cherokee Nation needed to come back to this idea somehow. So, the
writing system was part of that. And so, we adopted, you know, the handwritten version
as Sequoyah did. As you can see here, there's the cursive. They simplified to that--to the
middle typeface. So, we established a printing press in the 1820s. There's an image of one
of the presses. That's actually in Tahlequah, Oklahoma now, that's where the Cherokee Nation
is based now. You can come through the museum and see the printing press there. There are
some images of the metal type. So if you deal with a lot of type, you know how tiny those
things are. Below is an image of the typeface taken from the original press itself. You
can see it was greatly modified from the handwritten to this as is, you know, the nature of that
adaptation. And so, this is the typeface that we wound up with. We've had the same typeface
since the 1820s until recently when the--we still, this is base model but we're just now
getting to the point where we can do sans serif typefaces and that type of thing with
the Cherokee language. This image here is the--actually, the first instance of a Cherokee
in print. You can see it. Right there is the first few verses of the book of Genesis from
the Bible. This is printed in 1827. And so, a couple of months later, where is the close
up of it? The printing press was established with the relationship between the Cherokee
Nation and the American Board Of Foreign Missionaries and what they were, you know, the goal it
was to, you know, be missionaries to the Cherokee Nation. But in part of that process, they
helped develop the printing press. And the Cherokee Nation contracted with a foundry
in Boston called the Grille Foundry that actually made the typeface letters themselves. But
this is the first time it was ever printed. It was in a newsletter to their supporters
in the 1800s or 1827. And this here is the result of all that. The Cherokee Nation wanted
to print a newspaper. So this is the Cherokee Phoenix, and that was--the first issue was
printed in 1828. This isn't the first issue but they all look like this pretty much. It's
printed in English and in Cherokee. And at the time, you know, this was a very--it was
the first Native American language newspaper ever printed and it's still printed today.
But it was used to--as kind of like a, like I said, a PR piece to inform everyone including
the Cherokees and everyone else in the United States of what was happening with the removal
policy. You know, Washington wanted to remove the Cherokees and other tribes from their
homelands. So, the interesting thing about it is that not only did it circulate here
in the continental US, it also made its way to Europe at the time and that created a very--an
awareness of our language in Europe. So our language itself, the written version has been
like, studied ever since. People have always had a fascination with it. Yeah, it's a rare
accomplishment for a single person to come with a writing system, so Sequoyah has become
sort of like a big hero, you know, mythological figure almost. But we'll get back to this
point a bit later before I--that's important to us. But we'll--I guess we go through a
little bit. >> ERB: So, this is--what's exciting is that
even though we weren't successful in keeping our land and we were shoved out by the United
States but during--we won in the Supreme Court but people don't realize that the United States
Supreme Court say we didn't have to move, but Andrew Jackson did. So, we ended up getting
moved. And this is a shot--we produced a film a few years back and this is a little screen
shot of it in front of a map and it shows you where we ended up today. After the removal,
it was one of the first things is we did the printing press. And what was needed is that
we rebuilt our society and one of the things we started with is education. And in education,
we educated men and women which was unusual at the time because if, you know, we think
of equal rights and--can you imagine in the 1800s, Cherokees paid women the same as men.
We educated all the women and men from 6 years old to 21. We had 61 schools and two universities.
And this is one of the most leading cutting edges, you know, education systems in the
world because we educated the entire population for free. So, we had printing presses back
then. We made books, materials, some religious, some academic. So, all this occurred and technology
are still advanced. Cherokees were the first to have a telephone west of the Mississippi.
So, we were actually technologically were more advanced and you think, well, what would
make people still advance like this even though we were 80% to 90% literate compared to the
13% of whites at the time? Why would you want to care about this new technology that came
out? Why were we an earlier adopter? So people came in, salesmen, like they do it still today
at Cherokee Nation and they got these two guys that would test the technology. They
ran a cord. And these guys had a conversation. And they tried to discuss, well, are they
going to get it? The reason they did is that this one statement is if they wanted to get
it, would they? This is the reason they got it. Talks in Cherokee. If you can use the
technology in your language, it's your technology. It's not a white technology. It's not, you
know, a German technology or Korean technology. It's your technology when your language is
utilized in it. So we had the first telephones. And this guy, I don't know if you guys know
who Will Rogers is, but he was a mixed blood Cherokee. And his technology was the radio.
And he was a satirist which, if you know anything about Cherokee, we're--we like to laugh a
lot. And he made a lot of jokes and teased about political stuff. He was like a lot of
comedians today joking about politics and all and he brought a lot of awareness of Cherokee
people back then. And so, he also used technology for us and that was really early on. He bought
radios for Cherokee schools and stuff, so that they'd be aware. Again, adopting the
latest technology before other people. Here. >> As you can see here, this is a typewriter
and it just kind of shows that, you know, throughout history, the Cherokees have continued
to keep up with technology. I believe this one is around 1970.
>> Yeah. That was [INDISTINCT] >> Little earlier than that. And so, just
throughout history, they've continued to keep on top of technology. And that's a really
neat piece to see there. And that's just a document that was typed up on a typewriter,
I guess, in March of 1917. I mean, is this you?
>> I mean, the typewriter. >> Oh, and this is just kind of more of the
paper going over to Europe and it kind of preserved our language by going over there
because it kept it documented and kept it alive so.
>> BONEY: Like I mentioned [INDISTINCT] we bring this up because, you know, it created--the
paper making its way to Europe created an awareness of our language, you know, internationally
and that's held through ever since. And this slide here is taken from, you know, the type
of [INDISTINCT], if you deal with a lot of fonts, unless you know who this guy is. But
he was working on a Cherokees font back in the '70s. Unfortunately, this font never quite
made it out but this is an example of how, you know, people have always been interested
in Cherokees language. And it helped us out a lot. What happened is this here is one of
the first Cherokees fonts designed by actual Cherokee speakers. This is from around 1991-92.
Again, you can see it's based on the old typeface. It's slightly modified but it's got the basic
elements of it there. The--in this particular slide, it's showing this is a--by Joan Touset
or Touset, I suppose. So she was a student at Yale and she got a grant to make a Cherokee
typeface of fonts and this is what she came up with. And this model is based on that earlier
chart we showed you. And Cherokees Nation uses as a model for the font that we had for--around
2000, the Cherokee Nation came out with this own font. And this is what it looked like.
And, you know, it was good in the sense that we had a Cherokee font that at least we could
type up documents and we--it was like a fancy typewriter at the time, we just could type
in and print it. It's all we could do. It was not Unicode compliant because it was mapped
to English characters on, like, the keyboard. So, it looks Cherokee but technically it's
not. And that, you know, if we wanted to use technology other than just, you know, printing
stuff out, we were still just kind of stuck in the air until we came up with Unicode.
But this is an image of the Cherokee Nation Headquarters in Tahlequah. This--we don't
actually work in that building; we're housed elsewhere but that's where we used to be.
But, yeah, you want to switch? Okay. >> And 2003, the Cherokee Nation did a language
survey of our language and they found that less than 10% of people under the age of 40
were font. So, we kind of went back in history again where we educated everyone. We started
at school [INDISTINCT] is the name. That's a Cherokee school. And we currently have around
90 students three and four year old, all the way up to sixth grade. And our students all
have one-to-one Mac laptops and our language is supported on Mac. And unfortunately, with
having a Cherokee school there, you can't just go to the store and buy Cherokee materials.
So everything has to be made in-house. So we really had to get busy pretty quick. We
wanted our students at the school to basically have everything that a, you know, an English
school would have. So we just started getting with our translators and creating this stuff.
And so we're trying to give them everything that you would have at an English school,
except in Cherokee. This is an older--about sixth grade document right there. That's the
digestive system and it's kind of gross looking but they need to learn it, I guess. And so
we had a lot of fun making this stuff because, you know, it's never been made before and
so. And of course, we have the solar system and we know the planets they're at. And of
course, there's the United States. Again, all this stuff, we just have to make and when
we adopted Unicode, it made it a lot easier to make this stuff because someone could work
on it and we could send it to someone else and they could work on it. Before, it didn't
really work that way so. And this is just one of our students before we had computers
at the school. You know, they've got the old pencil and paper, and it's taken a really
long time. And now that they have their computers, it's a lot, you know, a lot better process.
And what we're going to show you here is a little animation that we made. We're competing
with Spongebob and Dora The Explorer and all this stuff in English and so we had to try
to figure out ways to, you know, keeps the kids engaged and keep them in the language
because once the kids leave our school, not very many of the parents are fluent and so
once they leave school they go back into an English world and so what we're trying to
do is create stuff for them outside of school to keep them, you know, in Cherokee thoughts.
So this a little animation we made for them. [VIDEO CLIP] All right, don't blow your ears
out too bad on that. And this is the Cherokee Nation Non-Unicode font. This has been around,
I'm not really for sure how long, I guess 90s? Yeah, '99-2000 and this was our first
font that we actually had where we were able to type. It served a purpose because, you
know, our language we could use it on a computer but like Roy said before it was more or less
type it up and print it out, you couldn't really do anything else with it. And as you
can see there, I don't know if you can see it really well there, there's all the code
points for the Unicode. >> [INDISTINCT]
>> Oh, English I'm sorry for the English on there. I don't know if you can see that very
well. And then that's our layout, our keyboard layout and we'll show you a little bit later
the one that we created but that's basically how to get a Cherokee--if you had the old
Non-Unicode font installed, if you do the lower case and the upper case and hit that
key then you're going to get that particular character so, learning Cherokee before Unicode
was--it was pretty difficult because you had to remember where 85 characters were and which,
you know, when you had to hit shift and when you had to hit a Nine to get that character
so it was--it was pretty complicated if you work with it a really long time then, you
know, obviously you would memorize it but typing was pretty painful during this time.
All right. >> Okay. You know we keep talking about Unicode
just because of the importance of what it did for our language of--yeah all that material
that Jeff showed at first was created with that old font that wasn't Unicode, so as I
said again we were--we were stuck but just, you know, making something, printing it out
and having a poster or paper. And we wanted to move beyond that and the reason that we
introduced the Macs in the school so instead of, you know, on that OS10, I think 10.3 they
started supporting a Cherokee Unicode font and keyboard on the system so that--keyboard
layout that was just up, that was, put in to their Apple LS, the shift keys but there
was also another keyboard layout that did the phonetic typing so, if you knew how to
spell like, just say it, you could type it out and it would switch the syllabar for you
just like kind of how a Japanese does, that type of thing. What we had in Cherokee, and
I said the reason it happened was because the Unicode, the Cherokee was adopted glyphs
for assigned code points, I guess around 1995 of the Cherokee Nation made an application
to the group and that went through the whole process and that's when--and we eventually
got pulled into the system and because of that we can move on to this. So this shot
here is our images--a screenshot of one of the fonts, we'll this is [INDISTINCT] in Cherokee
but you can see this in the Unicode point range for Cherokee it starts with the--it
looks like the "D" character after that first row, that's the "Ah" in Cherokee it' where
it starts and goes all the way down to the, the "B" which is the "Yuh." It looks like
a B but it's not. So Cherokee does have its own unique code point range in the Unicode
tables. So what happened is, you know, I said in 2003 Apple started supporting it but it
took a while to trickle down to the communities because we had that one font for the longest
time and everyone that used it, you know, a lot of our people that use it are older
and they don't quite understand in technical ideas you want--what this means so we said,
don't use that font anymore, use a Unicode font, and yeah, most of people like go what
does that even mean? You know, they kind of--they glaze over. But this group here, the Indigenous
Language Institute, there's a man named Chris Harvey that works for them and Chris had developed
one of the first keyboard layouts for the Cherokee language that followed that phonetic
typing system. And there's his website, it's, he's got a lot of fonts
for other native languages as well, they're all Unicode if you're interested in that,
you can go to his website and download the stuff. He makes keyboards as well, so we've
used his materials quite a lot ever since he's been doing this. But like I said, Apple
supported the language on the desktops or the computer OS here. so you can see--these
are some of our students at the school using their laptops, they can do everything in the
language they do all their homework in Cherokee now, they have blogs and wikis and emails
and everything else that you can do in English, they can do in Cherokee now. It's because
the school itself is--everything is taught in Cherokee from history, legacy, it's shown
on the maps as long as everything is in the language so they needed a way to use the language
in Cherokee in the modern context because, you know, the kids started off at a pre-k
and every year we keep adding a grade to the school. We're currently up to the 6th grade
but when we started doing this they were in the second or third--I think in third grade
and they needed technology in the room, you know, they were getting older and they keep
up with what the kids need today and they got to have this, so that's why we introduced
this to them at that time, so there they are doing their more homework there. And now it's--I
was like this picture because it shows you this a little girl, you know, who is using
the technology and she was like sitting and yeah she enjoys having her computer. You know,
if there's a problem with it we're the first ones to know, she'll tell us. Hey is there
something wrong with this thing? Would--I guess when the teacher's working with the
students of--some more shots there. So they really like this stuff and so they got--it
hit them where they live basically you know, before this, a computer to them was just another
machine they can do stuff on but now it wasn't really Cherokee friendly because you know,
using a font that's not UNICODE you know, has lots of problems. If you tried to email
something, you know, it's going to get all gobbledygook; it's not going to quite work
right. You couldn't use it in the website unless you made an image out of--you know,
they have all these problems, if you try to embed the font, it's just you know, not very
optimal until we started using UNICODE. But the great thing about all this is you know
we had the Cherokee Immersion School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, there's also a--we talked about
how the Cherokees were moved from the East to Oklahoma, there were some Cherokees that
stayed in the East, so in Cherokee North Carolina, there's the eastern band of Cherokees, that's
a separate tribal group. We're kind of related but that's a technically different government
system now versus ours. But they have a Cherokee Language Immersion School as well. So this
slide here, is a little video that we're going to play. We have video chats between the two
schools now, so the kids--you know at our school they're the ones in the little corner
there, get really excited because they get to see there's other children out there too
learning this language, yeah, because the Cherokee like many indigenous languages is
in danger of dying out, so this is all in an effort to you know, perpetuate the language.
It said--this clip is just between the two schools, we're interacting and we'll play
a little part of it there. They're teaching each other songs. You get the idea they enjoy using this stuff
and we had to move to this which--yeah, we had to hit them even harder where they live.
We'll let Jess take over that. >> JESS: So last year it's just about a year
now, we are officially on the iPhone and so you can imagine the technology advantage that
we had, because these kids were actually getting the toy where they were going to start texting
and doing all the stuff normal kids do, but they would give up Cherokee to text their
friends of course because you're going to text your friends, your cousins, all that.
Our kids didn't have to give up their language skill, they could still text each other in
Cherokee and they were so excited, they were beaming to have this day occur. And it gave
us the ability for contacts and folders and all this stuff, and recently we're able to
do some--some--we got in the CLDR, you know it's really weird it's great to talk to you
guys because a lot of times we talk about UNICODE and stuff back home, people just want
to see the surface area and we have to go to these kind of--it's probably like when
you go home and talk to your family in the holidays and you're like trying to get glaze
over UNICODE or programming what? I--so we were so excited to come and talk to you guys,
because these are texts, I--we have elders texting us. We didn't realize that actually
elders would pick-up devices in an Indian community and start texting us. So we'll have
people in their '70s like--they're like, "Ha!" and they're texting when you're busy, you
know, you work pretty hard and all of a sudden you're getting a text from a 70 year old person
you have to respond to. They're an elder speaker and in our culture you have to respond, so
you can see us--actually this is when we were translating the Google search engine and these
guys were texting other speakers to see if the translations for these new terminologies--if
the other groups liked them, so they were using their iPhones to actually [INDISTINCT]
because we were translating the search engine and we were sitting around in front of this--in
my office here, texting other speakers too and there was a big discussion in Cherokee
about this word and the meaning of this and concepts. And we made digital books in the
language, so we still--our printing in a way for digital devices. And this is Andy Payne,
he ran from LA to New York. It was a trans continental race and Andy Payne, well he was
a Cherokee guy, he won this--this 83 year--83 day race, it was a world wide race, at that
time in the--it was $25,000 dollars which was a lot money, and he won the race and,
you know later he did--became a lawyer or something but we were proud of that runner.
And Andy Payne is taught about a bunch of these traditional stories, Roy did the illustration
here and we can see this kids using the technology isn't something they think about just like
families don't care about code, and all the achievements you do. What they really care
about is how it works and they can get on there and chat with their friends, iChat,
read books, hear sounds, watch animations. But we got--made some friends, contacted Facebook
and we started doing Facebook in Cherokee. So if you could imagine, usually when you're
from a dominant language group or even a larger group, localization is something that you
don't really have to be concerned about to the degree, when you're such a small group,
because everyday when you're walking out of a building, when you're walking down the street,
it reinforces your reading skills, because you're seeing stuff in your language all the
time. Well finally we have our written language coming back, our literacy skills coming back
because you can do stuff on Facebook, this is a conversation I posted up here, it was
a snow day and I took off work and then [INDISTINCT] he's one of our--actually he's a living treasure
now. >> Well, finally we have our written language
coming back. Our literacy skills coming back because we can do stuff on Facebook. This
is a conversation I posted up here. It was a slow data and I took off work and then Durbin
Feeling is one of our--actually, he's living treasure now. He wrote the 1975 Dictionary--asked
me how did I do that and I said, "Well, I got an email from the chief." And he's like,
"Oh, hello," and we ended up having a conversation. But this stuff's possible because the technology
is starting to be there because of the localization. Some other people in our community--this is
Law Daze, a friend of ours. Wikipedia, you know, we're starting to get more and more
articles in Cherokee. We're not a lot yet, but, you know, if you think about it, a year
and having devices most of our community have to be online with mobile devices. Internet,
as far as--we're from a very poor rural community and so a lot of people have to get online
with their cell phones and so we think we're growing pretty, pretty good at this point.
If you could imagine, this is a huge achievement for us. If you think about, well, a third
grader, writing a blog, it happens all around the world. But it finally happens in Cherokee
and we were so excited that our language is being used by our children, which hadn't happened,
you know. We grew up. We were the first generation. [INDISTINCT] You know, there were a lot of
traumatic events from boarding schools and horrible things from statehood that occurred.
They are our grandparents and parents that caused them to think that it's not important
for us and then we came back and grew up and thought it is important. This is something
we need to do. And having little girls and little boys write blogs online is a giant
achievement for us. >> I guess that we probably recognized this
page. This is the newest language settings in Google. This just came out in March. I'm
working with Craig in the Cherokee Nation. We finally got, you know, Cherokee is one
of the interfaces language in the Google search engine. So there it is. There it is in the
list there if you want to go there and switch your language out. There's a shot of a homepage
there and you can see, you know, we have the keyboard too on there, so everything works
in Cherokee. In this keyboard layout, it follows that one that we showed earlier, you know,
from the old Cherokee Nation font. So then you can hit your shift key and it does that--it
follows that same pattern in there. What I think is really great that this is out there
especially people back home they can do website and stuff, you know. They can take the code
there and put that into the website. I think that's a pretty cool thing. But those are
just the other day, you know, it shows that we still--we use Google everyday and then,
you know, we had the Art Clokey birthday celebration the other day. We're not computer people.
If anyone knows us, we're artist. We have our Degrees in Art. We just got into technology
because of the needs that we were working in the language, but--so see, we used to do
stop motion animation with kids and they do the stories in the Cherokee language. So when
I've seen this, I'm like, "That's really cool." You know, Google decided to celebrate, you
know, the birthday of Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby. But, you know, it's in the Cherokee
language. You can see all the buttons in Cherokee in the interface and that's--it shows how
far we've come along as a people and a group with our language. And here's the sample of
doing an image search, you know, of a cat. You know, you have everything works in that
Cherokee there. So it's pretty neat. We're really fortunate that this occurred in the
video search. So there are several videos popping up on Youtube now, you know, in Cherokee
and, you know, they're titled in Cherokee. And again, because of the Unicode this is
happening. Now, for us, you know, a lot of people would take it for granted, you know,
but we're really happy that we got into the Unicode code point system there. This is just
the other day too. This is a Google Maps in Cherokee that you can label. You can create
your own maps there. So, you know, this technology is being used and is actively being used.
And that not only do our kids use it, the idea was to get children to use this technology.
What happened was they are using it but the older generation using it too because typically,
you know, the older people are kind of stereotyped and say, "We're not going to use this," or,
you know, they're scared of it but they latched on to technology because it happens in the
Cherokee language. So if you need to get products and devices and things that are actually in
Cherokee, [INDISTINCT] adapts that really quickly. Even like the iPhone, iPad, iPad
Touch and everything, when people seen that was a part of the OS and that it was just
on it, you know, a lot of people thought it was an app. They're like, "Hey, where can
I get that Cherokee app and what--" it's like, "No, it's actually on the OS." If you have
4.1 higher is when it started. So if you have, you know, you can go to store now and buy
one of these devices, Cherokee is on it and that people--yeah, at first it took a while
for grasp the idea. When they got it, it was really--there's a huge impact that it had
on our language. So this year is an image of--I think it's a Droid 2 there. So we're
hoping maybe we can get some help from this hearing from you guys. And, you know, since
it doesn't have Cherokee font in the system which has--the square is there but as many
of you know, you can rip your device which is what I did hear so I rooted a phone here
and I put a Cherokee font unto it. But it would be great, you know, if we actually have
Cherokee on the device or the OS itself without having to do this process because I get a
lot of people now around, you know, back in Telecall asking me if I can--because a lot
of people use Droids and there's--it's very popular and it's even surpassing, you know,
the iPhone we're at because, you know, people really like it. So we'd like to be on both
but I am always doing request now. And there is a Xoom tablet I had to root. So people
really want it but at this point, you know, that's--most people in our community don't
have the savvy to do this. It's kind of, you know, really technical searching for someone
that just doesn't know everything about how this stuff is and they're like, "Oh, I don't
want to go through this whole process." And you're going to root it and do this, but in
this show, it's possible. >> All right. So this is our paper. Our paper
is still going today. There's an app for that actually. You can see that we're still using
our language online. We're still--we're still going. We're still around. You know, people
always want to, "Are you still alive?" And we do have a live culture. The reason we do
all this stuff is so that we can, you know, we started teaching at the university just
so that we could teach the Cherokee to Greek community because we are opening at five more
emerging school soon and we need teachers for them. We're educating the next generation
of teachers and we wanted them technologically savvy so that they can talk about Unicode.
They can install keyboards. They all know how to root. They can actually get the community
by so there isn't a small group of us. There's teams of us in our community. And this is
an article. It's in Cherokee. And then if you don't read them, you can click on the
English button and see that on Cherokee Phoenix and read it in English as well. But we do,
you know, we do all this technology stuff because we have a culture, a language. We
have children that--statistics show that if they know their culture and language they
get out--they stay out of trouble. They're healthier. They're less prone to diabetes
and all the horrible stuff that occur. You need this kind of stuff to keep people happy
and healthy people and these are our children. You can see we're teaching them dances, traditional
foods, but we're able to do a lot of this stuff if all you do is ceremonies in the language.
You don't do it all the time and you eventually won't know what your prayer say. You won't
know what your culture is doing. You won't remember--you may remember just the few things,
but if you're getting a text every day in Cherokee constantly from all these people
and emails and blogs and you're reading stuff on Facebook in Cherokee, your language survives.
Your people survive. And Google has been a part of this process for us. You can Google
search, you know. Last year, we talked in Tsalagi, in our language. There's a little
under 50,000 which is great, you know. We're a small group. Now, there's a million and
a half in one year and still limited access in devices that we're still going. So we are
growing despite everything. We're like starting to take off with our language digitally and
so this is a renaissance for us. These children, they're all our youngest speakers. If you
could imagine, they speak very good Cherokee. They don't have an accent like us. It's very
smooth and we appreciate you. Wa do. And this is "Wa do" in Cherokee. Thank you. We have
one more, right? It's our contact information. If you guys ever want to contact us. This
is kind of our--the technology was changing so fast. We couldn't like--eventually what
happened in the last hundred years, if someone come along and they'd work on a typewriter
and things wouldn't change that much. And now, technology is changing so fast. Cherokee
Nation actually has a division that addresses that and we are the small but growing division
that deals with the localization and all the different needs that our language has in technology
issues and we're excited that Google--it's one of the first things that Google--it connects
us, you know, Google does on the Internet. And now we are able to connect on the language.
So if you could imagine those little kids on their computers, they're not having to
see that in English which is reinforcing everything we're doing to keep this culture that's thousand
of years old to this continent alive and Google has been a part of it so we appreciate your
time. If you have any questions, we're here. [SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE]
>> So please if you have questions. Let's go to the microphone. Let's do the mic and
[INDISTINCT] >> Okay. I was wondering the process work
coming out with Cherokee terms for new concepts. Is it--do you develop sort of your own sort
of names? Or are they sort of partially phonetic with the English terms? Or how does that work?
How indigenous are the names? >> Yeah. How do you--how do you localize terms
that we've never had before? >> Yeah, like Unicode.
>> Yeah. >> I mean, you know.
>> Actually, Unicode is--it's a Unicode-y but...
>> Uh-huh. Okay. So, that's why I transliterated it a little bit.
>> But most stuff we don't do. >> Yeah.
>> But code we did because we--a lot of times we're localizing. We look at other languages.
>> Uh-huh. >> You can see how they did it and a lot of
languages did the idea of transliterations of code.
>> Okay. >> But, like, for email for instance...
>> Yeah. >> We'd call it lightning paper.
>> Huh. Cool. Yeah. >> So it's--all of them have different terms
but mainly they're Cherokee concepts... >> Uh-huh.
>> ...with a handful of transliterations. >> Uh-huh.
>> And so Unicode is transliterated. >> Uh-huh.
>> But most of things like email, server, they're all descriptive terms.
>> Yeah. >> Cherokee is a verb-based language.
>> Okay. >> So we described everything, and it's really
neat because you can pack a lot of meaning in very short word.
>> Yeah. >> And we're tonal language, so it's really
an interested thing. >> Yes.
>> Like download. Like, you're taking it down because it's so spatial as well...
>> Uh-huh. >> ...we were discussing this concept and
bunch of all those and then we're discussing--well, you down--you actually down--you take it down.
>> Uh-hmm. >> And you put it inside something.
>> Uh-huh. >> And that's all just in a very small word
and so this occurs with stuff from emails to servers to--I guess I'm standing up and
I'm getting blank because I'm nervous but there's a lot of terms and most of them deal
with that digital stuff usually deals with some type of lightning.
>> Uh-huh. Yeah. >> Just like--I guess in English, you know,
you do electronic... >> Right.
>> ...for a lot of things or but for us... >> It's lightning?
>>'s lightning and so--but lightning papers, we always think it sounds really cool
and kids remember it, you know. >> Yeah, you bet. Yeah.
>> So. >> Just a quick follow-up, you mentioned that
Cherokee is a tonal language? >> Yes.
>> Are there tonal marks in the character set...
>> Yes. >> ...or is it like--like something like Arabic
or Hebrew where they don't have vowels and you just know and so...
>> You kind of have to know... >> Okay. So it's not...
>>, we... >> ...indicated in the...
>> I don't know... >> their writing system at all?
>> No, it's not. We're actually working on a grant with the science foundation to--for
the dictionary to actually put tonal marks in...
>> Yes. >> ...for dictionary purposes.
>> Yes. >> But you're right, it's--it has to be known
but we always try to describe it as an--you know, in English, if you write the word store,
like, you're going to a store or something... >> Yes.
>> actually write it s-t-o-r-e, you don't say "storey".
>> Yes. >> You know, because we know there's a silent
e there. >> Yes.
>> And we have the similar thing, when you look at search, we actually had a problem
with search. This is oddly enough a really complicated writing problem we had. The word
here is "Aishti" which in Cherokee phonetics, you drop the second syllabary vowel and so
you can actually write "ayoushti, ayashti, ayusti" and they know what the context--you
know what it is. >> Yes.
>> But if you write "ayoushti" you have to be careful because some of the translators
really like that because there are some grammatical reasons why you could write it this way but
if--but it also means to shoot at somebody or to break apart something and you don't
want that when you're searching. >> Right.
>> You don't want to break anything when you're pushing a button so we ended up actually translating
"ayashti." We don't have a centralized system of writing comparatively because it's just
like you can write cool in English, c-o-o-l or...
>> Yes. >> ...k-o-w-l or k-e-l, we have a slight adjustment
to some things but people can pretty much read it. But we've noticed since we're working--the
language is starting to grow with Facebook and all this stuff.
>> Yes. >> It seems that our community is starting
to centralize spellings. >> Okay.
>> In just a few years, I mean, it's starting to like--you see people online...
>> That's what you get with a living language that, you know.
>> We didn't have this kind of growth... >> [INDISTINCT]
>> ...and now it's starting to grow together again.
>> okay. >> ...but it's really a good question because
these, you know, it troubled us a lot and sometimes you'll get stuck a day or two on
a word and you're sitting there trying to understand concepts. And you're like, what
are programmers thinking? Sorry. >> Thank you.
>> So, I have both a historical question and a modern question. My historical question,
do you have any idea why Sequoia invented the--a new syllabary whole cloth rather than
using Latin alphabets or doing an Abukada like the Canadian Indian languages used? He
seemed of just have taken created--what? 53 symbols...
>> 85. >> 85.
>> ...85 symbols. Just created 85 symbols and assigned sounds to them...
>> Yes. >> ...just--you know, was there a reason for
this? >> Well, there is--there's no hard documentation
on why. There's lot of theories why. There's also another theory that there was a Cherokee
writing system before this... >> Okay.
>> ...and some of what he came up with is modeled on that too but essentially, you know,
what happened is he served in the military for awhile...
>> okay. >> ...and then he had seen this idea that
people could write back and forth and he wanted to do the same thing. It was more a matter
of, I guess, like cultural pride to have our own, yeah, and so he started working on this
unique system of writing this, that is specifically Cherokee. And so, he called it talking leaves,
that as his terminology for it because he had seen people sending papers and [INDISTINCT]
they may know what's happening way over there, you know, when they're not together. And so,
when he started developing the writing system--we actually have another presentation we did
about this, I wish we had it with us but--you know, how it turned out that looked like some
of the characters do look like English but they don't sound like English. If there's
like conjecture that he was influenced by other languages like Cyrillic and Greek and
I forget what else though but there are several others that we have comparison slides you
can see. >> Okay.
>> But I said, there's no real hard documentation of why he did it, you know, it just kind of--that's
how it turned out but the people kind of assume that, you know, he wanted to be something
that was specifically Cherokee rather than trying to--yes, do you have a...
>> okay. Yeah, one of the issues too is that early on, there were certain missionaries
that said that we shouldn't have our own writing system after it was already adopted within
a few years... >> Yes.
>> was a pretty descent writing system because almost 90% could read and write in
a few years of the creation... >> okay.
>> ...but after they started writing, the--there were missionaries that came in and they were
like you just need to do it in English phonetics, that way there's a better bond between Whites
and Indians because we'll know what your--we'll get closer to knowing what you understand--what
you understand if we can have a little bit... >> And--and there was the safety of the Unicode
problems. >> Yeah. Which we never foresaw couple of
hundred years ago. But you know the advantages, some tribes haven't adopted the language as
quickly. >> Yes.
>> But when we first got our phones out, it was really exciting this last year and even
once in awhile we'll run into somebody, that didn't know--we run into some really older
people in communities that are way in the backwoods and we'll show them the language
on a phone and almost inevitably, these older people do this [INDISTINCT] Can you believe
we're on something that's on a commercial? I mean--imagine your language isn't supported
anywhere and for the entire time of you growing up, they did everything that you've known,
subversive to blatant annihilation of a culture and language.
And even once a while we run into somebody who didn't know were running to some really
older people on communities that are way in backwards. Well, show them the language on
the phone. And almost inevitably, these older people do this. Can you believe on something
that's on the commercial? I mean, imagine your language is not supported anywhere and
for the entire time of you growing up, so they did everything that you have known subversive
to [INDISTINCT] annihilation of the culture and language. And you're included on something.
How did that happen? And our cultural pride in our writing system has been--since within
the last few days now or plus hundred--couple of hundred years, Cherokee really want to
see their writing system, in fact fanatics has never really cut on, in fact we were talking
at the computer company way out north. And one of the people were like, 'why don't you
just give up your language and write in fanatics? ", that's a valid thing but we can't get to
the communities to support that. We never, you know--in the--some of our programs, are
language programs tried. And they can get people like us to use it because we already
understanding which well enough of writing system to do that. But we can't get the older
generation involved of this. And if you get the older generation, you don't get the prayer,
you don't get the cultural understanding, you don't get the old documents that we have
and so, once Sequoia adopted this and, you know, there's a lots of speculations--a lot
of times people, basically tried to say, he--you know, "how could you have done this", I mean,
for one he was actually not literate in English. So, you can imagine and, you know, we always
argue of this--there got to be so much nicer to have an alphabet. You know, syllabary is
pretty tough sometimes because we have drops of some vowels and alphabets are very powerful
but this is a guy that he adopted as what we have. And then he actually came up with
a curse of writing. And so the curse of writing is very different in what you see today, but
even he adopted it. He work with the printing press and some missionaries to actually changed
it over to which looks like some English characters because it was more affordable. Because, you
don't have to--if someone's already got a bunch of these, you can use those if somebody
in the characters that looked like the curse of writing that you are already develops and
so. >> Now, my second question is, are you in
contact with people working on other--I don't know what's the right term [INDISTINCT] languages,
you know, languages like Welsh or Irish or other endangered languages.
>> Yeah, we do a lot of outreach and so far we have a lot of success because one of the
biggest problems with cultures dying is expentional. You know people usually focusing on just the
language and one of the biggest problems is that, it's not just about the language. It's
not that you can just search in the language, you know, that, "oh, great, you can search
that". It said that you're actively using your language everyday in a way that you would
naturally use it any way. And so we had people come from Irelands. The guy had a language
geek. He does Welsh, you can say it. He is Welsh, yeah. He's the one that--he's actually--we
didn't have any ability to do Unicode on PCs until he came around.
>> Okay. >> And Cherokee Nations sponsor PCs pretty
heavily. And if you're dealing with the language that could be difficult until he came around
and it was wonderful because we've been fighting for digital inclusion of our language for
a long time. Even among in our own community people.
>> Okay. So I know that we have that we go for a web searches and sometimes we have problems
with some languages based on how they are written? If our languages don't have spaces,
we sometimes have a hard time figuring out where [INDISTINCT] looking at the pages trying
to figure out if that matches a few words. We're to split all the characters up into
words and do that correctly. It looks like Cherokee written a syllabary with spaces in
between words. I don't know what kind of grammar or what was the language has. I don't know
if [INDISTINCT] ultimate spellings that we should be able to detect or, you know, if
you're typing something, we'll say, "Here's how you would write the plural form for both
words for you. Is this tough or easy if you work on that with us?
>> It's like a pretty complex language but we do have a grammar book and a dictionary
that details a lot of rules that revolved on there. And we have a searchable document
that we have. We can actually send it to you if you need something like that. And I said,
the good of us--as far as like marking, if you like grammar, if you like--we follow the
same pattern of English and commas and periods and all of that. There's no special punctuation
and there's--the language is not captilize or [INDISTINCT] case either. And--yeah. But
I say if you--we have a document that kind of details a lot of these rules of grammar
and all that. And then I said the pluralization is a little bit different for--depending what
you're talking about. Yeah. It's [INDISTINCT] of issue...
>> Like when were doing translations, you know, that the biggest thing people asked
us, you know, search--who's searching. You, me, and like it had just--And then it kind
of just--kind of heavily depending on--it's talking about you in English. Sometimes it's
actually in same written word even though it might have same meaning this way. But you
can say the same search or I search, you search, all that stuff. But it--and that for us, it's
like Turkish I guess. It's a synthetic language where you add things on, fronts and the backs
of words. And those can be--well, for example, there's a lot you [INDISTINCT] one of our
translator's name is Dodie Yu. And that's a sure--it's just like four characters and
you drop the values. But it means the guy over there eaten someone else's food. And
so there's a lot in each word that you can do. And so, we love Cherokee because it can
be a lot more advance in English. And there's certain thing like prepositional stuff that
we don't do as well >> Well, for example, there's a lot you can
put in a word. One of our translators' name is Dodayu. And that's a short--it's just like
four characters and you drop the vowel usually but it means the guy over there eating someone
else's food. And so, there's a lot in each word that you can do. And so, we love Cherokee
because it can be a lot more advanced than English. And then there's certain things like
prepositional stuff that we don't do as well in the sense that it's in already built in
the word, so like, whenever we translate, there's a lot of these thes and ins and ons
that are very complicated because we don't put those articles in. And so, a lot of times,
when you're doing localization, you have to move things around a little bit. I'm sure
a lot of languages do that but for us, it's new, you know, in making sure that--you know,
I know I'm really bad about putting--making sure that I have my little--my little commas
and all that stuff proper in there and it goes "Check this code," so I'm like, "Ah,
I messed up the code and the translation." But it's an exciting thing that, you know,
Google, I mean, you're basically connecting the world together and you're building the
Cherokee world together as well. And having this kind of thing--we can send you the documents
and it can be put in a database where we actually have--it's the dictionary part was done in
'75 and it has sentence samples all the way through it for every word and conjugation.
So, we have a bunch of samples. And since we didn't--we don't have OCR, poor Jeff had
to type this huge document up. And so, luckily, he's--we call him Cherokee Fingers because
he's so fast at typing. And so when we can't--we have to get something digitized so that we
can be searchable, we always bug Jeff because he's really fast. And if you find any documents,
I don't want to say that you'll do it, but it always helps. Anyway, hopefully that didn't
overdo it. But we appreciate it. >> I have one comment. I passed around a magazine
which has Roy Boney's artwork in it and I encourage you to take a look at it. Unfortunately,
I can't give you to keep because we have only a few copies. But this is an example of the--this
is the story of Sequoyah drawn by these folks and...
>> If you're--if you're on Google, look at Roy Boney and Native American Times. Isn't
it? >> Indian County...
>> Or Indian Country Today. And this thing has actually got the whole...
>> [INDISTINCT] >> It's a--it's like a digital version of
our history that we've talked today but it's in a graphic-novel form.
>> And you may see the posters that I--that I made from the first page of--page of that.
I had one question. Since you have almost 200 years of written parallel text, English
and Cherokee, what would you like to do with that with the Cherokee Phoenix to further--well,
you have tremendous resource there. What do you want to do with it?
>> Well, for one, I mean, we have a lot of documents that we don't have digitized and
typing them up takes a long time. And, unfortunately, we're a small group, like digital group, you
know? So, we're dealing with a lot of other issues. So--but what we'd like to do is be
able to take that documents and put these translations that, you know, a lot of times,
what we did is we did the English versions and Cherokee versions, you know, on all these
documents, all these newspapers so that people could read it because, I don't know if we
mentioned it, but the Cherokee Phoenix was the most popular American newspaper of its
time in Europe. We were--had more subscriptions than any other newspaper in Europe that came
from the Americas. So our newspaper was known. In fact, they would do a lot of correspondence
that Cherokees actually knew about Turkish cannons in the 1800s that would take down
a British ship with one shot. I knew about the British mining rubber. And so, it was
the scene at the end of the day of what was going on. And we have all these materials
that have really old words that, you know, just like if you read 1800s English writing,
there were some fantastic things you can learn about grammar. But, unfortunately, we have
lots of museums and archives of stuff that we hadn't had time to type up everything.
And so, we have to hurry because, you know, our papers are getting old and not everything
is digitized. >> Yeah. The Cherokee Phoenix itself, I think
the University of Georgia has a virtual of archive of--they're just--they're just images.
And so there's the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, they have a website that has
images of it too. But there's no, like, true text version of it anywhere. And if we could
get that, that'd be like a really excellent resource.
>> Because you know... >> And beyond that, we do have a lot of like--some
of the books that we showed in the presentation, we have these old song books, and hymn books,
storybooks. We have old primers, all this stuff, we could have it digitize like with
actual text instead of just scanned images. That'd be like really excellent. So we can
have it searchable and all that's stuff. That would be like...
>> Google Translate. >> Yeah, with Google Translate or something
like that. All this stuff would be really great to have all of this, but--and the issue
is, you know, there's not a lot of people that we have--even the three of us, we're
the--we're the entire Cherokee Language Technology team at Cherokee Nation. And so we do a lot
of other things, but if we had some way to actually, like, [INDISTINCT] with an OCR,
that would be like a really great tool that we could use too to digitize all of this.
>> Because you know, where we're from, it's not a tech community. We're a low-internet
area with speakers that want to be more involved, but we--you know, time get very good speakers
just type--tapping up this stuff, it's pretty tough.
>> Unless we've been [INDISTINCT] >> Yeah. And imagine doing it on the phone
because that's our major device with like internet and stuff. And PCs, we're still hoping
to get some better support, but it's kind of tricky. If an update wipes out, you know,
we'll go and install Cherokee on it. One update wipes it out. We got to go back and like,
"Oh, it's broke." And what it is the computer is updated and we have to put Cherokee back
on it and all that stuff. And so we're always very excited. The keyboard alone has been
really handy on this front. We know people that actually, when things happen like that,
they type a lot [INDISTINCT] in that browser there, and then they can copy and paste it
and do something else with it. So we'll be out--people really work hard at trying to
use the language. And even something as simple as a little keyboard on a search engine site
has become useful. >> Just a quick question about the keyboard.
So, you said someone had developed a sort of phonetic-composing keyboard instead, right?
But the one we have is a traditional keyboard with the shifts and stuff, is that right?
So is there a spec for the composing keyboard? Would you rather see that keyboard as an option
instead of the one that's there now? >> BONEY: That would be great if we had that.
We have that chart you see early in the presentation. Hope we find it here. It's--this is--it follows
the phonetic conventions that we used. I'll see it in here. Let's just go through it real
quick. I know we had it. >> It's on the Google [INDISTINCT]
>> BONEY: There it is. This chart here, you can see it has the Cherokee on the left and
on the right is the English phonetically equivalent. >> Uh-hmm.
>> BONEY: So, you know, when you would type that letter combination all to get that syllable
and that's the... >> And so that map's directly on to an English
keyboard... >> BONEY: Yeah.
>> ...instead of the lower case. >> BONEY: Yeah.
>> SALVADOR: And for people under 40 who like the phonetics because they already know the
keys where... >> BONEY: Yeah, right.
>> SALVADOR: But some of the elders really like the old way.
>> BONEY: The older thing, yeah. >> SALVADOR: And so, we always defer to them
sometimes... >> BONEY: Right.
>> And so... >> BONEY: They are the source of your culture,
right? So. >> SALVADOR: But when it comes to us typing,
we type the phonetics because it's so fast. >> BONEY: Uh-huh.
>> SALVADOR: And you know, there are certain characters, there's like ten of them that
you barely use. Of course, I can need word if you need that letter--you need that letter.
>> BONEY: Uh-huh. >> SALVADOR: And so, sometimes when you type
in that way, those ten that you barely use are really hard to find on the keyboard.
>> BONEY: Yeah. >> SALVADOR: When you haven't typed it in
like a day and a half. >> BONEY: Right. You forget just which--yeah.
>> SALVADOR: Look at the chart in there, but. >> BONEY: Uh-hmm.
>> CORNELIUS: Okay. Next. Well, we need to respect the time but thank you all for joining
us today. If any of you would like to ask further questions, we're going to be having
lunch in Charlie's and we'd be happy to have you to join us. Thank you so much to our speakers
and just to let you know, they are speaking at the Unicode Conference in the next couple
of days here in Santa Clara. That and we are happy that they could join us at Google as
well. >> SALVADOR: Yeah. Wednesday at 3:00, we're
talking over there a little bit different, more Unicode-based to try to--we also get
to meet the guy that helped us get in to the Unicode chart which we're very excited about
because we--you know, when your language is actually adopted in the Unicode, I know that's
for geeks too, like, that's really cool. Like, we're going to meet that guy. So we're excited.
Come by if you can. I know you guys are busy and we appreciate you taking the time out
of, you know, you guys are changing the world one code string at a time and people notice
out there. We do. So, thanks for letting us search in [SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE].