The Cherokee language has approximately 10,400 speakers across Oklahoma, North Carolina and Arkansas.
Unfortunately, as a result of removal of Cherokee children from Cherokee-speaking homes over the years, the language is in danger of extinction, according to native-languages.org. Cherokee remains among the more widely-spoken Native American languages.
To help preserve the language, the Cherokee Nation and Mångo Languages, a company that creates language-learning software, recorded the language on computer software and designed an online Cherokee language course. The first library to offer the software was the Tulsa City-County Library. The software is now available to more than 3,000 libraries nationwide, including the Duncan Public Library.
The Cherokee Nation is also the largest tribal nation in the U.S., with the seat of tribal government in Tahlequah.
“Protecting our unique language and syllabary ensures our heritage remains accessible to our citizens, which is critical to our long-term success as a tribe,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “A large part of our success in language conservation has been our willingness to embrace new technologies and partnerships that allow us to better preserve our Cherokee history and culture.”
Cherokee Language Programs Manager Roy Boney Jr. said theirs is the first Native American language to be included in the software and he hopes to continue to develop their materials in the software.
“We hope to expand our materials in the program and provide users with as many resources as possible to develop their language skills,” Boney Jr. said.
Duncan Public Library Director Jan Cole said she’s excited to offer the program at the library.
Cole said the program teaches how to pronounce basic Cherokee words using speech patterns and also explains the cultural significance of the language.
“It’s visual, they pronounce it, then show a voice pattern ... it also uses flash cards,” she said. “It takes two-three days to complete a lesson ... I’m confident the course is thorough.”
The Cherokee language is the 65th language to be offered using the Mango software.
Cole said the software can be accessed from the Duncan Public Library’s educational databases tab and creating an account using a free library card.