“From greetings to how you’re feeling to asking questions to other phrases that people use a lot,” said Native Innovations President Jerome Tsosie, Navajo. Native Innovations is a Native owned and operated company out of Flagstaff, Arizona.
He said they could have had English to Navajo translations in the app as well, but it’s all in Navajo.
“If you want people to really learn the language you have to put it all in Navajo,” Tsosie said. “Just look at Spanish manuals, they’re all in Spanish. It’s the best way to learn another language.”
The app came out for Apple product users in November 2012 and has been popular—Tsosie said it’s been downloaded about 2,800 times. But, he said, there are more Android users on the Navajo Nation than iPhone users, so there was a need for the keyboard on that platform.
“You can use the Android Navajo keyboard as your main primary keyboard for all the applications you have in your phone—messaging, Facebook, all the social sites, email, pretty much anything you want to use,” Tsosie said. “We’re in a digital age and nobody was doing anything like this. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback. People want to use it in their Navajo language classes as a way to take it even further.”
The app is free for Apple and Android products and Tsosie says his company has been approached to create a keyboard for other tribal languages.