Nine-year-old Lauren Hummingbird wants a cell phone for Christmas–and not just any old phone, but an iPhone. Such a request normally would be met with skepticism by her father, Cherokee Nation employee Jamie Hummingbird. He could dismiss the obvious reasons a kid might want an iPhone, except for this–he’s a proud Cherokee and buying his daughter the phone just might help keep the tribe’s language alive. Nearly two centuries after a blacksmith named Sequoyah converted Cherokee into its own unique written form, the tribe has worked with Apple to develop Cherokee language software for the iPhone, iPod and—soon–the iPad. Computers used by students–including Lauren–at the tribe’s language immersion school already allow them to type using Cherokee characters, the Associated Press reports…

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