Narratives – Na-Wa-Gi-Jig’s Story – Sign Language

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The following is contributed by Mr. Francis Jacker:

This narrative was related to me by John Na-wa-gi-jig (literally “noon-day sky”), an aged Ojibwa, with whom I have been intimately connected for a long period of years. He delivered his story, referring to one of the many incidents in his perilous life, orally, but with pantomimes so graphic and vivid that it may be presented truly as a specimen of gesture language. Indeed, to any one familiar with Indian mimicry, the story might have been intelligible without the expedient of verbal language, while the oral exposition, incoherent as it was, could hardly be styled anything better than the subordinate part of the delivery. I have endeavored to reproduce these gestures in their original connections from memory, omitting the verbal accompaniment as far as practicable. In order to facilitate a clear understanding it is stated that the gesturer was in a sitting posture before a camp fire by the lake shore, and facing the locality where the event referred to had actually occurred, viz, a portion of Keweenaw Bay, Lake Superior, in the neighborhood of Portage Entry, as seen by the annexed diagram, Fig. 319. The time of the relation (latter part of April) also coincided with the actual time. In speaking of “arm,” “hand,” “finger,” &c., the “right” is understood if not otherwise specified. “Finger” stands for “forefinger.”

Fig. 319 - Scene of Na-wa-gi-jig's story.
Fig. 319 – Scene of Na-wa-gi-jig’s story.

(1) With the exclamation “me-wi-ja” (a long time ago), uttered in a slow and peculiarly emphatic manner, he elevated the arm above and toward the right at the head, accompanying the motion with an upward wave of the hand and held it thus suspended a moment—a long time ago. (This gesture resembles sign for time, a long, of which it seems to be an abbreviation, and it is not sufficiently clear without the accompanying exclamation.) Withdrawing it slowly, he placed the hand back upon his knee.

(2) He then brought up the left hand toward the temple and tapped his hair, which was gray, with the finger— - hair gray.

(3) From thence he carried it down upon the thigh, placing the extended finger perpendicularly upon a fold of his trousers, which the thumb and finger of the right held grasped in such a manner as to advantageously present the smooth black surface of the cloth— - of that color, i.e., black.

(4) Next, with a powerful strain of the muscles, he slowly stretched out the right arm and fist and grasping the arm about the elbow with the left, he raised the forearm perpendicularly upward, then brought it down with force, tightening the grasp in doing so (fingers pressing upon knuckle, thumb against pit of elbow)— - strength.

(5) Pointing first at me – —you.

(6) He next held out the hand horizontally and flat, palm downward, about four feet above the ground, correcting the measure a moment afterward by elevating hand a few inches higher, and estimated the height thus indicated with a telling look, leaning the head toward the side— - about that height, i.e., a youth of about that size.

(7) He then rapidly extended the arm about two-thirds of its length forward and toward the right, terminating the motion with a jerk of the hand upward, palm turned outward, and accompanied the motion with a nod of the head, the hand in its downfall closing and dropping upon knee— - very well.

(8) Musing a few moments, he next slowly extended the arm and pointed with the fingers toward and along the surface of the frozen bay— - out there.

(9) In an easterly direction— - eastward.

(10) Thence turning the arm to the right he nodded the finger toward a projection of land southward at a distance of about two miles—following in each case the direction of the finger with the eyes—and immediately after placed the hand again eastward, indicating the spot with the same emphatic nod of the finger as though carrying the visible distance to a spot upon the expanse of the bay, which, bearing no object, could not be marked otherwise— - two miles out there.

(11) Carrying the finger toward the body, he touched his breast – —I myself.

(12) Thence erected the hand, turning its palm forward, forefinger perpendicularly extended, others slightly closed, and nodded it downward in an explanatory manner, all in an uninterrupted movement—one, meaning in connection with the preceding gesture— - I for one.

(13) Again, with an emphatic movement, he turned the hand upward, slightly erecting the index, thumb pointing forward, remaining fingers partially and naturally opened and more or less separated— - furthermore.

(14) Then quickly and after a moment’s stop brought down the hand to a horizontal position, first and second fingers joining and fully extending during the movement, and pointing forward—another, i.e., joined by another. Repeating this motion, he at the same time called out the name Ga-bi-wa-bi-ko-ke.

(15) Following the exclamation with a repetition of No. 2—gray hair—repeatedly touching the hair, meaning in this case— - an old man.

(16) Pointed with the finger toward the right, directing it obliquely toward the ground— - at a short distance toward my right.

(17) Repeated No. 13— - furthermore.

(18) Repeated No. 14, adding the third finger to joined fore and middle fingers, thumb resting upon tip of fourth—another, i.e., joined by a third, and pronounced the words “o-gwis-san Sa-ba-dis” (this is a corruption of the French “Jean Baptiste,” a favorite name among Christianized Indians)— - John Baptist, his son, while repeating the movement.

(19) Held up the three separated fingers perpendicularly in front of the face, pushing the hand forward a little – —three in all.

(20) Presently lowered the hand, fingers relaxing, and carried it a short distance toward the left, thence back to the right, fingers pointing obliquely toward the ground in each case— - placed to the right and left of me at a short distance.

(21) He then brought the hand—back toward the right, index horizontally extended, remaining fingers closed, thumb placed against second finger—in front of abdomen, and moved it slowly up and down two or three times, giving it a slight jerk at the upward motion, and raising the arm partially in doing so. At the same time he inclined the body forward a little, eyes looking down – —fishing. This refers to fishing on the ice, and, as may be inferred from it, to the use of hook and line. A short stick to which the line is attached serves as a rod and is moved up and down in the manner described.

(22) After a short pause he elevated the hand, directing the index toward that point of the meridian which the sun passes at about the tenth hour of the day, and following the direction with, the eye— - about ten o’clock.

(23) Turning his face toward the southwest and holding up the flat and extended hand some distance in front of it, back outward, he waved it briskly and several times toward the face – —fresh breeze from the southwest.

(24) Repeated No. 21 (fishing), playing the imaginary fish-line up and down regularly for a while, till all at once he changed the movement by raising the hand in an oblique course, which movement he repeated several times, each time increasing the divergence and the length of the motion— - the fish-hook don’t sink perpendicularly any longer, i.e., it is moving.

(25) Quickly erecting his body he looked around him with surprise – —looking with surprise.

(26) Shading his eyes with the hand, gazed intensively toward the south— - fixedly gazing toward the south.

(27) Threw up his arm almost perpendicularly the next moment— - greatly astonished.

(28) Extended and slowly moved the arm from southeast to northwest as far as he could reach, at the same time exclaiming “mig-wam” “ice”— - the ice from shore to shore.

(29) Approximated the flat and horizontally extended hands, backs upward, with their inner edges touching, whereupon, suddenly turning the edges downward, he withdrew them laterally, backs nearly opposed to each other— - parting.

(30) Pushed the left hand, palm outward, fingers joined, edges up and down, forward and toward its side with a full sweep of the arm, head following the movement— - pushed in that direction, i.e., northeastward.

(31) Repeated No. 23, but waved the hand only once and with a quick and more powerful movement toward the face— - by the force of the wind.

(32) Rotated hands in front of body, rolling them tips over tips very rapidly, fingers with thumbs nearly collected to a point – —winding up the hook-line in a hurry.

(33) Quickly passed the hand toward the left breast of his coat— - putting it in pocket.

(34) And bending the body forward made motion as if picking up something— - picking up.

(35) Raised the hand closed to fist, arm elevated so as to form a right angle with elbow, and made a short stroke downward and toward the left— - hatchet.

(36) Thence moved the hand to side of breast and pushed it down the waist – —putting it into belt.

(37) Placed the closed hands to each side of the waist (thumbs upward with tips facing each other) and approximated them rapidly and with a jerk in front of navel – —tightening the belt.

(38) With both hands lowered to the ground, he described an elongated oval around his foot by placing tips of forefingers together in front of the toes and passing them around each side, meeting the fingers behind the heel and running them jointly backward a few inches to indicate a tail – —snow-shoe.

(39) Raised up the heel, resting the foot on the toes and turning it a little toward the right, brought it back in a downward movement with a jerk— - putting it on.

(40) Waved the left hand emphatically forward, palm backward, fingers joined and pointing downward, extending them forward at termination of motion, at the same time pushing forward the head— - starting.

(41) Directed the finger of the same hand toward the light-house – —toward that point.

(42) Pointed with extended first two fingers of the same hand, thumb with remaining fingers partially extended to right and to left— - companions.

(43) Repeated No. 40 (starting) less emphatically.

(44) Made several very quick jumping movements forward with the extended left fingers, joined, back upward— - going very fast.

(45) Repeated No. 23 (wind), increasing the force of the movement and terminating the sign with the second repetition (wave) – —wind increasing.

(46) Raised up the hand in front of head and then arrested it a moment, palm outward, fingers extended, upward and forward – —halt.

(47) Partially turning the body toward the north he lowered the extended hand, back forward, fingers joined and pointing downward toward the left of his feet and moved it closely in front of them, and with a cutting motion, toward the right, following the movement with the eye— - cut off right before feet, i.e., standing on the very edge.

(48) Still facing the north, he carried the hand, back upward, fingers joined and extended, from left side of body outward and toward the right horizontally, indicating the rippled surface of turbulent water by an appropriate motion, and extending the arm to full length, fingers pointing northeastward (toward the right) at termination of motion, and accompanied the movement with a corresponding turn of the head, eyes gazing far into distance – —water all along the shore.

(49) Pushed the extended finger, back upward, forward (i.e., northward) in a slightly arched movement— - across.

(50) Directing it toward an object (tree) at a distance of about one hundred yards the next moment— - a distance of about one hundred yards.

(51) Repeated No. 49 (across) without interrupting the motion— - that distance placed across.

(52) Motions as follows: Hands naturally relaxed, edges up and down, backs outward, are with a quick movement and simultaneously carried from the epigastrium forward and toward their sides, arms being extended from elbows only. The hands change their position during the movement and are ultimately placed palms upward, thumbs and fingers extended and widely separated, pointing forward. This is the general sign for doubt. He also turned the face from one side to the other as though interrogating his companions— - what are we to do?

(53) Repeated No. 35 (hatchet).

(54) Raised up the finger perpendicularly, other fingers closed, thumb resting against second, and emphatically inclined it forward— - only one.

(55) Elevated the arm from the elbow toward the head, hand naturally relaxed, back obliquely upward, inclining the face sideward with a look of consternation, simultaneously, and again mechanically lowered it, dropping palm of hand heavily upon the knee – —”bad fix.”

(56) Placed the hand to his hip and raised it up, closed to fist, by a rapid and very energetic movement, ejaculating haw! – —quick to the work (referring to the ax or hatchet).

(57) Turning the body downward, he passed the hand, with forefinger directed toward the ground, forward, sideward, and backward, in three movements, each time turning at a right angle— - measuring off a square piece on the ground, i.e., on the ice.

(58) Looked and pointed toward an object some twenty feet off, then opposed palms of hands horizontally, and at a short distance from each other, connecting both movements in such a manner as to clearly illustrate their meaning – —about twenty feet wide.

(59) Moved the hand—fist, thumb upward—several times quickly up and down a few inches, the arm progressing forward at every stroke – —cutting it off.

(60) Repeated No. 55 (bad fix), meaning in this case—bad job.

(61) Opposed the palms of both hands, vertically, at a distance of eight inches, holding them thus steady a moment and estimating the thus indicated measure with the eyes— - eight inches thick.

(62) Then struck the palm of left with the back of arched right forcibly— - solid ice.

(63) Laid the joined and extended first two fingers, palm up, across side of leg, a foot above heel, accompanying the movement with the eye— - one foot deep.

(64) Pushed downward perpendicularly and from same point the flat, extended hand—sinking, or giving in—and turning the hand upward at wrist, back downward, he flirted up the fingers several times quickly— - water – —slush and water.

(65) Passed one hand over the other as in the act of pulling off mittens – —mittens.

(66) Made the motion of wringing out a wet piece of cloth— - wringing wet.

(67) Grasped a fold of his trowsers (below the knee) and wrung it – —trowsers also wet.

(68) Placed palms of both hands upon legs, near to the ankles, and dragged them up to the knees— - up to the knees.

(69) Shivered – —feeling cold.

(70) Pointed with thumb backward and toward the right (designating his companion) and repeated No. 2 (hair gray)— - my old companion, i.e., Ga-bi-wa-bi-ko-ke.

(71) Repeated No. 69 (feeling cold) more emphatically— - more so, i.e., suffering worse from the cold.

(72) Repeated No. 59 (cutting the ice).

(73) Made sign for tired – —getting tired, as follows: The left arm is partly extended forward, and is gently struck near the bend of the elbow, usually above it, with the palm of the right hand, at the same time the head is usually inclined to the left side, then in similar manner the right arm is extended and struck by the left hand, and the head in turn inclined to the right.

(74) Repeated No. 35 —(hatchet).

(75) Turned the slightly closed left (thumb obliquely upward) over to its side, partially opening it in so doing, fingers pointing to left – —passing it over to his companion at the left, i.e., Sabadis.

(76) Flung forefingers of both hands, backs forward, thumbs upward, remaining fingers partially closed, toward their respective sides alternately— - by turns.

(77) Repeated No. 59 (cutting the ice).

(78) Elevated the hand above head, thumb and first two fingers extended and directed toward the western meridian, and shook it emphatically and with a tremulous motion up and down while thus suspended— - at a late hour.

(79) Followed with the sign for done, finished, as follows: Left hand, with forearm horizontally extended toward the right, is held naturally relaxed, back outward, a few inches in front of body and at a right angle with opposite hand, which is placed on a higher level, slightly arched, edge downward, fingers joined and extended forward. Pass the right quickly and with a cutting motion downward and toward its side, at the same time withdraw the left a few inches toward the opposite direction— - finished our work.

(80) Quickly threw up his arm, ejaculating “haw!”— - let us start.

(81) Passed both hands approximated in front of body, naturally relaxed, backs outward, forward and toward their respective sides, extending and widely separating the fingers during the movement, and again approximating them with quickly accelerated speed and arresting them, closed to fists, in front of body and with a jerk upward— - with united efforts.

(82) Placing the fists, thumbs upward, pointing forward and placed upon side of forefingers, with their wrists against the breast, he pushed them forward and downward a few inches, head slightly participating in the movement— - pushing off.

(83) Repeated No. 38 (snow-shoe)— – with snow-shoes.

(84) Immediately reassumed the position of “pushing off” as in No. 82, slowly passing forward the fists further and further— - pushing and gradually moving off.

(85) Quickly passed and turned the closed left forward, upward, and backward, opening and again closing the fingers in so doing, and executing at almost the same instant a similar, but smaller, revolution with the right— - turning over the snow-shoe, tail up.

(86) With both hands closed to fists, left obliquely over the right and on the right side of the body, made motion as if paddling— - paddling.

(87) Moved and pointed finger of left towards its side, i.e., northward— - toward the shore.

(88) Moved both hands, flat and extended, backs upward, toward the left side, by an even and very slow movement— - moving along very slowly toward that direction.

(89) Repeated No. 23— - southwest wind.

(90) Repeated No. 30— - pushing northeastward.

(91) Turned the thumb of left over to the left— - Sabadis.

(92) Repeated No. 32 (winding up), reversing the motion— - winding off the hook-line.

(93) Approximated both hands with their tips horizontally in front of body, first two fingers with thumb collected to a point, and moving the fingers as in the act of twisting a cord, gradually receded the hands— - twisting.

(94) Thrust forward three fingers of the right – —three, i.e., hook-lines.

(95) Repeated No. 93, then rubbed palm of flat and extended right forward over the thigh repeatedly and with a slight pressure— - twisting them tightly.

(96) Approximated both hands closed to fists, thumbs upward, in front of body and pulled them asunder repeatedly by short, quick, and sudden jerks— - proving strength of line.

(97) Hooked the forefinger, hand turned downward at wrist, remaining fingers closed, thumb resting upon first— - fish-hook.

(98) Raised and curved three fingers and thrust them forward a little separated, back to the front— - three, i.e., hooks.

(99) Collecting fore and middle fingers of each hand to a point with thumb, he opposed tips of both hands, vertically describing with the upper hand several short circular movements around the tip of the lower— - tying together.

(100) Hooked the separated fore and middle fingers of the right, pointing upward, back forward, and placed the hooked finger of the left, palm forward, in front and partially between the fork of the first— - in the shape of an anchor.

(101) Thrust both hands, backs upward, fingers extended and separated, forward (i.e., northward), vigorously, left being foremost— - throwing toward the shore.

(102) Thence elevating the right toward the head, he thrust it downward in an oblique direction, fore and middle fingers extended and joined with the thumb— - sinking.

(103) Placing hands in the position attained last in No. 100 (throwing out toward shore), he closed the fingers, drawing the hands back toward the body and leaning backward simultaneously— - hauling in.

(104) Elevated the naturally closed hand to side of head, fingers opening and separating during the movement—at the same time and with a slight jerk of the shoulders inclining the head sideward—and again closed and slowly dropped it upon knee— - in vain.

(105) Dropped the finger perpendicularly downward, following the movement with the eye – —bottom.

(106) Passed the flat hand, palm down, from side to side in a smooth and horizontal movement— - smooth.

(107) Made the sign for stone, rock, as follows: With the back of the arched right hand (H) strike repeatedly in the palm of the left, held horizontal, back outward, at the height of the breast and about a foot in front, the ends of the fingers pointing in opposite directions.

(108) Repeated No. 100— - anchor.

(109) Dragged the curved fore and middle fingers over the back of the extended left— - dragging.

(110) Waved the left—bent at the wrist, back outward—forward and upward from body, extending the arm to full length, at the same time inclining and pushing forward the head, and repeated the gesture more emphatically – —trying again and again.

(111) Waved both hands—backs outward, fingers slightly joined, tips facing each other and closely approximated in front of breast—forward and toward their respective sides a short distance, turning the palms upward during the movement, thumb and fingers being extended and widely separated toward the last. At the same time he inclined the head to one side, face expressing disappointment— - all in vain.

(112) Repeated No. 80 – —Let us start anew!

(113) Repeated No. 86— - paddling.

(114) Repeated the preceding gesture, executing the movement only once very emphatically – —vigorously.

(115) Waved the finger toward the place of the setting sun, following the direction with the eye— - day is near its close.

(116) Repeated No. 69, more emphatically— - feeling very cold.

(117) Repeated No. 70— - Ga-bi-wa bi-ko-ke.

(118) Made sign for without, dropping the hands powerless at the sides, with a corresponding movement of head— - exhausted.

(119) Pointed with finger toward the light-house and drawing back the finger a little, pushed it forward in the same direction, fully extending the arm— - that distance, i.e., one mile beyond light-house.

(120) Elevated both hands to height of shoulder, fingers extended toward the right, backs upward, moving them horizontally forward—left foremost—with an impetuous motion toward the last— - drifted out.

(121) Repeated No. 86, executing the movement a series of times without interruption and very energetically— - paddling steadily and vigorously.

(122) Pointed with the left forefinger to his breast – —I myself.

(123) Waved the thumb of the same hand over to left side without interrupting motion of hand— - and Sabadis.

(124) Moved the extended left—back upward, fingers slightly joined—toward left side, and downward a few inches – —shore.

(125) Elevated it to level of eyes, fingers joined and extended, palm toward the right, approaching it toward the face by a slow interrupted movement— - drawing nearer and nearer.

(126) Drawing a deep breath – —relieved.

(127) Repeated No. 86 very emphatically – —paddling with increased courage and vigor.

(128) Gazed and pointed northeastward, shading the eyes with the hand, at the same time pushing the left—bent downward at wrist, palm backward—forward in that direction, arm fully extended, fingers separated and pointing ahead at termination of motion— - out there at a great distance.

(129) Made a lateral movement with the hand flat and extended over the field of ice in front of him— - the ice-field.

(130) Described a series of waves with the flat and extended left, back upward, horizontally outward— - sea getting turbulent.

(131) Joyously flourished the hand above head, while pronouncing the word ke-ya-bi— – only yet.

(132) Pointed the finger toward the upturned root of a tree a few yards off, thence carrying it forward directed it toward the shore in front— - a few yards from shore.

(133) Pointing toward the sun first, he placed palms of both hands in opposition vertically, a space of only an inch or two intervening, with a glance sideways at the height thus indicated – —the sun just setting.

(134) Made three vigorous strokes with the imaginary paddle— - three more paddle-strokes.

(135) Moved both hands (flat and extended, backs upward) evenly and horizontally toward the left, terminating the movement by turning hands almost perpendicularly upward at wrist, thus arresting them suddenly— - the ice-raft runs up against the shore.

(136) Lastly threw up the hand perpendicularly above head, and bringing it down, placed the palm gently over the heart with an air of solemnity – —we are saved.

Free translation of the story.

Many years ago—my hair, then black and smooth, has since turned gray; I was then in the prime of life; you, I suppose, were a young lad at that time—the following incident occurred to me:

Yonder on the ice, two miles eastward, I was one day fishing in company with two others, the old Gabiwabikoke and his son John Baptist. It was about ten o’clock in the morning—a fresh breeze from the southwest had previously been getting up—when the hook-line which I was playing up and down began to take an oblique course as though it were moved by a current. Surprised, I looked up and around me. When glancing toward the south I saw a dark streak stretching from shore to shore across the bay; the ice had parted and the wind was carrying it out toward the open lake. In an instant I had wound up my hook-line, picked up my hatchet and snow-shoes, which I put on my feet, and hurried—the others following my example—toward the nearest point of land, yonder where the light-house stands. The wind was increasing and we traveled as fast as we could. There we arrived at the very edge of the ice, a streak of water about one hundred yards in width extending northward along the shore as far as we could see. What to begin with, nothing but a single hatchet? We were in a bad situation. Well, something had to be done. I measured off a square piece on the ice and began cutting it off with the hatchet, a hard and tedious labor. The ice was only eight inches thick, but slush and water covered it to the depth of a foot. I soon had my mittens and trowsers wringing wet and began to feel cold and tired. The old Gabiwabikoke was in a worse state than I. His son next took the hatchet and we all worked by turns. It was about two o’clock in the afternoon when we finished our work. With the help of our snow-shoes (stemming their tail-ends against the edge of the solid ice), we succeeded in pushing off our raft. Turning our snow-shoes the other way (using their tails as handles), we commenced paddling with them toward the shore. It was a very slow progress, as the wind drifted us outward continually. John Baptist managed to twist our three hook-lines into a strong cord, and tying the hooks together in the shape of an anchor, he threw it out toward the shore. Hauling in the line the hooks dragged over the smooth rock bottom and would not catch. Repeated trials were of no avail. We all resumed our former attempt and paddled away with increased energy. The day was drawing near its close, and we began to feel the cold more bitterly. Gabiwabikoke was suffering badly from its effects and was entirely played out. We had already drifted more than a mile beyond the light-house point. John Baptist and I continued paddling steadily and vigorously, and felt relieved and encouraged when we saw the shore draw near and nearer. The ice-field, by this time, was miles away to the northeast, and a sea was getting up. At last, just when the sun was setting, only a few yards separated us from the shore; three more paddle-strokes and our raft ran up against the beach. We were safe.

The oral part of the story in the language of the narrator, with a literal translation into English.

(1) Men’wija
a long time ago

(2) aw ninisis’san
this my hair

(3) me’gwa giijina’gwak tibi’shko aw
while it looked like that

(4) me’gwa gimashkaw’isian
while I possessed strength

(5) kin dash
you and (i.e., and you)

(6) ga’nabatch kikwiwi’sensiwina’ban
perhaps (probably) were a boy

(7) mi’iw
very well

(8)-(10) iwe’di
there

(11)(12) nin be’jig
I one

(13) mi’nawa
again (furthermore)

(14) Gabiwa’bikoke
“The Miner”

(15) akiwen’si
old man

(16) Expressed by gesture only.

(17) The same as No. 13.

(18) ogwis’san ga’ie, Sabadis
his son too, John Baptist.

(19) mi minik’
so many

(20)(21) Gestures only.

(22) mi wa’pi
thus far, i.e., at that time.

(23) we’ai gion’din
then the wind blew from

(24) me’gwa nin wewe’banabina’ban
while I was (in the act of) fishing with the hook
    nin’goting gonin’gotchi
at one time somewhere (out of its course)
    oda’bigamo nimigis’skane’ab
was drawn my hook line

(25) a’nin ejiwe’bak?
how it happens?

(26) Gesture only.

(27) taai’!
ho!

(28) mi’gwam
the ice

(29) ma’dja
goes

(30)(31) Gestures only.

(32) we’wib
quickly

(33)(34) Gestures only.

(35) wagak’wadons
hatchet

(36) (37) Gestures only.

(38) (39) nin bita’gime
I put on snowshoes

(40) win madja’min
we go (start)

(41) Gestures only.

(42) (43) mamaw’e
together

(44) Gesture only.

(45) esh’kam ki’tchi no’din
more big wind

(46) Gesture only.

(47) mi ja’igwa gima’djishkad (i.e., mi’gwam)
already has moved off (i.e., the ice)

(48) (49) Gestures only.

(50) mi’wapi
thus far, i.e., at such a distance

(51) Gesture only.

(52) a’nin dash gediji’tehigeiang?
how (i.e., what) shall we do?

(53) (54) mi e’ta be’jigwang wagak’wadons
only one hatchet

(55) ge’get gisan’agissimin
indeed we are badly off.

(56) haw! bak’wewada mi’gwam!
well! (hallo!) let us cut the ice!

(57) (58) (59) Gestures only.

(60) sa’nagad
it is bad (hard)

(61) mi epi’tading
so it is thick (so thick is it)

(62) Gesture only.

(63) mi dash mi’nawa minik’
that again much (that much again)

(64) nibi’ gon ga’ie
water snow too (water and snow)

(65) nimidjik a’wanag
my mittens

(66) a’pitchi
very much

(67) nindas’san gaie
my trowsers two

(68) Gestures only.

(69) nin gi’katch ja’igwa
        I feel cold already

(70) aw sa kiwen’si
the old man

(71) nawatch’ win’
more yet he

(72) Gesture only.

(73) nind aie’kos ja’igwa
I am tired already

(74) Gesture only.

(75) Sa’badis
John Baptist

(76) memesh’kwat kaki’na
by turns all

(77) Gesture only.

(78) wi’ka ga’ishkwanawo’kweg
late in the afternoon

(79) mi gibakwewangid
now it is cut loose

(80) haw!
well! (ho!)

(81) mama’we
together

(82) Gesture only.

(83) a’gimag
snowshoes

(84) ma’djishka
it is moving

(85)-(87) Gestures only.

(88) aga’wa ma’djishkca
scarcely it moves (very little)

(89) no’din
wind

(90) Gesture only.

(91) Sa’badis
John Baptist

(92) migiss’kaneyab
hook-line

(93) (94) oginisswa’biginan
he twisted three cords together

(95)-(98) Gestures only.

(99) oginisso’bidonan (i.e., migaskanan)
he tied together three (i.e., hooks)

(100) Gesture only.

(101) ogiaba’gidonan dash
he threw it out

(102) Gesture only.

(103) owikobi’donan
he wants to draw it in

(104) kawes’sa
in vain (“no go”)

(105)-(108) Gestures only.

(109) ka’win sagakwidis’sinon
(not) it don’t catch on the rock-bottom

(110) mi’nawa—mo’jag
again—often (repeatedly)

(111) The same as No. 104.

(112) The same as No. 80.

(113) Gesture only.

(114) e’nigok
vigorously

(115) ja’igwa ona’kwishi
already evening

(116) esh’kam kis’sina
more cold (getting colder)

(117) The same as No. 70.

(118) mi ja’igwa gianiji’tang
already he has given up

(119) was’sa ja’igwa
far already

(120) niwebas’himin
we have drifted out

(121) Gesture only.

(122) (123) mi’sa e’ta mij’iang
(now) only we are two

(124) Gesture only.

(125) ja’igwa tehi’gibig
already near to shore

(126) mi ja’igwa anibonen’damang
now we catch new spirits

(127) esh’kam nigijijaw’isimin
more we are strong (i.e., our strength and courage increases)

(128) (129) e-eh! was’sa ja’igwa’
oh! far already
mi’gwam!
the ice!

(130) ja’igwa
already

(131) ke’abi
yet

(132) go’mapi
so far perhaps

(133) ge’ga bangi’shimo
nearly sundown

(134) Gesture only.

(135) mi gibima’jagang
we have landed

(136) mi gibima’disiang
we have saved our lives.



MLA Source Citation:

Sign Language Among North American Indians Compared with that Among Other Peoples and Deaf-Mutes. 1881 AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 29 July 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/narratives-na-wa-gi-jigs-story-sign-language.htm - Last updated on Jan 5th, 2014


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