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  • Indian Sign Language

    Indian sign language is not the international sign language used today. It includes terms and responses unique to tribal groups and individuals. Yet, at one time many tribes communicated in sign language if they did not share a common verbal language.

    I am sorry to say this has become a dying form of communication that was at one time prevalent among Native North American people.

    I remember growing up and seeing old men communicate quite frequently in sign language. Today, I still use some of these signals when I am among my father's and mother's people.

    Do people in your community still use Indian sign language to communicate on a daily basis?

    Is there someone in your community that still knows how to sign?

    Do you know what the sign is for your tribe?

    Do you know anybody that is able to teach "authentic" Indian sign language in a public setting??????
    Last edited by WhoMe; 10-04-2008, 08:21 AM.
    Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

  • #2
    just by that book indian sign language!! aye!! I just see them old timers... I watch and try to pick up what I can.... I feel you on its fading awayism!!! gawh my new word!!!
    Dayum I make some keen DrumSticks!!!!!!sigpic

    Comment


    • #3
      hi who me and everone,
      i have a comment about this topic

      when i was going out the jessie he and i went to a powwow and i notice some of the older ones watching he and i as we walked backed to our sets we were talkingwith our signs somthing that came natural to us as we had a language diffreance and we talked flunity in sign i looked up and notice a woman smiling at us and i belived she was understanding our simple talk ..
      thats when i understood that this was somthing spical from knowing jessie that he helped me talk in a way that was lost to me befor..
      also the mexican natial ppl do this everday thay are called the invisables by many but have a whole way of speaking to eache other im so glad becouse every other word couldent be way ....

      just me insite to the topic at hand lol
      Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass..It's about learning to dance in the rain. for me and the wolf

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      • #4
        I don't know jack about any tribal specific signs to my tribe or any really other than the more modernly added "flipping the bird".
        Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear... just sing, sing a song.sigpic

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        • #5
          ...i think the insulting hand signs are pretty unverstal.


          on the other hand

          i think it comes from being in tune with the person your talking with,where movement means somthing,like maybe in the time when ppl lived together in familys bands there was a language spoken that would be know to them. you know like when you give a loveone a warring eye,and it stops them in there tracks or when you might be tired and someone close to you see it and does somthing for you.lots of body reading with some hand singles could be what is discribed as hand signing lanauge not exclity what Who me is talking about but the same too.
          Last edited by 2lineCarrandMorgan; 10-07-2008, 07:51 PM.
          Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass..It's about learning to dance in the rain. for me and the wolf

          Comment


          • #6
            The signs live at the drum

            If you ever get up close to a drum right before and during a song you can sometimes catch a whole lot.
            It's so loud sometimes that trying to talk is impossible, and you dont wanna say "Hey man who's takin the lead?" with the mic on, so drums usually have a whole set of signs. And you notice that guys from the same tribe usually have either the same or pretty similar signs.

            And as for what 2line said, ya you can develop when you spend a lot of time with people- my wife uses some american sign language, and that is now all mixed up with the signs I use, and we can communicate across an arena with no problem.

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            • #7
              I suspect some signs probably persist as "home signs" used with in the context of ASL conversations between deaf members of a given Native community. I will have to ask my interpreter friend in NM.

              I have noticed that there is a fair body of scholarly and BSA-type texts on Native signing. They seem to document vocabulary but not grammar. Not too surprising. Serious consideration was not given to the grammar of ASL until the '70's. (Heck, most people still think ASL is just English conveyed in by a different modality.) The few people I've seen use Native sign, basically sign English grammar. I would be interested in whether the true grammar of Native sign reflected the structure of the spoken languages in the area where the signs were used -- especially since the language was used by a larger number of hearing people than deaf people.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by OLChemist View Post
                I suspect some signs probably persist as "home signs" used with in the context of ASL conversations between deaf members of a given Native community. I will have to ask my interpreter friend in NM.

                I have noticed that there is a fair body of scholarly and BSA-type texts on Native signing. They seem to document vocabulary but not grammar. Not too surprising. Serious consideration was not given to the grammar of ASL until the '70's. (Heck, most people still think ASL is just English conveyed in by a different modality.) The few people I've seen use Native sign, basically sign English grammar. I would be interested in whether the true grammar of Native sign reflected the structure of the spoken languages in the area where the signs were used -- especially since the language was used by a larger number of hearing people than deaf people.
                This is true that some of the Native signs are included into the ASL(American Sign Language). I am Deaf from birth. I did not sign until I was 20 years old. I had to be mainstream both in elementary school and high school and was not allowed to use SEE (Sign Exact English). Indian Sign Language is a dying art and very few of our traditionists still use them. I have a book on Indian Sign Language but I never use it as there was no one to sign native style. SEE came from the French and then went there from English (England) and then came to North America, but it got mix up in different states or provinces. What happen is that when we went to see the Deaf performers doing the stage play on the American Theater for the Deaf and we Deafies could not understand what the Deaf actors say. We were all confuse. So some of the Deaf actors started to teach us ASL all across from coast to coast even in Canada so that we can all understand better than getting all mix up. So that is how ASL was born. As a Deaf native, I am glad I can communicate with Deaf communities in ASL better than getting all mix up in signs. Hehehe.

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                • #9
                  2line,

                  You are on to something. Sure tribes with different tribal languages who never met before tried to communicate. Body language and unspoken communication played a roll in their interactive sign language. I think this can be similar when kids of different cultures learn to play and communicate.

                  legal,

                  I was going to bring this up. I also see men around big center drum communicate with other singers across the drum. This is where I most often also use sign language. Often it is humorous in context!


                  OL,

                  In what little sign language I still use and see, it is done in native language. For instance, I often ask relatives from my father's tribe in sign language, "It's good to see you. How have you been?" They respond by signing "h'Angyah-daw pahbe."


                  Deaf,

                  Indian sign language existed before ASL and SEE was invented.
                  Powwows will continue to evolve in many directions. It is inevitable.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hey WhoMe.... Check out the Intertribal Deaf Council IDC . They had their conference in Albuquerque a few years back, and I think your dad might have been head gourd singer or host southern or something.... anyway, several members of their organization are involved in the preservation of traditional sign languages. Not only is there the Plains sign language (ie - wiggle & twist your hand to ask a question... hahaha), but there is also a "Arctic" or Inuit sign language, as well as one that was used on the Northwest coast. "Speakers" of all three were at that conference. Pretty impressive stuff...

                    And OlChemist.... you're absolutely right, I don't think anyone's ever done a grammatical or syntactical study of native sign languages.... though at that conference I mentioned, there was clear interest in and discussion of such matters (including "morpho-phonemics" or how signs get altered or morphed in context w/ other signs to communicate fluid ideas.... hardcore linguistics....).

                    One of the cool things about that conference is that they had a powwow! Lots of hearing-impaired folks dancing too, and some pretty goot dancers at that... cause you can feel that drum even if you can't hear it, but we too often take that for granted.
                    Functionless art is simply tolerated vandalism.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
                      2line,

                      You are on to something. Sure tribes with different tribal languages who never met before tried to communicate. Body language and unspoken communication played a roll in their interactive sign language. I think this can be similar when kids of different cultures learn to play and communicate.

                      legal,

                      I was going to bring this up. I also see men around big center drum communicate with other singers across the drum. This is where I most often also use sign language. Often it is humorous in context!


                      OL,

                      In what little sign language I still use and see, it is done in native language. For instance, I often ask relatives from my father's tribe in sign language, "It's good to see you. How have you been?" They respond by signing "h'Angyah-daw pahbe."


                      Deaf,

                      Indian sign language existed before ASL and SEE was invented.
                      Yes, I forgot to mention that. You are right that Indian Sign Language had been around for a long, long time before SEE and ASL was invented. True, True. We don't know how many years like centuries because we don't keep a record in our deer skins or on the rocks to let us know if we had Indian Sign Language in it, like a history. I love to dance in the Powwow and yes, I do feel the drums and I tried to stay close to the drums so I can feel them. Only problem is I can not make out the singing and I tried to lipread them to understand what the songs is saying. I am at a loss for them. Oh, well. Feeling the drums is better than singing for me.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Deaf,
                        I'm not sure where you are at with your level of hearing, but if you are interested you could probably get a singer to work with you just so you know what the songs are.
                        I have seen lots of people with varying degrees of hearing loss/deafness dance, and it is always great.

                        You ever seen visually impaired folks dance? I was really amazed, a couple years ago they had one of those audience participation dances and this fella got out there with his cane and went at it, and was a pretty good dancer.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by WhoMe View Post
                          In what little sign language I still use and see, it is done in native language. For instance, I often ask relatives from my father's tribe in sign language, "It's good to see you. How have you been?" They respond by signing "h'Angyah-daw pahbe."

                          Kewl

                          Originally posted by Str8Dancer49 View Post
                          ... I don't think anyone's ever done a grammatical or syntactical study of native sign languages.... though at that conference I mentioned, there was clear interest in and discussion of such matters (including "morpho-phonemics" or how signs get altered or morphed in context w/ other signs to communicate fluid ideas.... hardcore linguistics....).

                          It would be very interesting.
                          Last edited by OLChemist; 10-10-2008, 10:07 AM. Reason: Additions

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                          • #14
                            A link with clips from films of native sign language:

                            Hand Talk: American Indian Sign Language

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by legalstraight View Post
                              Deaf,
                              I'm not sure where you are at with your level of hearing, but if you are interested you could probably get a singer to work with you just so you know what the songs are.
                              I have seen lots of people with varying degrees of hearing loss/deafness dance, and it is always great.

                              You ever seen visually impaired folks dance? I was really amazed, a couple years ago they had one of those audience participation dances and this fella got out there with his cane and went at it, and was a pretty good dancer.
                              I had a good friend in highschool who had severe hearing loss. She was a dancer (ballet, tap and jazz) she didn't use hearing aids when dancing cause she could feel the music. She is an amazing dancer and when she graduated won a dance scholarship for university. Don't have much to add to the discussion on Native sign. I have often wondered about it, more so lately. One of my children has a communication disability and it has been suggested that sign language may help her communicate even though her hearing is fine.

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