Technology gives digital face, voice to Cherokee linguist Sequoyah – The Journal Record – Journal Record

A digital creation of famed Cherokee linguist Sequoyah was accomplished using state-of-the-art motion and facial capture technology.
(Courtesy photo)

TAHLEQUAH – Cutting-edge motion and facial capture technology has been leveraged by the Cherokee Nation to give new voice to one of the most important figures in Cherokee history, Sequoyah.

Sequoyah, also known as George Guess or George Gist, has been widely celebrated as the inventor of the first written language among Native American tribes. He introduced the Cherokee syllabary in 1821.

In honor of Sequoyah and as part of this year’s bicentennial celebration of the syllabary, the tribe’s language program, in collaboration with the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content, recently premiered “Sequoyah: Voice of the Inventor for the Bicentennial.” It showcases the first use by a Native American tribe of motion and facial capture technology to preserve and promote an indigenous language.

“Through the use of this state-of-the-art technology and the incredible efforts of our first-language speakers, we are perpetuating the Cherokee language for many generations to come,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “For 200 years, Sequoyah’s invention of the Cherokee syllabary has truly advanced our people, and it continues to move us forward today through new and innovative technological breakthroughs.”

The production brings Sequoyah into modern-day focus through the use of real-time graphics and the voice and movements of first-language Cherokee speaker Steve Daugherty. According to a release, a “motion capture” suit and headset were utilized to record body movements, facial expressions and language. Then, by way of a “live render engine,” recorded data was used to create a lifelike digital character of Sequoyah.

The production was created using Unreal Engine, the same technology used for major industry productions such as The Mandalorian and for popular video games such as Fortnite.

“Cherokee Nation has brought programming, infrastructure and industry-leading technologies to Oklahoma,” said Jennifer Loren, director of Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content. “This virtual production is a first of its kind among tribal nations and an excellent example of how emerging technology can help us preserve and share indigenous languages.”

For more information or to watch “Sequoyah: Voice of the Inventor for the Bicentennial,” online go to


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