It Takes a Village: Building a Cherokee Language Learning Tool

Presenter: Naomi Trevino

Research Category: Humanities and Arts
College: College of Science
Major(s): Linguistics
Graduation Date: 2022
Award: Scholarship

Indigenous languages in the United States are dying at a rapid rate, causing the loss of knowledge and cultural practice for many communities. This is, in part, due to the lack of readily available written texts annotated with pronunciation and grammatical information for teachers and learners to use. In this project, I used interdisciplinary methods to create enriched online reading materials for Cherokee teachers and learners, serving the preservation and revitalization of the Cherokee langauge. This project had three primary outcomes. First, I designed data models for Cherokee language documents, words, and their cultural-historical context using tools common within digital humanities. Then, I conducted informal talks with Cherokee teachers and learners about how they use and learn the Cherokee language, as well as reflecting on these meetings to assess my work. Finally, I wrote a literature review of linguistic and decolonial literature, accompanied by a discussion of how the reviewed literature influenced my design decisions. Altogether, this served as a cornerstone of a publicly accessible online document reading interface featuring linguistic annotations geared toward learners, supported by and built alongside the Cherokee community.