Sign language in "Reservation Dogs"
October 3, 2022 8:34 AM   Subscribe

In the series "Reservation Dogs", the protagonists sometimes communicate with each other in a signed language. Are they using Plains Indian Sign Language? How authentic and/or widespread is this among contemporary Native Americans?

I searched online and aside from some people noting the use, I can't find any details.
Any background, texts, etc., is much appreciated.
posted by signal to Writing & Language (1 answer total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: This is a pretty good article about the current state of affairs regarding Plains Indian Sign Language. A few excerpts:
Ron Garritson . . . identifies himself as being of Choctaw and European heritage. He was raised in Billings, Montana, near the Crow Nation.

“I learned how to speak Crow to a degree, and I was really interested in the sign language,” he said. “I saw it being used by the Elders, and I thought it was a beautiful form of communication. And so I started asking questions.” . . .

By the late 1800s, tens of thousands of Native Americans still used Hand Talk. That changed when the federal government instituted a policy designed to “civilize” tribal people. . . .

Research has shown that Hand Talk is still being used by a small number of deaf and hearing descendants of the Plains Indian cultures.

"Hand Talk is endangered and dying quickly,” said Melanie McKay-Cody, who identifies herself as Cherokee Deaf and is an expert in anthropological linguistics. . . .
In short, the language was decimated due to government policy but there are still a few native speakers left and (as with all things native American at the moment) there is something of a renaissance going on right now.

This recent Youtube video covers some of the same ground, and the Wikipedia article has some more information and resources.
posted by flug at 12:48 PM on October 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

« Older Fix for scratchy tagless tshirts?   |   DTMFA or wait for more? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments