January 24, 2017

Cherokee becomes the first Native American language on Windows 8

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Microsoft and Cherokee Nation executives are celebrating the addition of Cherokee as the first Native American language fully integrated into the new Windows 8 operating system.

Microsoft employee Tracy Monteith, a Cherokee from North Carolina, asked his employers more than 20 years ago to include his native language in the computer’s core operating system. It was Monteith’s dream that everything from the settings, pull down menus and even error messages appear in Cherokee.

It wasn’t until 2010 that Cherokee Nation language technologists met with Monteith and others at Microsoft to get the project off the ground. A team of translators was assembled, ranging from tribal employees, speakers in the community and even Cherokee college students.

Lois Leach, a 56-year-old clerk in the Cherokee Nation roads department, logged more than 100 volunteer hours the past year translating computer terms that did not exist when the Cherokee language was developed. Examples include “folder,” “printer” and “email.”

“You don’t look at yourself really doing anything that huge until you see it come together,” Leach said. “It’s amazing to think our work will be shared all over the world.”