This post is part of our series on “Using Citizen Media Tools to Promote Under-Represented Languages.”
He is a wolf puppet named ᏩᏯ and he plays a starring role in a series of YouTube videos designed to find a fun way to encourage the use of the Cherokee language. ᏩᏯ, which mean Wahya or “wolf” in Cherokee, can be seen around town having conversations with other Cherokee speakers.
It is a project of Joseph Erb and Durbin Feeling, and the videos can be found on the YouTube account DigitalNativeMaker. Even though some of the more fluent elders are hesitant to being filmed, Joseph said that ᏩᏯ has helped to facilitate these recordings.
The videos are only one of many more activities using technology and the internet to share the Cherokee culture through communication. Joseph said that he is working to “find ways to use the language, culture, and ideals of our past and bring it into the future.” For example, Joseph has been using animation to tell traditional stories in the Cherokee language, as well as being part of a team working with Apple to provide support for making Cherokee available on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
“If it doesn't have Cherokee on it, they all speak English,” he said. “They'll just give up their Cherokee … because the cool technology is in English. So we had to figure out a way to make the cool technology in Cherokee.”