CN Translation Dept. translates Yale’s archived documents

BY STAFF REPORTS
12/09/2013 04:05 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation’s Language Translation Department – which contracts with Apple, Microsoft, Google and Ivy League universities for Cherokee translation projects – has been transcribing nearly 2,000 Cherokee handwritten documents at Yale’s Beinecke Library to catalogue and eventually make public.

“Our speakers are taking Cherokee history, in the form of our language, and preserving it for our future by incorporating our written alphabet into smart phones and computer language settings, making it possible for our youth to email entirely in Cherokee,” Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “They are one of our most valuable resources, not only passing on their wisdom to our Cherokee immersion students learning to speak, but for our future who will know more about our lives and way of thinking, revealed in all these translated archived manuscripts.”

The documents, spanning from the late 19th to mid-20th century, are from the collection of the late Jack and Anna Kilpatrick, Cherokee researchers.

“Native American communities have endured some of America’s most sustained forms of cultural oppression, and contemporary Indian nations, tribal members and supporters work tirelessly to reverse generations of assimilation-orientated designs,” Ned Blackhawk, Yale professor of history and American studies and advisory member at Yale’s Native American Cultural Center, said.

Blackhawk said the work of linguists and language speakers in such efforts is essential, especially in keeping alive and vibrant the languages of the first Americans.

“The Cherokee Nation works at the leading edge of such linguistic activism. Their researchers and linguistic specialists have helped adapt 21st century technologies with their traditional culture and have developed among the most advanced pedagogical practices in the nation,” he said.

The CN has a comprehensive language program that includes community language classes, online language courses, employee language classes, a language technology program, an office of translation and an immersion school for preschool through sixth grade and partners with Northeastern State University on a degree program for Cherokee language.

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