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NSU offers Cherokee language technology course

(Tahlequah, Okla.)—Students at Northeastern State University can trace the technical evolution of the Cherokee language from syllabary to social media applications in the university’s newest course Cherokee Language Technology.

Co-instructed by Joseph Erb and Roy Boney Jr., the class follows the language from its handwritten inception by Sequoyah through its application to the printing press, typewriter and 21st Century digital media.

“The course also incorporates hands-on learning of how to create syllabary based content in digital platforms such as social and interactive media, text messaging and building custom Web sites,” Erb said.

Boney said the course addresses a demand for the creation of Cherokee language content in digital formats.

“There is a greater need to understand the implications of using the Cherokee language in the 21st Century and how usage with Facebook, texting, search engines and other Web-based content can help perpetuate the language,” Boney said. “Learning to use digital media to communicate effectively is a primary objective of the course.”

Erb said the course is generating curiosity among students in NSU’s Cherokee Cultural Studies and Cherokee Education programs.

“They are asking a lot of questions about how to use their skills to create Cherokee language content online,” he said.

NSU is offering the class with assistance from the Cherokee Nation. Dr. Les Hannah, director of NSU’s Cherokee language program, and Melanie Knight, Secretary of State for the Nation, worked with Erb and Boney of Cherokee Nation Language Technology to provide the course.

Erb is an artist and computer animator with the Nation and serves on the board of the Cherokee Arts and Humanities Council. To teach the language to young Cherokees, Erb has incorporated digital technology into traditional storytelling. The National Museum of the American Indian has screened his work. He holds a master of fine arts degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Boney is a computer animator, comic artist and fine artist employed as a language media specialist for the Nation. He is co-creator of the graphic novel series Dead Eyes Open and won the grand prize at the Cherokee Heritage Center’s Trail of Tears art show in 2006. Several of his works are among the permanent collection of the Sequoyah National Research Center. He holds a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from Oklahoma State and a master of arts from Arkansas-Little Rock.

Cherokee Language Technology is offered in the NSU course catalog as CHER 4413 and ZAP 2413. The class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:30 a.m.

For more information about NSU’s Cherokee degree programs visit Cherokee Cultural Studies and Cherokee Education Major.  

Published: 8/15/2011 2:43:10 PM

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