Monica Peters

Technology and Trades (2007)

Indigenous languages are at risk. Many languages have slowly disappeared because they weren’t taught or passed down to the next generation. Too many people today are so plugged into mainstream culture that our ancient languages are teetering on extinction.

So, when Monica Peters wanted to strengthen her Mohawk language she plugged into a whole other language – binary and computer codes – the modern language. She believed if she could combine her awareness of Mohawk with her knowledge of computer programming – they could merge to become a powerful tool to communicate, teach and preserve the language forever.

Monica grew up speaking Mohawk but also learned to read by studying her father’s computer programming books and manuals. She programmed her first codes when she was just seven-years-old. But it was much later in her adulthood; after she disconnected with her family and culture that she realized she was losing her language, and more importantly her identity as a Mohawk woman. She abruptly turned her life around, focused on her education and relearned her language for her own sake. And then she focused on the larger dilemma. She studied passionately, experimented with countless codes and programs until she created an artificial intelligence program that learns language.  By combining modern technology with ancient words she built an instrument that not only gave her identity but has the potential to save threatened languages of the world.