TAHELQUAH, Okla. - After a year of hard work by a dedicated team of employees in the Cherokee Nation's Cultural Resource Center, Cherokee fonts are available as a download from the Cherokee Nation's Web site.
Lisa LaRue, one of those who worked on the project likened the project to working on a puzzle. "We analyzed more than 7,000 Cherokee words and then placed the most frequently used syllables on the home keys and worked our way out. The least frequently used syllables are accessed with the shift key."
So far, a spokesman for the Cherokee Nation reports, 1,300 people have downloaded the fonts, which allow computer users to communicate in the Cherokee language.
The advance of the Cherokee language into cyberspace pleases Principal Chief, Chad Smith. "Our language has survived decades of institutionalized effort by outside forces to extinguish it. In this digital age, we are adapting new ways to communicate in Cherokee so that our language and our nation will prosper and excel in the future."
The nation admits the font is not unprecedented, but a spokesman said he believes the new Cherokee Nation font will set an official standard.
"It's not a cure-all," Deputy Chief Hastings Shade said. "The font helps get everybody thinking in the right direction for the language. We have to create a real need to read and write Cherokee. The ones that read, write and speak Cherokee should be doing it on the job and in the community, and teaching the ones that can't."
Tonia Williams, Cherokee Nation webmaster envisions the possibility of using the fonts in education. "It can be used easily in schools and for preparing teaching materials in Cherokee. So much communication is done online or on computers. We have to help people use the Cherokee language to communicate digitally to make sure the language survives technological and social changes."
Rave reviews have come into the Web site from those who have downloaded the fonts for their computers.
In a press release from the nation, Al Downing, a Cherokee tribal member from California, said, "The work that has been done to save our language and culture is astounding to say the least. To see the syllabary of Sequoyah available from the Cherokee Nation rather from anyone else is history in the making."
For those interested in downloading the Cherokee fonts the Web site for the Cherokee Nation is www.cherokee.org