TAHLEQUAH – In honor of Sequoyah and this year’s bicentennial celebration of the Cherokee syllabary, the Cherokee Nation has become the first Native American tribe to use motion and facial capture technology to help preserve and promote an Indigenous language. 

According to a CN press release, in collaboration with the tribe’s language program, Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content on Oct. 15 premiered “Sequoyah: Voice of the Inventor for the Bicentennial.”   

“Through the use of this state-of-the-art technology and the incredible efforts of our first-language speakers, we are perpetuating the Cherokee language for many generations to come,” said Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “For 200 years, Sequoyah’s invention of the Cherokee syllabary has truly advanced our people, and it continues to move us forward today through new and innovative technological breakthroughs.”  

According to the release, recorded at the CN COVID Response Virtual Soundstage, the production brings Sequoyah to life through real-time graphics and the voice and movements of first-language Cherokee speaker Steve Daugherty. 

“Cherokee Nation has brought programming, infrastructure and industry-leading technologies to Oklahoma,” Jennifer Loren, CNFO director, said. “Cherokee Nation’s COVID Response Virtual Soundstage includes unique content creation tools that have never been available in Indian Country before now. This virtual production is a first of its kind among tribal nations and an excellent example of how emerging technology can help us preserve and share indigenous languages. 

The release states the tribe’s virtual video production implements a combination of video game engine and motion and facial capture technology using a motion capture suit and headset to record body movements, facial expressions and language. It also states that through a live render engine, recorded data was then used to create a walking and talking digital character of Sequoyah. 

According to the release, the production was created using Unreal Engine, the same technology used for major industry productions such as “The Mandalorian” and for popular video games such as Fortnite. 

Sequoyah, also known as George Guess or George Gist, introduced the Cherokee syllabary in 1821, states the release. It also states the Cherokee statesman and linguist invented the first written language among Native American tribes and influenced written languages throughout the world. 

For information and to watch “Sequoyah: Voice of the Inventor for the Bicentennial,” visit https://anadisgoi.com/index.php/culture-stories/724-cherokee-nation-brings-burgeoning-technology-to-language-efforts.