Native Village 
Youth and Education News

January 1, 2013

Microsoft releases first Windows OS in an original American language
Condensed by Native Village


In 1975, the first Windows operating system was launched. Now, 27 years later, members of the Cherokee Nation have built the first local language pack for Windows 8.

"The project started with Tracy Monteith, a Cherokee citizen in North Carolina who worked at Microsoft," said Julie Hubbard, spokesperson for the Cherokee Nation.  "Volunteers translated over 180,000 words for the language pack over the last year and a half; it's the biggest project since the [Cherokee] translation of the Bible."

Where words had to be invented for modern features, the translators consulted with elders or ancient texts for reference points.

Microsoft also developed

A new user interface font called Gadugi the Cherokee word for "working together"

A forthcoming version of Office 2013

A phonetic keyboard layout for the Cherokee language

Key to the project is the tribe's efforts to preserve and maintain the Cherokee language, particularly among youth. This involves special classes for children, including technology modules taught solely in Cherokee. Native speakers also tour districts maintaining language skills.

Thanks to these efforts, the number of Cherokee language users is growing. Ten years ago, few under age 40 spoke Cherokee. Today, over 3,000 people speak fluent Cherokee and are increasingly using it in day-to-day conversations.

"Today technology is deeply integrated into our everyday lives if that technology is not provided in the user's native tongue, then they will use whatever language is accessible to them," said Carla Hurd from Microsoft. "That is why Microsoft believed it was important to work with the Cherokee Nation Language Team on creating access to our products in their language."

Windows, however, is lagging behind Apple. Mac OS has supported the Cherokee language since 2003, and a Cherokee version of iOS was built two years ago.  Like Windows, the Apple version was built with the help of Cherokee Nation volunteers.

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Native Village Gina Boltz
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