To What Extent Prevalent as a System – Sign Language

Search Fold3 for your
Native American Records

The assertion has been made by many writers, and is currently repeated by Indian traders and some Army officers, that all the tribes of North America have long had and still use a common and identical sign language, in which they can communicate freely without oral assistance. Although this remarkable statement is at variance with some of the principles of the formation and use of signs set forth by Dr. E.B. Tylor, whose admirable chapters on gesture speech in his Researches into the Early History of Mankind have in a great degree prompted the present inquiries, that eminent authority did not see fit to discredit it. He repeats the report as he received it, in the words that “the same signs serve as a medium of converse from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico.” Its truth or falsity can only be established by careful comparison of lists or vocabularies of signs taken under test conditions at widely different times and places. For this purpose lists have been collated by the writer, taken in different parts of the country at several dates, from the last century to the last month, comprising together several thousand signs, many of them, however, being mere variants or synonyms for the same object or quality, some being repetitions of others and some of small value from uncertainty in description or authority, or both.

MLA Source Citation:

Sign Language Among North American Indians Compared with that Among Other Peoples and Deaf-Mutes. 1881 Web. 17 December 2014. - Last updated on Jan 5th, 2014

Topics: , ,

Contribute to the Conversation!

Our "rules" are simple. Keep the conversation on subject and mind your manners! If this is your first time posting, we do moderate comments before we let them appear... so give us a while to get to them. Once we get to know you here, we'll remove that requirement.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Newsletter Signup

We currently provide two newsletters. Why not take both for a run?

Genealogy Update: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new, or significantly updated, collection or database on our website.

Circle of Nations: We send out this newsletter whenever we feature a new (or significantly updated) Native American collection or database on our website.

Once you've clicked on the Subscribe button above you'll receive an email from us requesting confirmation. You must confirm the email before you will be able to receive any newsletter.

Connect With Us!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!