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Title: Sign Language Among North American Indians Compared With That Among Other Peoples And Deaf-Mutes - First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1879-1880, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1881, pages 263-552
Author: Mallery, Garrick, 1831-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sign Language Among North American Indians Compared With That Among Other Peoples And Deaf-Mutes - First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1879-1880, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1881, pages 263-552" ***

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  |  Transcriber's Notes: The original uses a       |
  |    special character of an "n" with a macron,   |
  |    represented here by "ñ".                     |
  |                                                 |
  | The verses in the section on GESTURES OF ACTORS |
  | are loosely quoted from "The Rosciad" by        |
  | Charles Churchill, which more accurately reads: |
  |                                                 |
  | "When to enforce some very tender part,         |
  | The right hand slips by instinct on the heart,  |
  | His soul, of every other thought bereft,        |
  | Is anxious only where to place the left;"       |









       *       *       *       *       *


  FIG.                                PAGE

  61. Affirmation, approving. Old Roman 286
  62. Approbation. Neapolitan 286
  63. Affirmation, approbation. N.A. Indian 286
  64. Group. Old Greek. Facing 289
  65. Negation. Dakota 290
  66. Love. Modern Neapolitan 290
  67. Group. Old Greek. Facing 290
  68. Hesitation. Neapolitan 291
  69. Wait. N.A. Indian 291
  70. Question, asking. Neapolitan 291
  71. Tell me. N.A. Indian 291
  72. Interrogation. Australian 291
  73. Pulcinella 292
  74. Thief. Neapolitan 292
  75. Steal. N.A. Indian 293
  76. Public writer. Neapolitan group. Facing 296
  77. Money. Neapolitan 297
  78. "Hot Corn." Neapolitan Group. Facing 297
  79. "Horn" sign. Neapolitan 298
  80. Reproach. Old Roman 298
  81. Marriage contract. Neapolitan group. Facing 298
  82. Negation. Pai-Ute sign 299
  83. Coming home of bride. Neapolitan group. Facing 299
  84. Pretty. Neapolitan 300
  85. "Mano in fica." Neapolitan 300
  86. Snapping the fingers. Neapolitan 300
  87. Joy, acclamation 300
  88. Invitation to drink wine  300
  89. Woman's quarrel. Neapolitan Group. Facing 301
  90. Chestnut vender. Facing 301
  91. Warning. Neapolitan 302
  92. Justice. Neapolitan 302
  93. Little. Neapolitan 302
  94. Little. N.A. Indian 302
  95. Little. N.A. Indian 302
  96. Demonstration. Neapolitan 302
  97. "Fool." Neapolitan 303
  98. "Fool." Ib. 303
  99. "Fool." Ib. 303
  100. Inquiry. Neapolitan 303
  101. Crafty, deceitful. Neapolitan 303
  102. Insult. Neapolitan 304
  103. Insult. Neapolitan 304
  104. Silence. Neapolitan 304
  105. Child. Egyptian hieroglyph 304
  106. Negation. Neapolitan 305
  107. Hunger. Neapolitan 305
  108. Mockery. Neapolitan 305
  109. Fatigue. Neapolitan 305
  110. Deceit. Neapolitan 305
  111. Astuteness, readiness. Neapolitan 305
  112. Tree. Dakota, Hidatsa 343
  113. To grow. N.A. Indian 343
  114. Rain. Shoshoni, Apache 344
  115. Sun. N.A. Indian 344
  116. Sun. Cheyenne 344
  117. Soldier. Arikara 345
  118. No, negation. Egyptian 355
  119. Negation. Maya 356
  120. Nothing. Chinese 356
  121. Child. Egyptian figurative 356
  122. Child. Egyptian linear 356
  123. Child. Egyptian hieratic 356
  124. Son. Ancient Chinese 356
  125. Son. Modern Chinese 356
  126. Birth. Chinese character 356
  127. Birth. Dakota 356
  128. Birth, generic. N.A. Indians 357
  129. Man. Mexican 357
  130. Man. Chinese character 357
  131. Woman. Chinese character 357
  132. Woman. Ute 357
  133. Female, generic. Cheyenne 357
  134. To give water. Chinese character 357
  135. Water, to drink. N.A. Indian 357
  136. Drink. Mexican 357
  137. Water. Mexican 357
  138. Water, giving. Egypt 358
  139. Water. Egyptian 358
  140. Water, abbreviated 358
  141. Water. Chinese character 358
  142. To weep. Ojibwa pictograph 358
  143. Force, vigor. Egyptian 358
  144. Night. Egyptian 358
  145. Calling upon. Egyptian figurative 359
  146. Calling upon. Egyptian linear 359
  147. To collect, to unite. Egyptian 359
  148. Locomotion. Egyptian figurative 359
  149. Locomotion. Egyptian linear 359
  150. Shuⁿ'-ka Lu'-ta. Dakota 365
  151. "I am going to the east." Abnaki 369
  152. "Am not gone far." Abnaki 369
  153. "Gone far." Abnaki 370
  154. "Gone five days' journey." Abnaki 370
  155. Sun. N.A. Indian 370
  156. Sun. Egyptian 370
  157. Sun. Egyptian 370
  158. Sun with rays. Ib. 371
  159. Sun with rays. Ib. 371
  160. Sun with rays. Moqui pictograph 371
  161. Sun with rays. Ib. 371
  162. Sun with rays. Ib. 371
  163. Sun with rays. Ib. 371
  164. Star. Moqui pictograph 371
  165. Star. Moqui pictograph 371
  166. Star. Moqui pictograph 371
  167. Star. Moqui pictograph 371
  168. Star. Peruvian pictograph 371
  169. Star. Ojibwa pictograph 371
  170. Sunrise. Moqui do. 371
  171. Sunrise. Ib. 371
  172. Sunrise. Ib. 371
  173. Moon, month. Californian pictograph 371
  174. Pictograph, including sun. Coyotero Apache 372
  175. Moon. N.A. Indian 372
  176. Moon. Moqui pictograph 372
  177. Moon. Ojibwa pictograph 372
  178. Sky. Ib. 372
  179. Sky. Egyptian character 372
  180. Clouds. Moqui pictograph 372
  181. Clouds. Ib. 372
  182. Clouds. Ib. 372
  183. Cloud. Ojibwa pictograph 372
  184. Rain. New Mexican pictograph 373
  185. Rain. Moqui pictograph 373
  186. Lightning. Moqui pictograph 373
  187. Lightning. Ib. 373
  188. Lightning, harmless. Pictograph at Jemez, N.M. 373
  189. Lightning, fatal. Do. 373
  190. Voice. "The-Elk-that-hollows-walking" 373
  191. Voice. Antelope. Cheyenne drawing 373
  192. Voice, talking. Cheyenne drawing 374
  193. Killing the buffalo. Cheyenne drawing 375
  194. Talking. Mexican pictograph 376
  195. Talking, singing. Maya character 376
  196. Hearing ears. Ojibwa pictograph 376
  197. "I hear, but your words are from a bad heart." Ojibwa 376
  198. Hearing serpent. Ojibwa pictograph 376
  199. Royal edict. Maya 377
  200. To kill. Dakota 377
  201. "Killed Arm." Dakota 377
  202. Pictograph, including "kill." Wyoming Ter. 378
  203. Pictograph, including "kill." Wyoming Ter. 378
  204. Pictograph, including "kill." Wyoming Ter. 379
  205. Veneration. Egyptian character 379
  206. Mercy. Supplication, favor. Egyptian 379
  207. Supplication. Mexican pictograph 380
  208. Smoke. Ib. 380
  209. Fire. Ib. 381
  210. "Making medicine." Conjuration. Dakota 381
  211. Meda. Ojibwa pictograph 381
  212. The God Knuphis. Egyptian 381
  213. The God Knuphis. Ib. 381
  214. Power. Ojibwa pictograph 381
  215. Meda's Power. Ib. 381
  216. Trade pictograph 382
  217. Offering. Mexican pictograph 382
  218. Stampede of horses. Dakota 382
  219. Chapultepec. Mexican pictograph 383
  220. Soil. Ib. 383
  221. Cultivated soil. Ib. 383
  222. Road, path. Ib. 383
  223. Cross-roads and gesture sign. Mexican pictograph 383
  224. Small-pox or measles. Dakota 383
  225. "No thoroughfare." Pictograph 383
  226. Raising of war party. Dakota 384
  227. "Led four war parties." Dakota drawing 384
  228. Sociality. Friendship. Ojibwa pictograph 384
  229. Peace. Friendship. Dakota 384
  230. Peace. Friendship with whites. Dakota 385
  231. Friendship. Australian 385
  232. Friend. Brulé Dakota 386
  233. Lie, falsehood. Arikara 393
  234. Antelope. Dakota 410
  235. Running Antelope. Personal totem 410
  236. Bad. Dakota 411
  237. Bear. Cheyenne 412
  238. Bear. Kaiowa, etc. 413
  239. Bear. Ute 413
  240. Bear. Moqui pictograph 413
  241. Brave. N.A. Indian 414
  242. Brave. Kaiowa, etc. 415
  243. Brave. Kaiowa, etc. 415
  244. Chief. Head of tribe. Absaroka 418
  245. Chief. Head of tribe. Pai-Ute 418
  246. Chief of a band. Absaroka and Arikara 419
  247. Chief of a band. Pai-Ute 419
  248. Warrior. Absaroka, etc. 420
  249. Ojibwa gravestone, including "dead" 422
  250. Dead. Shoshoni and Banak 422
  251. Dying. Kaiowa, etc. 424
  252. Nearly dying. Kaiowa 424
  253. Log house. Hidatsa 428
  254. Lodge. Dakota 430
  255. Lodge. Kaiowa, etc. 431
  256. Lodge. Sahaptin 431
  257. Lodge. Pai-Ute 431
  258. Lodge. Pai-Ute 431
  259. Lodge. Kutchin 431
  260. Horse. N.A. Indian 434
  261. Horse. Dakota 434
  262. Horse. Kaiowa, etc. 435
  263. Horse. Caddo 435
  264. Horse. Pima and Papago 435
  265. Horse. Ute 435
  266. Horse. Ute 435
  267. Saddling a horse. Ute 437
  268. Kill. N.A. Indian 438
  269. Kill. Mandan and Hidatsa 439
  270. Negation. No. Dakota 441
  271. Negation. No. Pai-Ute 442
  272. None. Dakota 443
  273. None. Australian 444
  274. Much, quantity. Apache 447
  275. Question. Australian 449
  276. Soldier. Dakota and Arikara 450
  277. Trade. Dakota 452
  278. Trade. Dakota 452
  279. Buy. Ute 453
  280. Yes, affirmation. Dakota 456
  281. Absaroka tribal sign. Shoshoni 458
  282. Apache tribal sign. Kaiowa, etc. 459
  283. Apache tribal sign. Pima and Papago 459
  284. Arikara tribal sign. Arapaho and Dakota 461
  285. Arikara tribal sign. Absaroka 461
  286. Blackfoot tribal sign. Dakota 463
  287. Blackfoot tribal sign. Shoshoni 464
  288. Caddo tribal sign. Arapaho and Kaiowa 464
  289. Cheyenne tribal sign. Arapaho and Cheyenne 464
  290. Dakota tribal sign. Dakota 467
  291. Flathead tribal sign. Shoshoni 468
  292. Kaiowa tribal sign. Comanche 470
  293. Kutine tribal sign. Shoshoni 471
  294. Lipan tribal sign. Apache 471
  295. Pend d'Oreille tribal sign. Shoshoni 473
  296. Sahaptin or Nez Percé tribal sign. Comanche 473
  297. Shoshoni tribal sign. Shoshoni 474
  298. Buffalo. Dakota 477
  299. Eagle Tail. Arikara 477
  300. Eagle Tail. Moqui pictograph 477
  301. Give me. Absaroka 480
  302. Counting. How many? Shoshoni and Banak 482
  303. I am going home. Dakota 485
  304. Question. Apache 486
  305. Shoshoni tribal sign. Shoshoni 486
  306. Chief. Shoshoni 487
  307. Cold, winter, year. Apache 487
  308. "Six." Shoshoni 487
  309. Good, very well. Apache 487
  310. Many. Shoshoni 488
  311. Hear, heard. Apache 488
  312. Night. Shoshoni 489
  313. Rain. Shoshoni 489
  314. See each other. Shoshoni 490
  315. White man, American. Dakota 491
  316. Hear, heard. Dakota 492
  317. Brother. Pai-Ute 502
  318. No, negation. Pai-Ute 503
  319. Scene of Na-wa-gi-jig's story. Facing 508
  320. We are friends. Wichita 521
  321. Talk, talking. Wichita 521
  322. I stay, or I stay right here. Wichita 521
  323. A long time. Wichita 522
  324. Done, finished. Do. 522
  325. Sit down. Australian 523
  326. Cut down. Wichita 524
  327. Wagon. Wichita 525
  328. Load upon. Wichita 525
  329. White man; American. Hidatsa 526
  330. With us. Hidatsa 526
  331. Friend. Hidatsa 527
  332. Four. Hidatsa 527
  333. Lie, falsehood. Hidatsa 528
  334. Done, finished. Hidatsa 528
  335. Peace, friendship. Hualpais. Facing 530
  336. Question, ans'd by tribal sign for Pani. Facing 531
  337. Buffalo discovered. Dakota. Facing 532
  338. Discovery. Dakota. Facing 533
  339. Success of war party. Pima. Facing 538
  340. Outline for arm positions, full face 545
  341. Outline for arm positions, profile 545
  342a. Types of hand positions, A to L 547
  342b. Types of hand positions, M to Y 548
  343. Example. To cut with an ax 550
  344. Example. A lie 550
  345. Example. To ride 551
  346. Example. I am going home 551

       *       *       *       *       *





       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


During the past two years the present writer has devoted the intervals
between official duties to collecting and collating materials for
the study of sign language. As the few publications on the general
subject, possessing more than historic interest, are meager in details
and vague in expression, original investigation has been necessary.
The high development of communication by gesture among the tribes
of North America, and its continued extensive use by many of them,
naturally directed the first researches to that continent, with the
result that a large body of facts procured from collaborators and
by personal examination has now been gathered and classified. A
correspondence has also been established with many persons in other
parts of the world whose character and situation rendered it probable
that they would contribute valuable information. The success of
that correspondence has been as great as could have been expected,
considering that most of the persons addressed were at distant points
sometimes not easily accessible by mail. As the collection of facts
is still successfully proceeding, not only with reference to foreign
peoples and to deaf-mutes everywhere, but also among some American
tribes not yet thoroughly examined in this respect, no exposition of
the subject pretending to be complete can yet be made. In complying,
therefore, with the request to prepare the present paper, it is
necessary to explain to correspondents and collaborators whom it may
reach, that this is not the comprehensive publication by the Bureau
of Ethnology for which their assistance has been solicited. With this
explanation some of those who have already forwarded contributions
will not be surprised at their omission, and others will not desist
from the work in which they are still kindly engaged, under the
impression that its results will not be received in time to meet with
welcome and credit. On the contrary, the urgent appeal for aid before
addressed to officers of the Army and Navy of this and other nations,
to missionaries, travelers, teachers of deaf-mutes, and philologists
generally, is now with equal urgency repeated. It is, indeed, hoped
that the continued presentation of the subject to persons either
having opportunity for observation or the power to favor with
suggestions may, by awakening some additional interest in it, secure
new collaboration from localities still unrepresented.

It will be readily understood by other readers that, as the limits
assigned to this paper permit the insertion of but a small part of the
material already collected and of the notes of study made upon
that accumulation, it can only show the general scope of the work
undertaken, and not its accomplishment. Such extracts from the
collection have been selected as were regarded as most illustrative,
and they are preceded by a discussion perhaps sufficient to be
suggestive, though by no means exhaustive, and designed to be for
popular, rather than for scientific use. In short, the direction to
submit a progress-report and not a monograph has been complied with.


These are corporeal motion and facial expression. An attempt has been
made by some writers to discuss these general divisions separately,
and its success would be practically convenient if it were always
understood that their connection is so intimate that they can never
be altogether severed. A play of feature, whether instinctive or
voluntary, accentuates and qualifies all motions intended to serve
as signs, and strong instinctive facial expression is generally
accompanied by action of the body or some of its members. But, so
far as a distinction can be made, expressions of the features are the
result of emotional, and corporeal gestures, of intellectual action.
The former in general and the small number of the latter that
are distinctively emotional are nearly identical among men from
physiological causes which do not affect with the same similarity
the processes of thought. The large number of corporeal gestures
expressing intellectual operations require and admit of more variety
and conventionality. Thus the features and the body among all mankind
act almost uniformly in exhibiting fear, grief, surprise, and shame,
but all objective conceptions are varied and variously portrayed. Even
such simple indications as those for "no" and "yes" appear in several
differing motions. While, therefore, the terms sign language and
gesture speech necessarily include and suppose facial expression when
emotions are in question, they refer more particularly to corporeal
motions and attitudes. For this reason much of the valuable
contribution of DARWIN in his _Expression of the Emotions in Man and
Animals_ is not directly applicable to sign language. His analysis
of emotional gestures into those explained on the principles of
serviceable associated habits, of antithesis, and of the constitution
of the nervous system, should, nevertheless, always be remembered.
Even if it does not strictly embrace the class of gestures which
form the subject of this paper, and which often have an immediate
pantomimic origin, the earliest gestures were doubtless instinctive
and generally emotional, preceding pictorial, metaphoric, and, still
subsequent, conventional gestures even, as, according to DARWIN's
cogent reasoning, they preceded articulate speech.

While the distinction above made between the realm of facial play and
that of motions of the body, especially those of the arms and hands,
is sufficiently correct for use in discussion, it must be admitted
that the features do express intellect as well as emotion. The
well-known saying of Charles Lamb that "jokes came in with the
candles" is in point, but the most remarkable example of conveying
detailed information without the use of sounds, hands, or arms,
is given by the late President T.H. Gallaudet, the distinguished
instructor of deaf-mutes, which, to be intelligible, requires to be
quoted at length:

"One day, our distinguished and lamented historical painter, Col. John
Trumbull, was in my school-room during the hours of instruction, and,
on my alluding to the tact which the pupil referred to had of reading
my face, he expressed a wish to see it tried. I requested him to
select any event in Greek, Roman, English, or American history of a
scenic character, which would make a striking picture on canvas, and
said I would endeavor to communicate it to the lad. 'Tell him,' said
he, 'that Brutus (Lucius Junius) condemned his two sons to death for
resisting his authority and violating his orders.'

"I folded my arms in front of me, and kept them in that position,
to preclude the possibility of making any signs or gestures, or of
spelling any words on my fingers, and proceeded, as best I could, by
the expression of my countenance, and a few motions of my head and
attitudes of the body, to convey the picture in my own mind to the
mind of my pupil.

"It ought to be stated that he was already acquainted with the fact,
being familiar with the leading events in Roman history. But when I
began, he knew not from what portion of history, sacred or profane,
ancient or modern, the fact was selected. From this wide range,
my delineation on the one hand and his ingenuity on the other had
to bring it within the division of Roman history, and, still more
minutely, to the particular individual and transaction designated by
Colonel Trumbull. In carrying on the process, I made no use whatever
of any arbitrary, conventional look, motion, or attitude, before
settled between us, by which to let him understand what I wished to
communicate, with the exception of a single one, if, indeed, it ought
to be considered such.

"The usual sign, at that time, among the teachers and pupils, for
a Roman, was portraying an aquiline nose by placing the forefinger,
crooked, in front of the nose. As I was prevented from using my finger
in this way, and having considerable command over the muscles of my
face, I endeavored to give my nose as much of the aquiline form as
possible, and succeeded well enough for my purpose....

"The outlines of the process were the following:

"A stretching and stretching gaze eastward, with an undulating motion
of the head, as if looking across and beyond the Atlantic Ocean,
to denote that the event happened, not on the western, but eastern
continent. This was making a little progress, as it took the subject
out of the range of American history.

"A turning of the eyes upward and backward, with frequently-repeated
motions of the head backward, as if looking a great way back in past
time, to denote that the event was one of ancient date.

"The aquiline shape of the nose, already referred to, indicating that
a Roman was the person concerned. It was, of course, an old Roman.

"Portraying, as well as I could, by my countenance, attitude, and
manner an individual high in authority, and commanding others, as if
he expected to be obeyed.

"Looking and acting as if I were giving out a specific order to many
persons, and threatening punishment on those who should resist my
authority, even the punishment of death.

"Here was a pause in the progress of events, which I denoted by
sleeping as it were during the night and awakening in the morning, and
doing this several times, to signify that several days had elapsed.

"Looking with deep interest and surprise, as if at a single person
brought and standing before me, with an expression of countenance
indicating that he had violated the order which I had given, and that
I knew it. Then looking in the same way at another person near him as
also guilty. Two offending persons were thus denoted.

"Exhibiting serious deliberation, then hesitation, accompanied with
strong conflicting emotions, producing perturbation, as if I knew not
how to feel or what to do.

"Looking first at one of the persons before me, and then at the other,
and then at both together, _as a father would look_, indicating his
distressful parental feelings under such afflicting circumstances.

"Composing my feelings, showing that a change was coming over me, and
exhibiting towards the imaginary persons before me the decided look of
the inflexible commander, who was determined and ready to order them
away to execution. Looking and acting as if the tender and forgiving
feelings of _the father_ had again got the ascendency, and as if I was
about to relent and pardon them.

"These alternating states of mind I portrayed several times, to make
my representations the more graphic and impressive.

"At length the father yields, and the stern principle of justice, as
expressed in my countenance and manners, prevails. My look and action
denote the passing of the sentence of death on the offenders, and the
ordering them away to execution.

       *       *       *       *       *

"He quickly turned round to his slate and wrote a correct and complete
account of this story of Brutus and his two sons."

       *       *       *       *       *

While it appears that the expressions of the features are not confined
to the emotions or to distinguishing synonyms, it must be remembered
that the meaning of the same motion of hands, arms, and fingers is
often modified, individualized, or accentuated by associated facial
changes and postures of the body not essential to the sign, which
emotional changes and postures are at once the most difficult to
describe and the most interesting when intelligently reported, not
only because they infuse life into the skeleton sign, but because they
may belong to the class of innate expressions.


In observing the maxim that nothing can be thoroughly understood
unless its beginning is known, it becomes necessary to examine into
the origin of sign language through its connection with that of oral
speech. In this examination it is essential to be free from the vague
popular impression that some oral language, of the general character
of that now used among mankind, is "natural" to mankind. It will be
admitted on reflection that all oral languages were at some past time
far less serviceable to those using them than they are now, and as
each particular language has been thoroughly studied it has become
evident that it grew out of some other and less advanced form. In
the investigation of these old forms it has been so difficult to
ascertain how any of them first became a useful instrument of
inter-communication that many conflicting theories on this subject
have been advocated.

Oral language consists of variations and mutations of vocal sounds
produced as signs of thought and emotion. But it is not enough that
those signs should be available as the vehicle of the producer's own
thoughts. They must be also efficient for the communication of such
thoughts to others. It has been, until of late years, generally held
that thought was not possible without oral language, and that, as man
was supposed to have possessed from the first the power of thought, he
also from the first possessed and used oral language substantially
as at present. That the latter, as a special faculty, formed the
main distinction between man and the brutes has been and still is
the prevailing doctrine. In a lecture delivered before the British
Association in 1878 it was declared that "animal intelligence is
unable to elaborate that class of abstract ideas, the formation of
which depends upon the faculty of speech." If instead of "speech" the
word "utterance" had been used, as including all possible modes of
intelligent communication, the statement might pass without criticism.
But it may be doubted if there is any more necessary connection
between abstract ideas and sounds, the mere signs of thought, that
strike the ear, than there is between the same ideas and signs
addressed only to the eye.

The point most debated for centuries has been, not whether there
was any primitive oral language, but what that language was. Some
literalists have indeed argued from the Mosaic narrative that because
the Creator, by one supernatural act, with the express purpose to
form separate peoples, had divided all tongues into their present
varieties, and could, by another similar exercise of power, obliterate
all but one which should be universal, the fact that he had not
exercised that power showed it not to be his will that any man to
whom a particular speech had been given should hold intercourse with
another miraculously set apart from him by a different speech. By this
reasoning, if the study of a foreign tongue was not impious, it was
at least clear that the primitive language had been taken away as a
disciplinary punishment, as the Paradisiac Eden had been earlier lost,
and that, therefore, the search for it was as fruitless as to attempt
the passage of the flaming sword. More liberal Christians have been
disposed to regard the Babel story as allegorical, if not mythical,
and have considered it to represent the disintegration of tongues
out of one which was primitive. In accordance with the advance of
linguistic science they have successively shifted back the postulated
primitive tongue from Hebrew to Sanscrit, then to Aryan, and now seek
to evoke from the vasty deeps of antiquity the ghosts of other rival
claimants for precedence in dissolution. As, however, the languages of
man are now recognized as extremely numerous, and as the very sounds
of which these several languages are composed are so different that
the speakers of some are unable to distinguish with the ear certain
sounds in others, still less able to reproduce them, the search for
one common parent language is more difficult than was supposed by
mediæval ignorance.

The discussion is now, however, varied by the suggested possibility
that man at some time may have existed without any oral language. It
is conceded by some writers that mental images or representations can
be formed without any connection with sound, and may at least serve
for thought, though not for expression. It is certain that concepts,
however formed, can be expressed by other means than sound. One mode
of this expression is by gesture, and there is less reason to believe
that gestures commenced as the interpretation of, or substitute for
words than that the latter originated in, and served to translate
gestures. Many arguments have been advanced to prove that gesture
language preceded articulate speech and formed the earliest attempt
at communication, resulting from the interacting subjective and
objective conditions to which primitive man was exposed. Some of the
facts on which deductions have been based, made in accordance with
well-established modes of scientific research from study of the lower
animals, children, idiots, the lower types of mankind, and deaf-mutes,
will be briefly mentioned.


Emotional expression in the features of man is to be considered in
reference to the fact that the special senses either have their seat
in, or are in close relation to the face, and that so large a number
of nerves pass to it from the brain. The same is true of the lower
animals, so that it would be inferred, as is the case, that the faces
of those animals are also expressive of emotion. There is also noticed
among them an exhibition of emotion by corporeal action. This is the
class of gestures common to them with the earliest made by man, as
above mentioned, and it is reasonable to suppose that those were made
by man at the time when, if ever, he was, like the animals, destitute
of articulate speech. The articulate cries uttered by some animals,
especially some birds, are interesting as connected with the principle
of imitation to which languages in part owe their origin, but in the
cases of forced imitation, the mere acquisition of a vocal trick,
they only serve to illustrate that power of imitation, and are without
significance. Sterne's starling, after his cage had been opened, would
have continued to complain that he could not get out. If the bird had
uttered an instinctive cry of distress when in confinement and a note
of joy on release, there would have been a nearer approach to language
than if it had clearly pronounced many sentences. Such notes and
cries of animals, many of which are connected with reproduction and
nutrition, are well worth more consideration than can now be given,
but regarding them generally it is to be questioned if they are so
expressive as the gestures of the same animals. It is contended that
the bark of a dog is distinguishable into fear, defiance, invitation,
and a note of warning, but it also appears that those notes have been
known only since the animal has been domesticated. The gestures of
the dog are far more readily distinguished than his bark, as in his
preparing for attack, or caressing his master, resenting an injury,
begging for food, or simply soliciting attention. The chief modern
use of his tail appears to be to express his ideas and sensations. But
some recent experiments of Prof. A. GRAHAM BELL, no less eminent from
his work in artificial speech than in telephones, shows that animals
are more physically capable of pronouncing articulate sounds than has
been supposed. He informed the writer that he recently succeeded by
manipulation in causing an English terrier to form a number of the
sounds of our letters, and particularly brought out from it the words
"How are you, Grandmamma?" with distinctness. This tends to prove
that only absence of brain power has kept animals from acquiring true
speech. The remarkable vocal instrument of the parrot could be used in
significance as well as in imitation, if its brain had been developed
beyond the point of expression by gesture, in which latter the bird is

The gestures of monkeys, whose hands and arms can be used, are nearly
akin to ours. Insects communicate with each other almost entirely by
means of the antennæ. Animals in general which, though not deaf, can
not be taught by sound, frequently have been by signs, and probably
all of them understand man's gestures better than his speech. They
exhibit signs to one another with obvious intention, and they also
have often invented them as a means of obtaining their wants from man.


The wishes and emotions of very young children are conveyed in a
small number of sounds, but in a great variety of gestures and facial
expressions. A child's gestures are intelligent long in advance of
speech; although very early and persistent attempts are made to give
it instruction in the latter but none in the former, from the time
when it begins _risu cognoscere matrem_. It learns words only as they
are taught, and learns them through the medium of signs which are not
expressly taught. Long after familiarity with speech, it consults
the gestures and facial expressions of its parents and nurses as
if seeking thus to translate or explain their words. These facts
are important in reference to the biologic law that the order of
development of the individual is the same as that of the species.

Among the instances of gestures common to children throughout the
world is that of protruding the lips, or pouting, when somewhat angry
or sulky. The same gesture is now made by the anthropoid apes and is
found strongly marked in the savage tribes of man. It is noticed by
evolutionists that animals retain during early youth, and subsequently
lose, characters once possessed by their progenitors when adult, and
still retained by distinct species nearly related to them.

The fact is not, however, to be ignored that children invent words as
well as signs with as natural an origin for the one as for the other.
An interesting case was furnished to the writer by Prof. BELL of an
infant boy who used a combination of sounds given as "nyum-nyum,"
an evident onomatope of gustation, to mean "good," and not only in
reference to articles of food relished but as applied to persons of
whom the child was fond, rather in the abstract idea of "niceness"
in general. It is a singular coincidence that a bright young girl,
a friend of the writer, in a letter describing a juvenile feast,
invented the same expression, with nearly the same spelling, as
characteristic of her sensations regarding the delicacies provided.
The Papuans met by Dr. Comrie also called "eating" _nam-nam_. But the
evidence of all such cases of the voluntary use of articulate speech
by young children is qualified by the fact that it has been inherited
from very many generations, if not quite so long as the faculty of


The insane understand and obey gestures when they have no knowledge
whatever of words. It is also found that semi-idiotic children who
cannot be taught more than the merest rudiments of speech, can receive
a considerable amount of information through signs, and can express
themselves by them. Sufferers from aphasia continue to use appropriate
gestures after their words have become uncontrollable. It is further
noticeable in them that mere ejaculations, or sounds which are only
the result of a state of feeling, instead of a desire to express
thought, are generally articulated with accuracy. Patients who have
been in the habit of swearing preserve their fluency in that division
of their vocabulary.


The signs made by congenital and uninstructed deaf-mutes to be now
considered are either strictly natural signs, invented by themselves,
or those of a colloquial character used by such mutes where
associated. The accidental or merely suggestive signs peculiar to
families, one member of which happens to be a mute, are too much
affected by the other members of the family to be of certain
value. Those, again, which are taught in institutions have become
conventional and designedly adapted to translation into oral speech,
although founded by the abbé de l'Épée, followed by the abbé Sicard,
in the natural signs first above mentioned.

A great change has doubtless occurred in the estimation of congenital
deaf-mutes since the Justinian Code, which consigned them forever to
legal infancy, as incapable of intelligence, and classed them with the
insane. Yet most modern writers, for instance Archbishop Whately and
Max Müller, have declared that deaf-mutes could not think until after
having been instructed. It cannot be denied that the deaf-mute thinks
after his instruction either in the ordinary gesture signs or in
the finger alphabet, or more lately in artificial speech. By this
instruction he has become master of a highly-developed language, such
as English or French, which he can read, write, and actually talk,
but that foreign language he has obtained through the medium of signs.
This is a conclusive proof that signs constitute a real language and
one which admits of thought, for no one can learn a foreign language
unless he had some language of his own, whether by descent or
acquisition, by which it could be translated, and such translation
into the new language could not even be commenced unless the mind had
been already in action and intelligently using the original language
for that purpose. In fact the use by deaf-mutes of signs originating
in themselves exhibits a creative action of mind and innate faculty
of expression beyond that of ordinary speakers who acquired language
without conscious effort. The thanks of students, both of philology
and psychology, are due to Prof. SAMUEL PORTER, of the National Deaf
Mute College, for his response to the question, "Is thought possible
without language?" published in the _Princeton Review_ for January,

With regard to the sounds uttered by deaf-mutes, the same explanation
of heredity may be made as above, regarding the words invented by
young children. Congenital deaf-mutes at first make the same sounds
as hearing children of the same age, and, often being susceptible
to vibrations of the air, are not suspected of being deaf. When that
affliction is ascertained to exist, all oral utterances from the
deaf-mute are habitually repressed by the parents.


The facial expressions and gestures of the congenitally blind are
worthy of attention. The most interesting and conclusive examples
come from the case of Laura Bridgman, who, being also deaf, could not
possibly have derived them by imitation. When a letter from a beloved
friend was communicated to her by gesture-language, she laughed
and clapped her hands. A roguish expression was given to her face,
concomitant with the emotion, by her holding the lower lip by the
teeth. She blushed, shrugged her shoulders, turned in her elbows, and
raised her eye-brows under the same circumstances as other people.
In amazement, she rounded and protruded the lips, opened them, and
breathed strongly. It is remarkable that she constantly accompanied
her "yes" with the common affirmative nod, and her "no" with our
negative shake of the head, as these gestures are by no means
universal and do not seem clearly connected with emotion. This,
possibly, may be explained by the fact that her ancestors for many
generations had used these gestures. A similar curious instance is
mentioned by Cardinal Wiseman (_Essays_, III, 547, _London_, 1853) of
an Italian blind man, the appearance of whose eyes indicated that he
had never enjoyed sight, and who yet made the same elaborate gestures
made by the people with whom he lived, but which had been used by them
immemorially, as correctly as if he had learned them by observation.


When human beings have been long in solitary confinement, been
abandoned, or otherwise have become isolated from their fellows, they
have lost speech either partially or entirely, and required to have
it renewed through gestures. There are also several recorded cases of
children, born with all their faculties, who, after having been lost
or abandoned, have been afterwards found to have grown up possessed
of acute hearing, but without anything like human speech. One of these
was Peter, "the Wild Boy," who was found in the woods of Hanover in
1726, and taken to England, where vain attempts were made to teach him
language, though he lived to the age of seventy. Another was a boy of
twelve, found in the forest of Aveyron, in France, about the beginning
of this century, who was destitute of speech, and all efforts to teach
him failed. Some of these cases are to be considered in connection
with the general law of evolution, that in degeneration the last
and highest acquirements are lost first. When in these the effort
at acquiring or re-acquiring speech has been successful, it has been
through gestures, in the same manner as missionaries, explorers,
and shipwrecked mariners have become acquainted with tongues before
unknown to themselves and sometimes to civilization. All persons in
such circumstances are obliged to proceed by pointing to objects and
making gesticulations, at the same time observing what articulate
sounds were associated with those motions by the persons addressed,
and thus vocabularies and lists of phrases were formed.


Apart from the establishment of a systematic language of signs under
special circumstances which have occasioned its development, the
gestures of the lower tribes of men may be generally classed under the
emotional or instinctive division, which can be correlated with those
of the lower animals. This may be illustrated by the modes adopted to
show friendship in salutation, taking the place of our shaking hands.
Some Pacific Islanders used to show their joy at meeting friends by
sniffing at them, after the style of well-disposed dogs. The Fuegians
pat and slap each other, and some Polynesians stroke their own faces
with the hand or foot of the friend. The practice of rubbing or
pressing noses is very common. It has been noticed in the Lapland
Alps, often in Africa, and in Australia the tips of the noses are
pressed a long time, accompanied with grunts of satisfaction. Patting
and stroking different parts of the body are still more frequent, and
prevailed among the North American Indians, though with the latter
the most common expression was hugging. In general, the civilities
exchanged are similar to those of many animals.


Persons of limited vocabulary, whether foreigners to the tongue
employed or native, but not accomplished in its use, even in the midst
of a civilization where gestures are deprecated, when at fault for
words resort instinctively to physical motions that are not wild nor
meaningless, but picturesque and significant, though perhaps made
by the gesturer for the first time. An uneducated laborer, if
good-natured enough to be really desirous of responding to a request
for information, when he has exhausted his scanty stock of words will
eke them out by original gestures. While fully admitting the advice to

  Action is eloquence, and the eyes of the ignorant
  More learned than the ears--

it may be paraphrased to read that the hands of the ignorant are
more learned than their tongues. A stammerer, too, works his arms and
features as if determined to get his thoughts out, in a manner not
only suggestive of the physical struggle, but of the use of gestures
as a hereditary expedient.


The same is true of the most fluent talkers on occasions when the
exact vocal formula desired does not at once suggest itself, or is
unsatisfactory without assistance from the physical machinery not
embraced in the oral apparatus. The command of a copious vocabulary
common to both speaker and hearer undoubtedly tends to a phlegmatic
delivery and disdain of subsidiary aid. An excited speaker will,
however, generally make a free use of his hands without regard to
any effect of that use upon auditors. Even among the gesture-hating
English, when they are aroused from torpidity of manner, the hands are
involuntarily clapped in approbation, rubbed with delight, wrung in
distress, raised in astonishment, and waved in triumph. The fingers
are snapped for contempt, the forefinger is vibrated to reprove or
threaten, and the fist shaken in defiance. The brow is contracted with
displeasure, and the eyes winked to show connivance. The shoulders
are shrugged to express disbelief or repugnance, the eyebrows
elevated with surprise, the lips bitten in vexation and thrust out in
sullenness or displeasure, while a higher degree of anger is shown
by a stamp of the foot. Quintilian, regarding the subject, however,
not as involuntary exhibition of feeling and intellect, but for
illustration and enforcement, becomes eloquent on the variety of
motions of which the hands alone are capable, as follows:

"The action of the other parts of the body assists the speaker, but
the hands (I could almost say) speak themselves. By them do we
not demand, promise, call, dismiss, threaten, supplicate, express
abhorrence and terror, question and deny? Do we not by them express
joy and sorrow, doubt, confession, repentance, measure, quantity,
number, and time? Do they not also encourage, supplicate, restrain,
convict, admire, respect? and in pointing out places and persons do
they not discharge the office of adverbs and of pronouns?"

Voss adopts almost the words of Quintilian, "_Manus non modo loquentem
adjuvant, sed ipsæ pene loqui videntur_," while Cresollius calls the
hand "the minister of reason and wisdom ... without it there is no


Further evidence of the unconscious survival of gesture language is
afforded by the ready and involuntary response made in signs to signs
when a man with the speech and habits of civilization is brought into
close contact with Indians or deaf-mutes. Without having ever before
seen or made one of their signs, he will soon not only catch the
meaning of theirs, but produce his own, which they will likewise
comprehend, the power seemingly remaining latent in him until called
forth by necessity.


In the earliest part of man's history the subjects of his discourse
must have been almost wholly sensuous, and therefore readily expressed
in pantomime. Not only was pantomime sufficient for all the actual
needs of his existence, but it is not easy to imagine how he could
have used language such as is now known to us. If the best English
dictionary and grammar had been miraculously furnished to him,
together with the art of reading with proper pronunciation, the gift
would have been valueless, because the ideas expressed by the words
had not yet been formed.

That the early concepts were of a direct and material character is
shown by what has been ascertained of the roots of language, and there
does not appear to be much difficulty in expressing by other than
vocal instrumentality all that could have been expressed by those
roots. Even now, with our vastly increased belongings of external
life, avocations, and habits, nearly all that is absolutely necessary
for our physical needs can be expressed in pantomime. Far beyond the
mere signs for eating, drinking, sleeping, and the like, any one will
understand a skillful representation in signs of a tailor, shoemaker,
blacksmith, weaver, sailor, farmer, or doctor. So of washing,
dressing, shaving, walking, driving, writing, reading, churning,
milking, boiling, roasting or frying, making bread or preparing
coffee, shooting, fishing, rowing, sailing, sawing, planing, boring,
and, in short, an endless list.

Max Müller properly calls touch, scent, and taste the palaioteric,
and sight and hearing the neoteric senses, the latter of which
often require to be verified by the former. Touch is the lowest in
specialization and development, and is considered to be the oldest of
the senses, the others indeed being held by some writers to be only
its modifications. Scent, of essential importance to many animals, has
with man almost ceased to be of any, except in connection with taste,
which he has developed to a high degree. Whether or not sight preceded
hearing in order of development, it is difficult, in conjecturing the
first attempts of man or his hypothetical ancestor at the expression
either of percepts or concepts, to connect vocal sounds with any
large number of objects, but it is readily conceivable that the
characteristics of their forms and movements should have been
suggested to the eye--fully exercised before the tongue--so soon
as the arms and fingers became free for the requisite simulation
or portrayal. There is little distinction between pantomime and a
developed sign language, in which thought is transmitted rapidly and
certainly from hand to eye as it is in oral speech from lips to
ear; the former is, however, the parent of the latter, which is more
abbreviated and less obvious. Pantomime acts movements, reproduces
forms and positions, presents pictures, and manifests emotions with
greater realization than any other mode of utterance. It may readily
be supposed that a troglodyte man would desire to communicate the
finding of a cave in the vicinity of a pure pool, circled with soft
grass, and shaded by trees bearing edible fruit. No sound of nature is
connected with any of those objects, but the position and size of the
cave, its distance and direction, the water, its quality, and amount,
the verdant circling carpet, and the kind and height of the trees
could have been made known by pantomime in the days of the mammoth,
if articulate speech had not then been established, as Indians or
deaf-mutes now communicate similar information by the same agency.

The proof of this fact, as regards deaf-mutes, will hardly be
demanded, as their expressive pantomime has been so often witnessed.
That of the North American Indians, as distinct from the signs which
are generally its abbreviations, has been frequently described in
general terms, but it may be interesting to present two instances from
remote localities.

A Maricopa Indian, in the present limits of Arizona, was offered an
advantageous trade for his horse, whereupon he stretched himself on
his horse's neck, caressed it tenderly, at the same time shutting his
eyes, meaning thereby that no offer could tempt him to part with his

An A-tco-mâ-wi or Pit River Indian, in Northeastern California, to
explain the cause of his cheeks and forehead being covered with tar,
represented a man falling, and, despite his efforts to save him,
trembling, growing pale (pointing from his face to that of a white
man), and sinking to sleep, his spirit winging its way to the skies,
which he indicated by imitating with his hands the flight of a bird
upwards, his body sleeping still upon the river bank, to which he
pointed. The tar upon his face was thus shown to be his dress of
mourning for a friend who had fallen and died.

Several descriptions of pure pantomime, intermixed with the more
conventionalized signs, will be found in the present paper. In
especial, reference is made to the Address of Kin Chē-ĕss,
Nátci's Narrative, the Dialogue between Alaskan Indians, and
Na-wa-gi-jig's Story.


Cresollius, writing in 1620, was strongly in favor of giving
precedence to gesture. He says, "Man, full of wisdom and divinity,
could have appeared nothing superior to a naked trunk or block had he
not been adorned with the hand as the interpreter and messenger of
his thoughts." He quotes with approval the brother of St. Basil in
declaring that had men been formed without hands they would never have
been endowed with an articulate voice, and concludes: "Since, then,
nature has furnished us with two instruments for the purpose of
bringing into light and expressing the silent affections of the
mind, language and the hand, it has been the opinion of learned and
intelligent men that the former would be maimed and nearly useless
without the latter; whereas the hand, without the aid of language, has
produced many and wonderful effects."

Rabelais, who incorporated into his satirical work much true learning
and philosophy, makes his hero announce the following opinion:

"Nothing less, quoth Pantagruel [Book iii, ch. xix], do I believe than
that it is a mere abusing of our understandings to give credit to
the words of those who say that there is any such thing as a natural
language. All speeches have had their primary origin from the
arbitrary institutions, accords, and agreements of nations in their
respective condescendments to what should be noted and betokened
by them. An articulate voice, according to the dialecticians, hath
naturally no signification at all; for that the sense and meaning
thereof did totally depend upon the good will and pleasure of the
first deviser and imposer of it."

Max Müller, following Professor Heyse, of Berlin, published an
ingenious theory of primitive speech, to the effect that man had a
creative faculty giving to each conception, as it thrilled through his
brain for the first time, a special phonetic expression, which faculty
became extinct when its necessity ceased. This theory, which makes
each radical of language to be a phonetic type rung out from the
organism of the first man or men when struck by an idea, has been
happily named the "ding-dong" theory. It has been abandoned mainly
through the destructive criticisms of Prof. W.D. WHITNEY, of Yale
College. One lucid explanation by the latter should be specially
noted: "A word is a combination of sounds which by a series of
historical reasons has come to be accepted and understood in a certain
community as the sign of a certain idea. As long as they so accept
and understand it, it has existence; when everyone ceases to use and
understand it, it ceases to exist."

Several authors, among them Kaltschmidt, contend that there was
but one primitive language, which was purely onomatopoeic, that
is, imitative of natural sounds. This has been stigmatized as the
"bow-wow" theory, but its advocates might derive an argument from the
epithet itself, as not only our children, but the natives of Papua,
call the dog a "bow-wow." They have, however, gone too far in
attempting to trace back words in their shape as now existing to any
natural sounds instead of confining that work to the roots from which
the words have sprung.

Another attempt has been made, represented by Professor Noiré, to
account for language by means of interjectional cries. This Max Müller
revengefully styled the "pooh-pooh" theory. In it is included the
rhythmical sounds which a body of men make seemingly by a common
impulse when engaged in a common work, such as the cries of sailors
when hauling on a rope or pulling an oar, or the yell of savages in an
attack. It also derives an argument from the impulse of life by which
the child shouts and the bird sings. There are, however, very few
either words or roots of words which can be proved to have that

Professor SAYCE, in his late work, _Introduction to the Science of
Language, London_, 1880, gives the origin of language in gestures,
in onomatopoeia, and to a limited extent in interjectional cries.
He concludes it to be the ordinary theory of modern comparative
philologists that all languages are traced back to a certain number
of abstract roots, each of which was a sort of sentence in embryo,
and while he does not admit this as usually presented, he believes
that there was a time in the history of speech, when the articulate
or semi-articulate sounds uttered by primitive men were made the
significant representations of thought by the gestures with which
they were accompanied. This statement is specially gratifying to the
present writer as he had advanced much the same views in his first
publication on the subject in the following paragraph, now reproduced
with greater confidence:

"From their own failures and discordancies, linguistic scholars have
recently decided that both the 'bow-wow' and the 'ding-dong' theories
are unsatisfactory; that the search for imitative, onomatopoeic, and
directly expressive sounds to explain the origin of human speech has
been too exclusive, and that many primordial roots of language have
been founded in the involuntary sounds accompanying certain actions.
As, however, the action was the essential, and the consequent
or concomitant sound the accident, it would be expected that a
representation or feigned reproduction of the action would have been
used to express the idea before the sound associated with that
action could have been separated from it. The visual onomatopoeia of
gestures, which even yet have been subjected to but slight artificial
corruption, would therefore serve as a key to the audible. It is also
contended that in the pristine days, when the sounds of the only words
yet formed had close connection with objects and the ideas directly
derived from them, signs were as much more copious for communication
than speech, as the sight embraces more and more distinct
characteristics of objects than does the sense of hearing."


The preponderance of authority is in favor of the view that man, when
in the possession of all his faculties, did not choose between voice
and gesture, both being originally instinctive, as they both are now,
and never, with those faculties, was in a state where the one was used
to the absolute exclusion of the other. The long neglected work of
Dalgarno, published in 1661, is now admitted to show wisdom when he
says: "_non minus naturale fit homini communicare in_ Figuris _quam_
Sonis: _quorum utrumque dico homini_ naturale." With the voice man
at first imitated the few sounds of nature, while with gesture he
exhibited actions, motions, positions, forms, dimensions, directions,
and distances, and their derivatives. It would appear from this
unequal division of capacity that oral speech remained rudimentary
long after gesture had become an art. With the concession of all
purely imitative sounds and of the spontaneous action of the vocal
organs under excitement, it is still true that the connection between
ideas and words generally depended upon a compact between the
speaker and hearer which presupposes the existence of a prior mode of
communication. That was probably by gesture, which, in the apposite
phrase of Professor SAYCE, "like the rope-bridges of the Himalayas or
the Andes, formed the first rude means of communication between man
and man." At the very least it may be gladly accepted provisionally as
a clue leading out of the labyrinth of philologic confusion.

For the purpose of the present paper there is, however, no need of an
absolute decision upon the priority between communication of ideas by
bodily motion and by vocal articulation. It is enough to admit that
the connection between them was so early and intimate that gestures,
in the wide sense indicated of presenting ideas under physical forms,
had a direct formative effect upon many words; that they exhibit the
earliest condition of the human mind; are traced from the remotest
antiquity among all peoples possessing records; are generally
prevalent in the savage stage of social evolution; survive agreeably
in the scenic pantomime, and still adhere to the ordinary speech of
civilized man by motions of the face, hands, head, and body, often
involuntary, often purposely in illustration or for emphasis.

It may be unnecessary to explain that none of the signs to be
described, even those of present world-wide prevalence, are presented
as precisely those of primitive man. Signs as well as words, animals,
and plants have had their growth, development, and change, their
births and deaths, and their struggle for existence with survival of
the fittest. It is, however, thought probable from reasons hereinafter
mentioned that their radicals can be ascertained with more precision
than those of words.


There is ample evidence of record, besides that derived from other
sources, that the systematic use of gesture speech was of great
antiquity. Livy so declares, and Quintilian specifies that the "_lex
gestus ... ab illis temporibus heroicis orta est_." Plato classed its
practice among civil virtues, and Chrysippus gave it place among the
proper education of freemen. Athenæus tells that gestures were even
reduced to distinct classification with appropriate terminology. The
class suited to comedy was called Cordax, that to tragedy Eumelia, and
that for satire Sicinnis, from the inventor Sicinnus. Bathyllus from
these formed a fourth class, adapted to pantomime. This system appears
to have been particularly applicable to theatrical performances.
Quintilian, later, gave most elaborate rules for gestures in oratory,
which are specially noticeable from the importance attached to the
manner of disposing the fingers. He attributed to each particular
disposition a significance or suitableness which are not now obvious.
Some of them are retained by modern orators, but without the same, or
indeed any, intentional meaning, and others are wholly disused.

[Illustration: Fig. 61.]

The value of these digital arrangements is, however, shown by their
use among the modern Italians, to whom they have directly descended.
From many illustrations of this fact the following is selected. Fig.
61 is copied from Austin's _Chironomia_ as his graphic execution of
the gesture described by Quintilian: "The fore finger of the right
hand joining the middle of its nail to the extremity of its own thumb,
and moderately extending the rest of the fingers, is graceful in
_approving_." Fig. 62 is taken from De Jorio's plates and descriptions
of the gestures among modern Neapolitans, with the same idea of
approbation--"good." Both of these may be compared with Fig. 63, a
common sign among the North American Indians to express affirmation
and approbation. With the knowledge of these details it is possible to
believe the story of Macrobius that Cicero used to vie with Roscius,
the celebrated actor, as to which of them could express a sentiment
in the greater variety of ways, the one by gesture and the other by
speech, with the apparent result of victory to the actor who was so
satisfied with the superiority of his art that he wrote a book on the

[Illustration: Fig. 62.]

Gestures were treated of with still more distinction as connected
with pantomimic dances and representations. Æschylus appears to
have brought theatrical gesture to a high degree of perfection, but
Telestes, a dancer employed by him, introduced the dumb show, a dance
without marked dancing steps, and subordinated to motions of the
hands, arms, and body, which is dramatic pantomime. He was so great
an artist, says Athenæus, that when he represented the _Seven before
Thebes_ he rendered every circumstance manifest by his gestures alone.
From Greece, or rather from Egypt, the art was brought to Rome, and
in the reign of Augustus was the great delight of that Emperor and his
friend Mæcenas. Bathyllus, of Alexandria, was the first to introduce
it to the Roman public, but he had a dangerous rival in Pylades. The
latter was magnificent, pathetic, and affecting, while Bathyllus
was gay and sportive. All Rome was split into factions about their
respective merits. Athenæus speaks of a distinguished performer of his
own time (he died A.D. 194) named Memphis, whom he calls the "dancing
philosopher," because he showed what the Pythagorean philosophy could
do by exhibiting in silence everything with stronger evidence than
they could who professed to teach the arts of language. In the
reign of Nero, a celebrated pantomimist who had heard that the cynic
philosopher Demetrius spoke of the art with contempt, prevailed upon
him to witness his performance, with the result that the cynic, more
and more astonished, at last cried out aloud, "Man, I not only see,
but I hear what you do, for to me you appear to speak with your

[Illustration: Fig. 63.]

Lucian, who narrates this in his work _De Saltatione_, gives another
tribute to the talent of, perhaps, the same performer. A barbarian
prince of Pontus (the story is told elsewhere of Tyridates, King of
Armenia), having come to Rome to do homage to the Emperor Nero, and
been taken to see the pantomimes, was asked on his departure by
the Emperor what present he would have as a mark of his favor. The
barbarian begged that he might have the principal pantomimist, and
upon being asked why he made such an odd request, replied that he had
many neighbors who spoke such various and discordant languages that he
found it difficult to obtain any interpreter who could understand
them or explain his commands; but if he had the dancer he could by his
assistance easily make himself intelligible to all.

While the general effect of these pantomimes is often mentioned, there
remain but few detailed descriptions of them. Apuleius, however,
in the tenth book of his _Metamorphosis_ or "Golden Ass," gives
sufficient details of the performance of the Judgment of Paris to
show that it strongly resembled the best form of ballet opera known
in modern times. These exhibitions were so greatly in favor that,
according to Ammianus Marcellinus, there were in Rome in the year 190
six thousand persons devoted to the art, and that when a famine raged
they were all kept in the city, though besides all the strangers all
the philosophers were forced to leave. Their popularity continued
until the sixth century, and it is evident from a decree of
Charlemagne that they were not lost, or at least, had been revived in
his time. Those of us who have enjoyed the performance of the original
Ravel troupe will admit that the art still survives, though not with
the magnificence or perfection, especially with reference to serious
subjects, which it exhibited in the age of imperial Rome.

Early and prominent among the post-classic works upon gesture is that
of the venerable Bede (who flourished A.D. 672-735) _De Loquelâ per
Gestum Digitorum, sive de Indigitatione_. So much discussion had
indeed been carried on in reference to the use of signs for the
desideratum of a universal mode of communication, which also was
designed to be occult and mystic, that Rabelais, in the beginning of
the sixteenth century, who, however satirical, never spent his force
upon matters of little importance, devotes much attention to it. He
makes his English philosopher, Thaumast "The Wonderful" declare, "I
will dispute by signs only, without speaking, for the matters are so
abstruse, hard, and arduous, that words proceeding from the mouth of
man will never be sufficient for unfolding of them to my liking."

The earliest contributions of practical value connected with the
subject were made by George Dalgarno, of Aberdeen, in two works, one
published in London, 1661, entitled _Ars Signorum, vulgo character
universalis et lingua philosophica_, and the other printed at Oxford,
1680, entitled, _Didascalocophus, or the Deaf and Dumb Man's
Tutor_. He spent his life in obscurity, and his works, though he was
incidentally mentioned by Leibnitz under the name of "M. Dalgarus,"
passed into oblivion. Yet he undoubtedly was the precursor of Bishop
Wilkins in his _Essay toward a Real Character and a Philosophical
Language_, published in London, 1668, though indeed the first idea was
far older, it having been, as reported by Piso, the wish of Galen that
some way might be found out to represent things by such peculiar signs
and names as should express their natures. Dalgarno's ideas respecting
the education of the dumb were also of the highest value, and though
they were too refined and enlightened to be appreciated at the period
when he wrote, they probably were used by Dr. Wallis if not by Sicard.
Some of his thoughts should be quoted: "As I think the eye to be as
docile as the ear; so neither see I any reason but the hand might be
made as tractable an organ as the tongue; and as soon brought to form,
if not fair, at least legible characters, as the tongue to imitate
and echo back articulate sounds." A paragraph prophetic of the late
success in educating blind deaf-mutes is as follows: "The soul can
exert her powers by the ministry of any of the senses: and, therefore,
when she is deprived of her principal secretaries, the eye and the
ear, then she must be contented with the service of her lackeys and
scullions, the other senses; which are no less true and faithful
to their mistress than the eye and the ear; but not so quick for

In his division of the modes of "expressing the inward emotions by
outward and sensible signs" he relegates to physiology cases "when
the internal passions are expressed by such external signs as have a
natural connection, by way of cause and effect, with the passion
they discover, as laughing, weeping, frowning, &c., and this way of
interpretation being common to the brute with man belongs to natural
philosophy. And because this goes not far enough to serve the rational
soul, therefore, man has invented Sematology." This he divides into
Pneumatology, interpretation by sounds conveyed through the ear;
Schematology, by figures to the eye, and Haptology, by mutual
contact, skin to skin. Schematology is itself divided into Typology or
Grammatology, and Cheirology or Dactylology. The latter embraces
"the transient motions of the fingers, which of all other ways of
interpretation comes nearest to that of the tongue."

As a phase in the practice of gestures in lieu of speech must be
mentioned the code of the Cistercian monks, who were vowed to silence
except in religious exercises. That they might literally observe their
vows they were obliged to invent a system of communication by signs, a
list of which is given by Leibnitz, but does not show much ingenuity.

A curious description of the speech of the early inhabitants of
the world, given by Swedenborg in his _Arcana Coelestia_, published
1749-1756, may be compared with the present exhibitions of deaf-mutes
in institutions for their instruction. He says it was not articulate
like the vocal speech of our time, but was tacit, being produced not
by external respiration, but by internal. They were able to express
their meaning by slight motions of the lips and corresponding changes
of the face.

[Illustration: Fig. 64.--Group from an ancient Greek vase.]

Austin's comprehensive work, _Chironomia, or a Treatise on Rhetorical
Delivery, London_, 1806, is a repertory of information for all writers
on gesture, who have not always given credit to it, as well as on all
branches of oratory. This has been freely used by the present writer,
as has also the volume by the canon Andrea de Jorio, _La Mimica degli
Antichi investigata nel Gestire Napoletano, Napoli_, 1832. The canon's
chief object was to interpret the gestures of the ancients as shown
in their works of art and described in their writings, by the modern
gesticulations of the Neapolitans, and he has proved that the general
system of gesture once prevailing in ancient Italy is substantially
the same as now observed. With an understanding of the existing
language of gesture the scenes on the most ancient Greek vases
and reliefs obtain a new and interesting significance and form a
connecting link between the present and prehistoric times. Two of
De Jorio's plates are here reproduced, Figs. 64 and 67, with such
explanation and further illustration as is required for the present

The spirited figures upon the ancient vase, Fig. 64, are red upon a
black ground and are described in the published account in French of
the collection of Sir John Coghill, Bart., of which the following is a
free translation:

Dionysos or Bacchus is represented with a strong beard, his head girt
with the credemnon, clothed in a long folded tunic, above which is an
ample cloak, and holding a thyrsus. Under the form of a satyr, Comus,
or the genius of the table, plays on the double flute and tries to
excite to the dance two nymphs, the companions of Bacchus--Galené,
Tranquility, and Eudia, Serenity. The first of them is dressed in
a tunic, above which is a fawn skin, holding a tympanum or classic
drum on which she is about to strike, while her companion marks the
time by a snapping of the fingers, which custom the author of the
catalogue wisely states is still kept up in Italy in the dance of the
tarantella. The composition is said to express allegorically that pure
and serene pleasures are benefits derived from the god of wine.

[Illustration: Fig. 65.]

[Illustration: Fig. 66.]

This is a fair example of the critical acumen of art-commentators.
The gestures of the two nymphs are interesting, but on very slight
examination it appears that those of Galené have nothing to do with
beat of drum, nor have those of Eudia any connection with music,
though it is not so clear what is the true subject under discussion.
Aided, however, by the light of the modern sign language of Naples,
there seems to be by no means serenity prevailing, but a quarrel
between the ladies, on a special subject which is not necessarily
pure. The nymph at the reader's left fixes her eyes upon her companion
with her index in the same direction, clearly indicating, _thou._ That
the address is reproachful is shown from her countenance, but with
greater certainty from her attitude and the corresponding one of her
companion, who raises both her hands in surprise accompanied with
negation. The latter is expressed by the right hand raised toward
the shoulder, with the palm opposed to the person to whom response is
made. This is the rejection of the idea presented, and is expressed by
some of our Indians, as shown in Fig. 65. A sign of the Dakota tribe
of Indians with the same signification is given in Fig. 270, page 441,
_infra_. At the same time the upper part of the nymph's body is drawn
backward as far as the preservation of equilibrium permits. So a
reproach or accusation is made on the one part, and denied, whether
truthfully or not, on the other. Its subject also may be ascertained.
The left hand of Eudia is not mute; it is held towards her rival with
the balls of the index and thumb united, the modern Neapolitan sign
for _love_, which is drawn more clearly in Fig. 66. It is called the
kissing of the thumb and finger, and there is ample authority to show
that among the ancient classics it was a sign of marriage. St. Jerome,
quoted by Vincenzo Requena, says: "_Nam et ipsa digitorum conjunctio,
et quasi molli osculo se complectans et foederans, maritum pingit et
conjugem_;" and Apuleius clearly alludes to the same gesture as used
in the adoration of Venus, by the words "_primore digito in erectum
pollicem residente_." The gesture is one of the few out of the
large number described in various parts of Rabelais' great work, the
significance of which is explained. It is made by Naz-de-cabre or
Goat's Nose (_Pantagruel_, Book III, Ch. XX), who lifted up into the
air his left hand, the whole fingers whereof he retained fistways
closed together, except the thumb and the forefinger, whose nails
he softly joined and coupled to one another. "I understand, quoth
Pantagruel, what he meaneth by that sign. It denotes marriage." The
quarrel is thus established to be about love; and the fluting satyr
seated between the two nymphs, behind whose back the accusation is
furtively made by the jealous one, may well be the object concerning
whom jealousy is manifested. Eudia therefore, instead of "serenely"
marking time for a "tranquil" tympanist, appears to be crying,
"Galené! you bad thing! you are having, or trying to have, an affair
with my Comus!"--an accusation which this writer verily believes to
have been just. The lady's attitude in affectation of surprised denial
is not that of injured innocence.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Fig. 67.--Group from a vase in the Homeric Gallery.]

[Illustration: Fig. 68.]

[Illustration: Fig. 69.]

Fig. 67, taken from a vase in the Homeric Gallery, is rich in natural
gestures. Without them, from the costumes and attitudes it is easy
to recognize the protagonist or principal actor in the group, and its
general subject. The warrior goddess Athené stands forth in the midst
of what appears to be a council of war. After the study of modern
gesture speech, the votes of each member of the council, with the
degree of positiveness or interest felt by each, can be ascertained.
Athené in animated motion turns her eyes to the right, and extends
her left arm and hand to the left, with her right hand brandishing a
lance in the same direction, in which her feet show her to be ready to
spring. She is urging the figures on her right to follow her at once
to attempt some dangerous enterprise. Of these the elderly man, who is
calmly seated, holds his right hand flat and reversed, and suspended
slightly above his knee. This probably is the ending of the modern
Neapolitan gesture, Fig. 68, which signifies hesitation, advice to
pause before hasty action, "go slowly," and commences higher with a
gentle wavering movement downward. This can be compared with the sign
of some of our Indians, Fig. 69, for _wait! slowly!_ The female figure
at the left of the group, standing firmly and decidedly, raises her
left hand directed to the goddess with the palm vertical. If this
is supposed to be a stationary gesture it means, "_wait! stop!_" It
may, however, be the commencement of the last mentioned gesture, "_go

[Illustration: Fig. 70.]

Both of these members of the council advise delay and express doubt of
the propriety of immediate action.

[Illustration: Fig. 71.]

The sitting warrior on the left of Athené presents his left hand flat
and carried well up. This position, supposed to be stationary, now
means to _ask, inquire_, and it may be that he inquires of the other
veteran what reasons he can produce for his temporizing policy. This
may be collated with the modern Neapolitan sign for _ask_, Fig. 70,
and the common Indian sign for "_tell me!_" Fig. 71. In connection
with this it is also interesting to compare the Australian sign for
interrogation, Fig. 72, and also the Comanche Indian sign for _give
me_, Fig. 301, page 480, _infra_. If, however, the artist had the
intention to represent the flat hand as in motion from below upward,
as is probable from the connection, the meaning is _much, greatly_.
He strongly disapproves the counsel of the opposite side. Our Indians
often express the idea of quantity, _much_, with the same conception
of comparative height, by an upward motion of the extended palm, but
with them the palm is held downward. The last figure to the right,
by the action of his whole body, shows his rejection of the proposed
delay, and his right hand gives the modern sign of combined surprise
and reproof.

[Illustration: Fig. 72.]

It is interesting to note the similarity of the merely emotional
gestures and attitudes of modern Italy with those of the classics. The
Pulcinella, Fig. 73, for instance, drawn from life in the streets of
Naples, has the same pliancy and _abandon_ of the limbs as appears in
the supposed foolish slaves of the Vatican Terence.

[Illustration: Fig. 73.]

In close connection with this branch of the study reference must be
made to the gestures exhibited in the works of Italian art only modern
in comparison with the high antiquity of their predecessors. A good
instance is in the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci, painted toward
the close of the fifteenth century, and to the figure of Judas
as there portrayed. The gospel denounces him as a thief, which is
expressed in the painting by the hand extended and slightly curved;
imitative of the pilferer's act in clutching and drawing toward
him furtively the stolen object, and is the same gesture that now
indicates _theft_ in Naples, Fig. 74, and among some of the North
American Indians, Fig. 75. The pictorial propriety of the sign is
preserved by the apparent desire of the traitor to obtain the one
white loaf of bread on the table (the remainder being of coarser
quality) which lies near where his hand is tending. Raffaelle was
equally particular in his exhibition of gesture language, even
unto the minutest detail of the arrangement of the fingers. It is
traditional that he sketched the Madonna's hands for the Spasimo di
Sicilia in eleven different positions before he was satisfied.

[Illustration: Fig. 74.]

No allusion to the bibliography of gesture speech, however slight,
should close without including the works of Mgr. D. De Haerne,
who has, as a member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, in
addition to his rank in the Roman Catholic Church, been active in
promoting the cause of education in general, and especially that of
the deaf and dumb. His admirable treatise _The Natural Language of
Signs_ has been translated and is accessible to American readers in
the _American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb_, 1875. In that valuable
serial, conducted by Prof. E.A. FAY, of the National Deaf Mute College
at Washington, and now in its twenty-sixth volume, a large amount of
the current literature on the subject indicated by its title can be

[Illustration: Fig. 75.]


Dr. TYLOR says (_Early History of Mankind_, 44): "We cannot lay down
as a rule that gesticulation decreases as civilization advances, and
say, for instance, that a Southern Frenchman, because his talk is
illustrated with gestures as a book with pictures, is less civilized
than a German or Englishman." This is true, and yet it is almost
impossible for persons not accustomed to gestures to observe them
without associating the idea of low culture. Thus in Mr. Darwin's
summing up of those characteristics of the natives of Tierra
del Fuego, which rendered it difficult to believe them to be
fellow-creatures, he classes their "violent gestures" with their
filthy and greasy skins, discordant voices, and hideous faces bedaubed
with paint. This description is quoted by the Duke of Argyle in his
_Unity of Nature_ in approval of those characteristics as evidence, of
the lowest condition of humanity.

Whether or not the power of the visible gesture relative to, and
its influence upon the words of modern oral speech are in inverse
proportion to the general culture, it seems established that they do
not bear that or any constant proportion to the development of the
several languages with which gesture is still more or less associated.
The statement has frequently been made that gesture is yet to some
highly-advanced languages a necessary modifying factor, and that
only when a language has become so artificial as to be completely
expressible in written signs--indeed, has been remodeled through their
long familiar use--can the bodily signs be wholly dispensed with. The
evidence for this statement is now doubted, and it is safer to
affirm that a common use of gesture depends more upon the sociologic
conditions of the speakers than upon the degree of copiousness of
their oral speech.


The nearest approach to a general rule which it is now proposed to
hazard is that where people speaking precisely the same dialect are
not numerous, and are thrown into constant contact on equal terms with
others of differing dialects and languages, gesture is necessarily
resorted to for converse with the latter, and remains for an
indefinite time as a habit or accomplishment among themselves,
while large bodies enjoying common speech, and either isolated from
foreigners, or, when in contact with them, so dominant as to compel
the learning and adoption of their own tongue, become impassive in its
delivery. The ungesturing English, long insular, and now rulers
when spread over continents, may be compared with the profusely
gesticulating Italians dwelling in a maze of dialects and subject for
centuries either to foreign rule or to the influx of strangers on whom
they depended. So common is the use of gestures in Italy, especially
among the lower and uneducated classes, that utterance without them
seems to be nearly impossible. The driver or boatman will often,
on being addressed, involuntarily drop the reins or oars, at the
risk of a serious accident, to respond with his arms and fingers
in accompaniment of his tongue. Nor is the habit confined to the
uneducated. King Ferdinand returning to Naples after the revolt of
1821, and finding that the boisterous multitude would not allow his
voice to be heard, resorted successfully to a royal address in signs,
giving reproaches, threats, admonitions, pardon, and dismissal, to
the entire satisfaction of the assembled lazzaroni. The medium, though
probably not the precise manner of its employment, recalls Lucan's
account of the quieting of an older tumult--

  Composuit vultu, dextraque silentia fecit.

This rivalry of Punch would, in London, have occasioned measureless
ridicule and disgust. The difference in what is vaguely styled
temperament does not wholly explain the contrast between the two
peoples, for the performance was creditable both to the readiness of
the King in an emergency and to the aptness of his people, the main
distinction being that in Italy there was in 1821, and still is, a
recognized and cultivated language of signs long disused in Great
Britain. In seeking to account for this it will be remembered that the
Italians have a more direct descent from the people who, as has been
above shown, in classic times so long and lovingly cultivated gesture
as a system. They have also had more generally before their eyes the
artistic relics in which gestures have been preserved.

It is a curious fact that some English writers, notably Addison
(_Spectator_, 407), have contended that it does not suit the genius
of that nation to use gestures even in public speaking, against which
doctrine Austin vigorously remonstrates. He says: "There may possibly
be nations whose livelier feelings incline them more to gesticulation
than is common among us, as there are also countries in which plants
of excellent use to man grow spontaneously; these, by care and
culture, are found to thrive also in colder countries."

It is in general to be remarked that as the number of dialects in any
district decreases so will the gestures, though doubtless there is
also weight in the fact not merely that a language has been reduced to
and modified by writing, but that people who are accustomed generally
to read and write, as are the English and Germans, will after a time
think and talk as they write, and without the accompaniments still
persistent among Hindus, Arabs, and the less literate of European

The fact that in the comparatively small island of Sicily gesture
language has been maintained until the present time in a perfection
not observed elsewhere in Europe must be considered in connection with
the above remark on England's insularity, and it must also be admitted
that several languages have prevailed in the latter, still leaving
dialects. This apparent similarity of conditions renders the contrast
as regards use of gestures more remarkable, yet there are some reasons
for their persistence in Sicily which apply with greater force than
to Great Britain. The explanation, through mere tradition, is that the
common usage of signs dates from the time of Dionysius, the tyrant of
Syracuse, who prohibited meetings and conversation among his subjects,
under the direst penalties, so that they adopted that expedient to
hold communication. It would be more useful to consider the peculiar
history of the island. The Sicanians being its aborigines it was
colonized by Greeks, who, as the Romans asserted, were still more apt
at gesture than themselves. This colonization was also by separate
bands of adventurers from several different states of Greece, so that
they started with dialects and did not unite in a common or national
organization, the separate cities and their territories being governed
by oligarchies or tyrants frequently at war with each other, until,
in the fifth century B.C., the Carthaginians began to contribute a new
admixture of language and blood, followed by Roman, Vandal, Gothic,
Herulian, Arab, and Norman subjugation. Thus some of the conditions
above suggested have existed in this case, but, whatever the
explanation, the accounts given by travelers of the extent to which
the language of signs has been used even during the present generation
are so marvelous as to deserve quotation. The one selected is from
the pen of Alexandre Dumas, who, it is to be hoped, did not carry his
genius for romance into a professedly sober account of travel:

"In the intervals of the acts of the opera I saw lively conversations
carried on between the orchestra and the boxes. Arami, in particular,
recognized a friend whom he had not seen for three years, and who
related to him, by means of his eyes and his hands, what, to judge by
the eager gestures of my companion, must have been matters of great
interest. The conversation ended, I asked him if I might know without
impropriety what was the intelligence which had seemed to interest
him so deeply. 'O, yes,' he replied, 'that person is one of my good
friends, who has been away from Palermo for three years, and he has
been telling me that he was married at Naples; then traveled with
his wife in Austria and in France; there his wife gave birth to a
daughter, whom he had the misfortune to lose; he arrived by steamboat
yesterday, but his wife had suffered so much from sea-sickness that
she kept her bed, and he came alone to the play.' 'My dear friend,'
said I to Arami, 'if you would have me believe you, you must grant
me a favor.' 'What is it?' said he. 'It is, that you do not leave me
during the evening, so that I may be sure you give no instructions to
your friend, and when we join him, that you ask him to repeat aloud
what he said to you by signs.' 'That I will,' said Arami. The curtain
then rose; the second act of Norma was played; the curtain falling,
and the actors being recalled, as usual, we went to the side-room,
where we met the traveler. 'My dear friend,' said Arami, 'I did not
perfectly comprehend what you wanted to tell me; be so good as to
repeat it.' The traveler repeated the story word for word, and without
varying a syllable from the translation, which Arami had made of his
signs; it was marvelous indeed.

"Six weeks after this, I saw a second example of this faculty of mute
communication. This was at Naples. I was walking with a young man
of Syracuse. We passed by a sentinel. The soldier and my companion
exchanged two or three grimaces, which at another time I should not
even have noticed, but the instances I had before seen led me to give
attention. 'Poor fellow,' sighed my companion. 'What did he say to
you?' I asked. 'Well,' said he, 'I thought that I recognized him as
a Sicilian, and I learned from him, as we passed, from what place he
came; he said he was from Syracuse, and that he knew me well. Then
I asked him how he liked the Neapolitan service; he said he did not
like it at all, and if his officers did not treat him better he should
certainly finish by deserting. I then signified to him that if he ever
should be reduced to that extremity, he might rely upon me, and that
I would aid him all in my power. The poor fellow thanked me with all
his heart, and I have no doubt that one day or other I shall see him
come.' Three days after, I was at the quarters of my Syracusan friend,
when he was told that a man asked to see him who would not give his
name; he went out and left me nearly ten minutes. 'Well,' said he,
on returning, 'just as I said.' 'What?' said I. 'That the poor fellow
would desert.'"

After this there is an excuse for believing the tradition that the
revolt called "the Sicilian Vespers," in 1282, was arranged throughout
the island without the use of a syllable, and even the day and hour
for the massacre of the obnoxious foreigners fixed upon by signs only.
Indeed, the popular story goes so far as to assert that all this was
done by facial expression, without even manual signs.


It is fortunately possible to produce some illustrations of the modern
Neapolitan sign language traced from the plates of De Jorio, with
translations, somewhat condensed, of his descriptions and remarks.

[Illustration: Fig. 76.--Neapolitan public letter-writer and clients.]

[Illustration: Fig. 77.]

In Fig. 76 an ambulant secretary or public writer is seated at his
little table, on which are the meager tools of his trade. He wears
spectacles in token that he has read and written much, and has one
seat at his side to accommodate his customers. On this is seated a
married woman who asks him to write a letter to her absent husband.
The secretary, not being told what to write about, without surprise,
but somewhat amused, raises his left hand with the ends of the thumb
and finger joined, the other fingers naturally open, a common sign for
_inquiry_. "What shall the letter be about?" The wife, not being ready
of speech, to rid herself of the embarrassment, resorts to the mimic
art, and, without opening her mouth, tells with simple gestures all
that is in her mind. Bringing her right hand to her heart, with a
corresponding glance of the eyes she shows that the theme is to be
_love_. For emphasis also she curves the whole upper part of her body
towards him, to exhibit the intensity of her passion. To complete the
mimic story, she makes with her left hand the sign of _asking_ for
something, which has been above described (see page 291). The letter,
then, is to assure her husband of her love and to beg him to return it
with corresponding affection. The other woman, perhaps her sister, who
has understood the whole direction, regards the request as silly and
fruitless and is much disgusted. Being on her feet, she takes a step
toward the wife, who she thinks is unadvised, and raises her left hand
with a sign of disapprobation. This position of the hand is described
in full as open, raised high, and oscillated from right to left.
Several of the Indian signs have the same idea of oscillation of
the hand raised, often near the head, to express _folly, fool_. She
clearly says, "What a thing to ask! what a fool you are!" and at the
same time makes with the right hand the sign of _money_. This is made
by the extremities of the thumb and index rapidly rubbed against each
other, and is shown more clearly in Fig. 77. It is taken from the
handling and counting of coin. This may be compared with an Indian
sign, see Fig. 115, page 344.

So the sister is clearly disapproving with her left hand and with her
right giving good counsel, as if to say, in the combination, "What a
fool you are to ask for his love; you had better ask him to send you
some money."

       *       *       *       *       *

[Illustration: Fig. 78.--Neapolitan hot-corn vender.]

[Illustration: Fig. 79.]

[Illustration: Fig. 80.]

In Naples, as in American cities, boiled ears of green corn are vended
with much outcry. Fig. 78 shows a boy who is attracted by the local
cry "_Pollanchelle tenerelle!_" and seeing the sweet golden ears still
boiling in the kettle from which steams forth fragrance, has an ardent
desire to taste the same, but is without a _soldo_. He tries begging.
His right open hand is advanced toward the desired object with the
sign of _asking_ or _begging_, and he also raises his left forefinger
to indicate the number one--"Pretty girl, please only give me one!"
The pretty girl is by no means cajoled, and while her left hand holds
the ladle ready to use if he dares to touch her merchandise, she
replies by gesture "_Te voglio dà no cuorno!_" freely translated,
"I'll give you one _in a horn!_" This gesture is drawn, with clearer
outline in Fig. 79, and has many significations, according to the
subject-matter and context, and also as applied to different parts of
the body. Applied to the head it has allusion, descending from high
antiquity, to a marital misfortune which was probably common in
prehistoric times as well as the present. It is also often used as an
amulet against the _jettatura_ or evil eye, and misfortune in general,
and directed toward another person is a prayerful wish for his or her
preservation from evil. This use is ancient, as is shown on medals
and statues, and is supposed by some to refer to the horns of animals
slaughtered in sacrifice. The position of the fingers, Fig. 80, is
also given as one of Quintilian's oratorical gestures by the words
"_Duo quoque medii sub pollicem veniunt_," and is said by him to be
vehement and connected with reproach or argument. In the present case,
as a response to an impertinent or disagreeable petition, it simply
means, "instead of giving what you ask, I will give you nothing but
what is vile and useless, as horns are."

       *       *       *       *       *

Fig. 81 tells a story which is substantially the foundation of the
slender plot of most modern scenic pantomimes preliminary to the
bursting forth from their chrysalides of Harlequin, Columbine,
Pantaloon, and company. A young girl, with the consent of her parents,
has for some time promised her hand to an honest youth. The old
mother, in despite of her word, has taken a caprice to give her
daughter to another suitor. The father, though much under the sway of
his spouse, is in his heart desirous to keep his engagement, and has
called in the notary to draw the contract. At this moment the scene
begins, the actors of which, for greater perspicuity and brevity, may
be provided with stage names as follows:

  Cecca, diminutive for Francisca, the mother of--
  Nanella, diminutive of Antoniella, the betrothed of--
  Peppino, diminutive of Peppe, which is diminutive of Giuseppe.
  Pasquale, husband of Cecca and father of Nanella.
  Tonno, diminutive of Antonio, favored by Cecca.
  D. Alfonso, notary.

[Illustration: Fig. 81.--Disturbance at signing of Neapolitan marriage

[Illustration: Fig. 82.]

Cecca tries to pick a quarrel with Peppino, and declares that
the contract shall not be signed. He reminds her of her promise,
and accuses her of breach of faith. In her passion she calls
on her daughter to repudiate her lover, and casting her arms
around her, commands her to make the sign of breaking off
friendship--"_scocchiare_"--which, she has herself made to Peppino,
and which consists in extending the hand with the joined ends of
finger and thumb before described, see Fig. 66, and then separating
them, thus breaking the union. This the latter reluctantly pretends
to do with one hand, yet with the other, which is concealed from her
irate mother's sight, shows her constancy by continuing with emphatic
pressure the sign of _love_. According to the gesture vocabulary, on
the sign _scocchiare_ being made to a person who is willing to accept
the breach of former affection, he replies in the same manner, or
still more forcibly by inserting the index of the other hand between
the index and thumb of the first, thus showing the separation by the
presence of a material obstacle. Simply refraining from holding out
the hand in any responsive gesture is sufficient to indicate that
the breach is not accepted, but that the party addressed desires to
continue in friendship instead of resolving into enmity. This weak
and inactive negative, however, does not suit Peppino's vivacity, who,
placing his left hand on his bosom, makes, with his right, one of the
signs for emphatic negation. This consists of the palm turned to the
person addressed with the index somewhat extended and separated from
the other fingers, the whole hand being oscillated from right to left.
This gesture appears on ancient Greek vases, and is compound, the
index being demonstrative and the negation shown by the horizontal
oscillation, the whole being translatable as, "That thing I want not,
won't have, reject." The sign is virtually the same as that made by
Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians (see EXTRACTS FROM DICTIONARY, page 440,
_infra_.). The conception of oscillation to show negation also appears
with different execution in the sign of the Jicarilla Apaches and the
Pai-Utes, Fig. 82. The same sign is reported from Japan, in the same

[Illustration: Fig. 83.--Coming home of Neapolitan bride.]

Tonno, in hopes that the quarrel is definitive, to do his part in
stopping the ceremony, proceeds to blow out the three lighted candles,
which are an important traditional feature of the rite. The good old
man Pasquale, with his hands extended, raised in surprised displeasure
and directed toward the insolent youth, stops his attempt. The veteran
notary, familiar with such quarrels in his experience, smiles at this
one, and, continuing in his quiet attitude, extends his right hand
placidly to Peppino with the sign of _adagio_, before described, see
Fig. 68, advising him not to get excited, but to persist quietly, and
all would be well.

       *       *       *       *       *

Fig. 83 portrays the first entrance of a bride to her husband's
house. She comes in with a tender and languid mien, her pendent
arms indicating soft yielding, and the right hand loosely holds a
handkerchief, ready to apply in case of overpowering emotion. She is,
or feigns to be, so timid and embarrassed as to require support by
the arm of a friend who introduces her. She is followed by a male
friend of the family, whose joyful face is turned toward supposed
by-standers, right hand pointing to the new acquisition, while with
his left he makes the sign of horns before described, see Fig. 79,
which in this connection is to wish prosperity and avert misfortune,
and is equivalent to the words in the Neapolitan dialect,
"_Mal'uocchie non nce pozzano_"--may evil eyes never have power over

[Illustration: Fig. 84.]

The female confidant, who supports and guides her embarrassed
friend with her right arm, brings her left hand into the sign of
_beautiful_--"See what a beauty she is!" This sign is made by the
thumb and index open and severally lightly touching each side of the
lower cheek, the other fingers open. It is given on a larger scale and
slightly varied in Fig. 84, evidently referring to a fat and rounded
visage. Almost the same sign is made by the Ojibwas of Lake Superior,
and a mere variant of it is made by the Dakotas--stroking the cheeks
alternately down to the tip of the chin with the palm or surface of
the extended fingers.

[Illustration: Fig. 85.]

The mother-in-law greets the bride by making the sign _mano in fica_
with her right hand. This sign, made with the hand clenched and
the point of the thumb between and projecting beyond the fore and
middle fingers, is more distinctly shown in Fig. 85. It has a very
ancient origin, being found on Greek antiques that have escaped the
destruction of time, more particularly in bronzes, and undoubtedly
refers to the _pudendum muliebre_. It is used offensively and
ironically, but also--which is doubtless the case in this instance--as
an invocation or prayer against evil, being more forcible than the
horn-shaped gesture before described. With this sign the Indian sign
for _female_, see Fig. 132, page 357, _infra_, may be compared.

The mother-in-law also places her left hand hollowed in front of her
abdomen, drawing with it her gown slightly forward, thereby making a
pantomimic representation of the state in which "women wish to be who
love their lords"; the idea being plainly an expressed hope that the
household will be blessed with a new generation.

[Illustration: Fig. 86.]

[Illustration: Fig. 87.]

Next to her is a hunchback, who is present as a familiar clown or
merrymaker, and dances and laughs to please the company, at the same
time snapping his fingers. Two other illustrations of this action, the
middle finger in one leaving and in the other having left the thumb
and passed to its base, are seen in Figs. 86, 87. This gesture by
itself has, like others mentioned, a great variety of significations,
but here means _joy_ and acclamation. It is frequently used among us
for subdued applause, less violent than clapping the two hands, but
still oftener to express negation with disdain, and also carelessness.
Both these uses of it are common in Naples, and appear in Etruscan
vases and Pompeian paintings, as well as in the classic authors. The
significance of the action in the hand of the contemporary statue of
Sardanapalus at Anchiale is clearly _worthlessness_, as shown by the
inscription in Assyrian, "Sardanapalus, the son of Anacyndaraxes,
built in one day Anchiale and Tarsus. Eat, drink, play; the rest is
not worth _that_!"

[Illustration: Fig. 88.]

The bridegroom has left his mother to do the honors to the bride, and
himself attends to the rest of the company, inviting one of them to
drink some wine by a sign, enlarged in Fig. 88, which is not merely
pointing to the mouth with the thumb, but the hand with the incurved
fingers represents the body of the common glass flask which the
Neapolitans use, the extended thumb being its neck; the invitation is
therefore specially to drink wine. The guest, however, responds by
a very obvious gesture that he don't wish anything to drink, but he
would like to eat some macaroni, the fingers being disposed as if
handling that comestible in the fashion of vulgar Italians. If the
idea were only to eat generally, it would have been expressed by the
fingers and thumb united in a point and moved several times near and
toward the mouth, not raised above it, as is necessary for suspending
the strings of macaroni.

[Illustration: Fig. 89.--Quarrel between Neapolitan women.]

In Fig. 89 the female in the left of the group is much disgusted at
seeing one of her former acquaintances, who has met with good fortune,
promenade in a fine costume with her husband. Overcome with jealousy,
she spreads out her dress derisively on both sides, in imitation of
the hoop-skirts once worn by women of rank, as if to say "So you are
playing the great lady!" The insulted woman, in resentment, makes with
both hands, for double effect, the sign of horns, before described,
which in this case is done obviously in menace and imprecation. The
husband is a pacific fellow who is not willing to get into a woman's
quarrel, and is very easily held back by a woman and small boy who
happen to join the group. He contents himself with pretending to be in
a great passion and biting his finger, which gesture may be collated
with the emotional clinching of the teeth and biting the lips in
anger, common to all mankind.

[Illustration: Fig. 90.--The cheating Neapolitan chestnut huckster.]

[Illustration: Fig. 91.]

In Fig. 90 a contadina, or woman from the country, who has come to the
city to sell eggs (shown to be such by her head-dress, and the form of
the basket which she has deposited on the ground), accosts a vender of
roast chestnuts and asks for a measure of them. The chestnut huckster
says they are very fine and asks a price beyond that of the market;
but a boy sees that the rustic woman is not sharp in worldly matters
and desires to warn her against the cheat. He therefore, at the moment
when he can catch her eye, pretending to lean upon his basket, and
moving thus a little behind the huckster, so as not to be seen, points
him out with his index finger, and lays his left forefinger under his
eye, pulling down the skin slightly, so as to deform the regularity
of the lower eyelid. This is a _warning against a cheat_, shown more
clearly in Fig. 91. This sign primarily indicates a squinting person,
and metaphorically one whose looks cannot be trusted, even as in
a squinting person you cannot be certain in which direction he is

[Illustration: Fig. 92.]

Fig. 92 shows the extremities of the index and thumb closely joined in
form of a cone, and turned down, the other fingers held at pleasure,
and the hand and arm advanced to the point and held steady. This
signifies _justice_, a just person, that which is just and right. The
same sign may denote friendship, a menace, which specifically is that
of being brought to justice, and snuff, i.e. powdered tobacco; but the
expression of the countenance and the circumstance of the use of the
sign determine these distinctions. Its origin is clearly the balance
or emblem of justice, the office of which consists in ascertaining
physical weight, and thence comes the moral idea of distinguishing
clearly what is just and accurate and what is not. The hand is
presented in the usual manner of holding the balance to weigh

[Illustration: Fig. 93.]

[Illustration: Fig. 94.]

Fig. 93 signifies _little, small_, both as regards the size of
physical objects or figuratively, as of a small degree of talent,
affection, or the like. It is made either by the point of the thumb
placed under the end of the index (a), or _vice versa_ (b), and the
other fingers held at will, but separated from those mentioned. The
intention is to exhibit a small portion either of the thumb or
index separated from the rest of the hand. The gesture is found in
Herculanean bronzes, with obviously the same signification. The
signs made by some tribes of Indians for the same conception are very
similar, as is seen by Figs. 94 and 95.

[Illustration: Fig. 95.]

[Illustration: Fig. 96.]

Fig. 96 is simply the index extended by itself. The other fingers are
generally bent inwards and pressed down by the thumb, as mentioned by
Quintilian, but that is not necessary to the gesture if the forefinger
is distinctly separated from the rest. It is most commonly used for
indication, pointing out, as it is over all the world, from which
comes the name index, applied by the Romans as also by us, to the
forefinger. In different relations to the several parts of the
body and arm positions it has many significations, e.g., attention,
meditation, derision, silence, number, and demonstration in general.

[Illustration: Fig. 97.]

Fig. 97 represents the head of a jackass, the thumbs being the ears,
and the separation of the little from the third fingers showing the

[Illustration: Fig. 98.]

Fig. 98 is intended to portray the head of the same animal in a front
view, the hands being laid upon each other, with thumbs extending on
each side to represent the ears. In each case the thumbs are generally
moved forward and back, in the manner of the quadruped, which, without
much apparent reason, has been selected as the emblem of stupidity.
The sign, therefore, means _stupid, fool_. Another mode of executing
the same conception--the ears of an ass--is shown in Fig. 99, where
the end of the thumb is applied to the ear or temple and the hand
is wagged up and down. Whether the ancient Greeks had the same low
opinion of the ass as is now entertained is not clear, but they
regarded long ears with derision, and Apollo, as a punishment to Midas
for his foolish decision, bestowed on him the lengthy ornaments of the
patient beast.

[Illustration: Fig. 99.]

[Illustration: Fig. 100.]

Fig. 100 is the fingers elongated and united in a point, turned
upwards. The hand is raised slightly toward the face of the gesturer
and shaken a few times in the direction of the person conversed with.
This is _inquiry_, not a mere interrogative, but to express that the
person addressed has not been clearly understood, perhaps from the
vagueness or diffusiveness of his expressions. The idea appears to
suggest the gathering of his thoughts together into one distinct
expression, or to be _pointed_ in what he wishes to say.

_Crafty, deceitful_, Fig. 101. The little fingers of both reversed
hands are hooked together, the others open but slightly curved, and,
with the hands, moved several times to the right and left. The gesture
is intended to represent a crab and the tortuous movements of the
crustacean, which are likened to those of a man who cannot be depended
on in his walk through life. He is not straight.

[Illustration: Fig. 101.]

[Illustration: Fig. 102.]

Figs. 102 and 103 are different positions of the hand in which the
approximating thumb and forefinger form a circle. This is the direst
insult that can be given. The amiable canon De Jorio only hints at
its special significance, but it may be evident to persons aware of a
practice disgraceful to Italy. It is very ancient.

[Illustration: Fig. 104.]

[Illustration: Fig. 103.]

Fig. 104 is easily recognized as a request or command to be _silent_,
either on the occasion or on the subject. The mouth, supposed to be
forcibly closed, prevents speaking, and the natural gesture, as might
be supposed, is historically ancient, but the instance, frequently
adduced from the attitude of the god Harpokrates, whose finger is on
his lips, is an error. The Egyptian hieroglyphists, notably in the
designation of Horus, their dawn-god, used the finger in or on the
lips for "child." It has been conjectured in the last instance that
the gesture implied, not the mode of taking nourishment, but inability
to speak--_in-fans_. This conjecture, however, was only made to
explain the blunder of the Greeks, who saw in the hand placed
connected with the mouth in the hieroglyph of Horus (the) son,
"Hor-(p)-chrot," the gesture familiar to themselves of a finger on
the lips to express "silence," and so, mistaking both the name and the
characterization, invented the God of Silence, Harpokrates. A careful
examination of all the linear hieroglyphs given by Champollion
(_Dictionnaire Egyptien_) shows that the finger or the hand to the
mouth of an adult (whose posture is always distinct from that of
a child) is always in connection with the positive ideas of voice,
mouth, speech, writing, eating, drinking, &c., and never with the
negative idea of silence. The special character for _child_, Fig.
105, always has the above-mentioned part of the sign with reference to
nourishment from the breast.

[Illustration: Fig. 105.]

Fig. 106 is a forcible _negation_. The outer ends of the fingers
united in a point under the chin are violently thrust forward. This
is the rejection of an idea or proposition, the same conception being
executed in several different modes by the North American Indians.

[Illustration: Fig. 106.]

Fig. 107 signifies _hunger_, and is made by extending the thumb
and index under the open mouth and turning them horizontally and
vertically several times. The idea is emptiness and desire to be
filled. It is also expressed by beating the ribs with the flat hands,
to show that the sides meet or are weak for the want of something
between them.

[Illustration: Fig. 107.]

Fig. 108 is made in mocking and ridicule. The open and oscillating
hand touches the point of the nose with that of the thumb. It has the
particular sense of stigmatizing the person addressed or in question
as a dupe. A credulous person is generally imagined with a gaping
mouth and staring eyes, and as thrusting forward his face, with
pendant chin, so that the nose is well advanced and therefore most
prominent in the profile. A dupe is therefore called _naso lungo_
or long-nose, and with Italian writers "_restare con un palmo di
naso_"--to be left with a palm's length of nose--means to have met
with loss, injury, or disappointment.

[Illustration: Fig. 108.]

The thumb stroking the forehead from one side to the other, Fig. 109,
is a natural sign of _fatigue_, and of the physical toil that produces
fatigue. The wiping off of perspiration is obviously indicated. This
gesture is often used ironically.

[Illustration: Fig. 109.]

As a _dupe_ was shown above, now the _duper_ is signified, by Fig.
110. The gesture is to place the fingers between the cravat and the
neck and rub the latter with the back of the hand. The idea is that
the deceit is put within the cravat, taken in and down, similar to our
phrase to "swallow" a false and deceitful story, and a "cram" is also
an English slang word for an incredible lie. The conception of the
slang term is nearly related to that of the Neapolitan sign, viz., the
artificial enlargement of the oesophagus of the person victimized or
on whom imposition is attempted to be practiced, which is necessary to
take it down.

[Illustration: Fig. 110.]

Fig. 111 shows the ends of the index and thumb stroking the two sides
of the nose from base to point. This means _astute, attentive, ready_.
Sharpness of the nasal organ is popularly associated with subtlety
and finesse. The old Romans by _homo emunctæ naris_ meant an acute
man attentive to his interests. The sign is often used in a bad sense,
then signifying _too_ sharp to be trusted.

[Illustration: Fig. 111.]

This somewhat lengthy but yet only partial list of Neapolitan
gesture-signs must conclude with one common throughout Italy, and also
among us with a somewhat different signification, yet perhaps also
derived from classic times. To express suspicion of a person the
forefinger of the right hand is placed upon the side of the nose. It
means _tainted_, not sound. It is used to give an unfavorable report
of a person inquired of and to warn against such.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Chinese, though ready in gesticulation and divided by dialects,
do not appear to make general use of a systematic sign language, but
they adopt an expedient rendered possible by the peculiarity of their
written characters, with which a large proportion of their adults
are acquainted, and which are common in form to the whole empire. The
inhabitants of different provinces when meeting, and being unable to
converse orally, do not try to do so, but write the characters of the
words upon the ground or trace them on the palm of the hand or in the
air. Those written characters each represent words in the same manner
as do the Arabic or Roman numerals, which are the same to Italians,
Germans, French, and English, and therefore intelligible, but if
expressed in sound or written in full by the alphabet, would not be
mutually understood. This device of the Chinese was with less apparent
necessity resorted to in the writer's personal knowledge between
a Hungarian who could talk Latin, and a then recent graduate from
college who could also do so to some extent, but their pronunciation
was so different as to occasion constant difficulty, so they both
wrote the words on paper, instead of attempting to speak them.

The efforts at intercommunication of all savage and barbarian tribes,
when brought into contact with other bodies of men not speaking
an oral language common to both, and especially when uncivilized
inhabitants of the same territory are separated by many linguistic
divisions, should in theory resemble the devices of the North American
Indians. They are not shown by published works to prevail in the
Eastern hemisphere to the same extent and in the same manner as
in North America. It is, however, probable that they exist in many
localities, though not reported, and also that some of them survive
after partial or even high civilization has been attained, and
after changed environment has rendered their systematic employment
unnecessary. Such signs may be, first, unconnected with existing
oral language, and used in place of it; second, used to explain or
accentuate the words of ordinary speech, or third, they may consist
of gestures, emotional or not, which are only noticed in oratory
or impassioned conversation, being, possibly, survivals of a former
gesture language.

From correspondence instituted it may be expected that a considerable
collection of signs will be obtained from West and South Africa,
India, Arabia, Turkey, the Fiji Islands, Sumatra, Madagascar, Ceylon,
and especially from Australia, where the conditions are similar
in many respects to those prevailing in North America prior to the
Columbian discovery. In the _Aborigines of Victoria, Melbourne_,
1878, by R. Brough Smythe, the author makes the following curious
remarks: "It is believed that they have several signs, known only to
themselves, or to those among the whites who have had intercourse
with them for lengthened periods, which convey information readily
and accurately. Indeed, because of their use of signs, it is the firm
belief of many (some uneducated and some educated) that the natives of
Australia are acquainted with the secrets of Freemasonry."

In the _Report of the cruise of the United States Revenue steamer
Corwin in the Arctic Ocean, Washington_, 1881, it appears that
the Innuits of the northwestern extremity of America use signs
continually. Captain Hooper, commanding that steamer, is reported
by Mr. Petroff to have found that the natives of Nunivak Island, on
the American side, below Behring Strait, trade by signs with those
of the Asiatic coast, whose language is different. Humboldt in his
journeyings among the Indians of the Orinoco, where many small
isolated tribes spoke languages not understood by any other, found the
language of signs in full operation. Spix and Martius give a similar
account of the Puris and Coroados of Brazil.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is not necessary to enlarge under the present heading upon the
signs of deaf-mutes, except to show the intimate relation between sign
language as practiced by them and the gesture signs, which, even
if not "natural," are intelligible to the most widely separated of
mankind. A Sandwich Islander, a Chinese, and the Africans from the
slaver Amistad have, in published instances, visited our deaf-mute
institutions with the same result of free and pleasurable intercourse;
and an English deaf-mute had no difficulty in conversing with
Laplanders. It appears, also, on the authority of Sibscota, whose
treatise was published in 1670, that Cornelius Haga, ambassador of
the United Provinces to the Sublime Porte, found the Sultan's mutes
to have established a language among themselves in which they
could discourse with a speaking interpreter, a degree of ingenuity
interfering with the object of their selection as slaves unable to
repeat conversation. A curious instance has also been reported to the
writer of operatives in a large mill where the constant rattling of
the machinery rendered them practically deaf during the hours of work
and where an original system of gestures was adopted.

In connection with the late international convention, at Milan, of
persons interested in the instruction of deaf-mutes which, in the
enthusiasm of the members for the new system of artificial articulate
speech, made war upon all gesture-signs, it is curious that such
prohibition of gesture should be urged regarding mutes when it was
prevalent to so great an extent among the speaking people of the
country where the convention was held, and when the advocates of it
were themselves so dependent on gestures to assist their own oratory
if not their ordinary conversation. Artificial articulation surely
needs the aid of significant gestures more, when in the highest
perfection to which it can attain, than does oral speech in its own
high development. The use of artificial speech is also necessarily
confined to the oral language acquired by the interlocutors and throws
away the advantage of universality possessed by signs.


Less of practical value can be learned of sign language, considered as
a system, from the study of gestures of actors and orators than would
appear without reflection. The pantomimist who uses no words whatever
is obliged to avail himself of every natural or imagined connection
between thought and gesture, and, depending wholly on the latter,
makes himself intelligible. On the stage and the rostrum words are
the main reliance, and gestures generally serve for rhythmic movement
and to display personal grace. At the most they give the appropriate
representation of the general idea expressed by the words, but do not
attempt to indicate the idea itself. An instance is recorded of
the addition of significance to gesture when it is employed by the
gesturer, himself silent, to accompany words used by another. Livius
Andronicus, being hoarse, obtained permission to have his part sung by
another actor while he continued to make the gestures, and he did
so with much greater effect than before, as Livy, the historian,
explains, because he was not impeded by the exertion of the voice;
but the correct explanation probably is, because his attention was
directed to ideas, not mere words.


To look at the performance of a play through thick glass or with
closed ears has much the same absurd effect that is produced by
also stopping the ears while at a ball and watching the apparently
objectless capering of the dancers, without the aid of musical
accompaniment. Diderot, in his _Lettre sur les sourds muets_, gives
his experience as follows:

"I used frequently to attend the theater and I knew by heart most
of our good plays. Whenever I wished to criticise the movements and
gestures of the actors I went to the third tier of boxes, for the
further I was from them the better I was situated for this purpose.
As soon as the curtain rose, and the moment came when the other
spectators disposed themselves to listen, I put my fingers into my
ears, not without causing some surprise among those who surrounded me,
who, not understanding, almost regarded me as a crazy man who had
come to the play only not to hear it. I was very little embarrassed by
their comments, however, and obstinately kept my ears closed as long
as the action and gestures of the players seemed to me to accord with
the discourse which I recollected. I listened only when I failed to
see the appropriateness of the gestures.. There are few actors capable
of sustaining such a test, and the details into which I could enter
would be mortifying to most of them."

It will be noticed that Diderot made this test with regard to the
appropriate gestural representation of plays that he knew by heart,
but if he had been entirely without any knowledge of the plot, the
difficulty in his comprehending it from gestures alone would have been
enormously increased. When many admirers of Ristori, who were wholly
unacquainted with the language in which her words were delivered,
declared that her gesture and expression were so perfect that they
understood every sentence, it is to be doubted if they would have been
so delighted if they had not been thoroughly familiar with the plots
of Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart. This view is confirmed by the case
of a deaf-mute, told to the writer by Professor FAY, who had prepared
to enjoy Ristori's acting by reading in advance the advertised play,
but on his reaching the theater another play was substituted and he
could derive no idea from its presentation. The experience of the
present writer is that he could gain very little meaning in detail out
of the performance at a Chinese theater, where there is much more
true pantomime than in the European, without a general notion of the
subject as conveyed from time to time by an interpreter. A crucial
test on this subject was made at the representation at Washington,
in April, 1881, of _Frou-Frou_ by Sarah Bernhardt and the excellent
French company supporting her. Several persons of special intelligence
and familiar with theatrical performances, but who did not understand
spoken French, and had not heard or read the play before or even seen
an abstract of it, paid close attention to ascertain what they could
learn of the plot and incidents from the gestures alone. This could be
determined in the special play the more certainly as it is not founded
on historic events or any known facts. The result was that from the
entrance of the heroine during the first scene in a peacock-blue
riding habit to her death in a black walking-suit, three hours or five
acts later, none of the students formed any distinct conception of the
plot. This want of apprehension extended even to uncertainty whether
_Gilberte_ was married or not; that is, whether her adventures were
those of a disobedient daughter or a faithless wife, and, if married,
which of the half dozen male personages was her husband. There were
gestures enough, indeed rather a profusion of them, and they were
thoroughly appropriate to the words (when those were understood) in
which fun, distress, rage, and other emotions were expressed, but in
no cases did they interpret the motive for those emotions. They were
the dressing for the words of the actors as the superb millinery
was that of their persons, and perhaps acted as varnish to bring out
dialogues and soliloquies in heightened effect. But though varnish can
bring into plainer view dull or faded characters, it cannot introduce
into them significance where none before existed. The simple fact was
that the gestures of the most famed histrionic school, the Comédie
Française, were not significant, far less self-interpreting, and
though praised as the perfection of art, have diverged widely
from nature. It thus appears that the absence of absolute
self-interpretation by gesture is by no means confined to the lower
grade of actors, such as are criticised in the old lines:

  When to enforce some very tender part
  His left hand sleeps by instinct on the heart;
  His soul, of every other thought bereft,
  Seems anxious only--where to place the left!

Without relying wholly upon the facts above mentioned, it will be
admitted upon reflection that however numerous and correct may be
the actually significant gestures made by a great actor in the
representation of his part, they must be in small proportion to the
number of gestures not at all significant, and which are no less
necessary to give to his declamation precision, grace, and force.
Significant gestures on the stage may be regarded in the nature of
high seasoning and ornamentation, which by undue use defeat their
object and create disgust. Histrionic perfection is, indeed, more
shown in the slight shades of movement of the head, glances of the
eye, and poises of the body than in violent attitudes; but these
slight movements are wholly unintelligible without the words uttered
with them. Even in the expression of strong emotion the same gesture
will apply to many and utterly diverse conditions of fact. The
greatest actor in telling that his father was dead can convey his
grief with a shade of difference from that which he would use if
saying that his wife had run away, his son been arrested for murder,
or his house burned down; but that shade would not without words
inform any person, ignorant of the supposed event, which of the four
misfortunes had occurred. A true sign language, however, would fully
express the exact circumstances, either with or without any exhibition
of the general emotion appropriate to them.

Even among the best sign-talkers, whether Indian or deaf-mute, it
is necessary to establish some _rapport_ relating to theme or
subject-matter, since many gestures, as indeed is the case in a
less degree with spoken words, have widely different significations,
according to the object of their exhibition, as well as the context.
Panurge (_Pantagruel_, Book III, ch. xix) hits the truth upon this
point, however ungallant in his application of it to the fair sex.
He is desirous to consult a dumb man, but says it would be useless
to apply to a woman, for "whatever it be that they see they do always
represent unto their fancies, and imagine that it hath some relation
to love. Whatever signs, shows, or gestures we shall make, or whatever
our behavior, carriage, or demeanor shall happen to be in their
view and presence, they will interpret the whole in reference to
androgynation." A story is told to the same point by Guevara, in his
fabulous life of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. A young Roman gentleman
encountering at the foot of Mount Celion a beautiful Latin lady, who
from her very cradle had been deaf and dumb, asked her in gesture what
senators in her descent from the top of the hill she had met with,
going up thither. She straightway imagined that he had fallen in love
with her and was eloquently proposing marriage, whereupon she at once
threw herself into his arms in acceptance. The experience of travelers
on the Plains is to the same general effect, that signs commonly used
to men are understood by women in a sense so different as to occasion
embarrassment. So necessary was it to strike the mental key-note
of the spectators by adapting their minds to time, place, and
circumstance, that even in the palmiest days of pantomime it was
customary for the crier to give some short preliminary explanation
of what was to be acted, which advantage is now retained by our
play-bills, always more specific when the performance is in a foreign
language, unless, indeed, the management is interested in the sale of


If the scenic gestures are so seldom significant, those appropriate to
oratory are of course still less so. They require energy, variety, and
precision, but also a degree of simplicity which is incompatible with
the needs of sign language. As regards imitation, they are restrained
within narrow bounds and are equally suited to a great variety of
sentiments. Among the admirable illustrations in Austin's _Chironomia_
of gestures applicable to the several passages in Gay's "Miser and
Plutus" one is given for "But virtue's sold" which is perfectly
appropriate, but is not in the slightest degree suggestive either
of virtue or of the transaction of sale. It could be used for an
indefinite number of thoughts or objects which properly excited
abhorrence, and therefore without the words gives no special
interpretation. Oratorical delivery demands general grace--cannot rely
upon the emotions of the moment for spontaneous appropriateness, and
therefore requires preliminary study and practice, such as are applied
to dancing and fencing with a similar object; indeed, accomplishment
in both dancing and fencing has been recommended as of use to
all orators. In reference to this subject a quotation from Lord
Chesterfield's letters is in place: "I knew a young man, who,
being just elected a member of Parliament, was laughed at for being
discovered, through the key-hole of his chamber door, speaking to
himself in the glass and forming his looks and gestures. I could not
join in that laugh, but, on the contrary, thought him much wiser than
those that laughed at him, for he knew the importance of those little
graces in a public assembly and they did not."


In no other thoroughly explored part of the world has there been found
spread over so large a space so small a number of individuals divided
by so many linguistic and dialectic boundaries as in North America.
Many wholly distinct tongues have for an indefinitely long time been
confined to a few scores of speakers, verbally incomprehensible to
all others on the face of the earth who did not, from some rarely
operating motive, laboriously acquire their language. Even when the
American race, so styled, flourished in the greatest population of
which we have any evidence (at least according to the published views
of the present writer, which seem to have been generally accepted),
the immense number of languages and dialects still preserved, or known
by early recorded fragments to have once existed, so subdivided it
that only the dwellers in a very few villages could talk together with
ease. They were all interdistributed among unresponsive vernaculars,
each to the other being _bar-bar-ous_ in every meaning of the term.
The number of known stocks or families of Indian languages within the
territory of the United States amounts now to sixty-five, and these
differ among themselves as radically as each differs from the Hebrew,
Chinese, or English. In each of these linguistic families there are
several, sometimes as many as twenty, separate languages, which also
differ from each other as much as do the English, French, German, and
Persian divisions of the Aryan linguistic stock.

The use of gesture-signs, continued, if not originating, in necessity
for communication with the outer world, became entribally convenient
from the habits of hunters, the main occupation of all savages,
depending largely upon stealthy approach to game, and from the sole
form of their military tactics--to surprise an enemy. In the still
expanse of virgin forests, and especially in the boundless solitudes
of the great plains, a slight sound can be heard over a large area,
that of the human voice being from its rarity the most startling,
so that it is now, as it probably has been for centuries, a common
precaution for members of a hunting or war party not to speak together
when on such expeditions, communicating exclusively by signs. The
acquired habit also exhibits itself not only in formal oratory and
in impassioned or emphatic conversation, but also as a picturesque
accompaniment to ordinary social talk. Hon. LEWIS H. MORGAN mentions
in a letter to this writer that he found a silent but happy family
composed of an Atsina (commonly called Gros Ventre of the Prairie)
woman, who had been married two years to a Frenchman, during which
time they had neither of them attempted to learn each other's
language; but the husband having taken kindly to the language of
signs, they conversed together by that means with great contentment.
It is also often resorted to in mere laziness, one gesture saving
many words. The gracefulness, ingenuity, and apparent spontaneity of
the greater part of the signs can never be realized until actually
witnessed, and their beauty is much heightened by the free play to
which the arms of these people are accustomed, and the small and
well-shaped hands for which they are remarkable. Among them can seldom
be noticed in literal fact--

  The graceless action of a heavy hand--

which the Bastard metaphorically condemns in King John.

The conditions upon which the survival of sign language among
the Indians has depended is well shown by those attending its
discontinuance among certain tribes.

Many instances are known of the discontinuance of gesture speech with
no development in the native language of the gesturers, but from the
invention for intercommunication of one used in common. The Kalapuyas
of Southern Oregon until recently used a sign language, but have
gradually adopted for foreign intercourse the composite tongue,
commonly called the Tsinuk or Chinook jargon, which probably arose for
trade purposes on the Columbia River before the advent of Europeans,
founded on the Tsinuk, Tsihali, Nutka, &c., but now enriched by
English and French terms, and have nearly forgotten their old signs.
The prevalence of this mongrel speech, originating in the same causes
that produced the pigeon-English or _lingua-franca_ of the Orient,
explains the marked scantiness of sign language among the tribes of
the Northwest coast.

Where the Chinook jargon has not extended on the coast to the North,
the Russian language commences, used in the same manner, but it
has not reached so deeply into the interior of the continent as the
Chinook, which has been largely adopted within the region bounded by
the eastern line of Oregon and Washington, and has become known even
to the Pai-Utes of Nevada. The latter, however, while using it with
the Oregonian tribes to their west and north, still keep up sign
language for communication with the Banaks, who have not become so
familiar with the Chinook. The Alaskan tribes on the coast also used
signs not more than a generation ago, as is proved by the fact that
some of the older men can yet converse by this means with the natives
of the interior, whom they occasionally meet. Before the advent of
the Russians the coast tribes traded their dried fish and oil for the
skins and paints of the eastern tribes by visiting the latter, whom
they did not allow to come to the coast, and this trade was conducted
mainly in sign language. The Russians brought a better market, so
the travel to the interior ceased, and with it the necessity for the
signs, which therefore gradually died out, and are little known to
the present generation on the coast, though still continuing in the
interior, where the inhabitants are divided by dialects.

No explanation is needed for the disuse of a language of signs for
the special purpose now in question when the speech of surrounding
civilization is recognized as necessary or important to be acquired,
and gradually becomes known as the best common medium, even before it
is actually spoken by many individuals of the several tribes. When
it has become general, signs, as systematically employed before,
gradually fade away.


In this paper it is not designed to pronounce upon theories, and
certainly none will be advocated in a spirit of dogmatism. The writer
recognizes that the subject in its novelty specially requires an
objective and not a subjective consideration. His duty is to collect
the facts as they are, and this as soon as possible, since every
year will add to the confusion and difficulty. After the facts are
established the theories will take care of themselves, and their final
enunciation will be in the hands of men more competent than the writer
will ever pretend to be, although his knowledge, after careful study
of all data attainable, may be considerably increased. The mere
collection of facts, however, cannot be prosecuted to advantage
without predetermined rules of judgment, nor can they be classified at
all without the adoption of some principle which involves a tentative
theory. More than a generation ago Baader noticed that scientific
observers only accumulated great masses of separate facts without
establishing more connection between them than an arbitrary and
imperfect classification; and before him Goethe complained of the
indisposition of students of nature to look upon the universe as a
whole. But since the great theory of evolution has been brought to
general notice no one will be satisfied at knowing a fact without also
trying to establish its relation to other facts. Therefore a working
hypothesis, which shall not be held to with tenacity, is not only
allowable but necessary. It is also important to examine with proper
respect the theories advanced by others. Some of these, suggested in
the few publications on the subject and also by correspondents, will
be mentioned.


The story has been told by travelers in many parts of the world that
various languages cannot be clearly understood in the dark by their
possessors, using their mother tongue between themselves. The evidence
for this anywhere is suspicious; and when it is asserted, as it
often has been, in reference to some of the tribes of North American
Indians, it is absolutely false, and must be attributed to the error
of travelers who, ignorant of the dialect, never see the natives
except when trying to make themselves intelligible to their visitors
by a practice which they have found by experience to have been
successful with strangers to their tongue, or perhaps when they are
guarding against being overheard by others. Captain Burton, in his
_City of the Saints_, specially states that the Arapahos possess a
very scanty vocabulary, pronounced in a quasi-unintelligible way, and
can hardly converse with one another in the dark. The truth is that
their vocabulary is by no means scanty, and they do converse with each
other with perfect freedom without any gestures when they so please.
The difficulty in speaking or understanding their language is in the
large number of guttural and interrupted sounds which are not helped
by external motions of the mouth and lips in articulation, and the
light gives little advantage to its comprehension so far as concerns
the vocal apparatus, which, in many languages, can be seen as well
as heard, as is proved by the modern deaf-mute practice of artificial
speech. The corresponding story that no white man ever learned Arapaho
is also false. A member of Frémont's party so long ago as 1842 spoke
the language. Burton in the same connection gives a story "of a
man who, being sent among the Cheyennes to qualify himself for
interpreting, returned in a week and proved his competency; all he
did, however, was to go through the usual pantomime with a running
accompaniment of grunts." And he might as well have omitted the
grunts, for he obviously only used sign language. Lieutenant Abert, in
1846-'47, made much more sensible remarks from his actual observation
than Captain Burton repeated at second-hand from a Mormon met by
him at Salt Lake. He said: "Some persons think that it [the Cheyenne
language] would be incomplete without gesture, because the Indians use
gestures constantly. But I have been assured that the language is in
itself capable of bodying forth any idea to which one may wish to give

In fact, individuals of those American tribes specially instanced in
these reports as unable to converse without gesture, often, in their
domestic _abandon_, wrap themselves up in robes or blankets with only
breathing holes before the nose, so that no part of the body is seen,
and chatter away for hours, telling long stories. If in daylight
they thus voluntarily deprive themselves of the possibility of making
signs, it is clear that their preference for talks around the fire at
night is explicable by very natural reasons wholly distinct from the
one attributed. The inference, once carelessly made from the free use
of gesture by some of the Shoshonian stock, that their tongue was too
meager for use without signs, is refuted by the now ascertained fact
that their vocabulary is remarkably copious and their parts of speech
better differentiated than those of many people on whom no such
stigma has been affixed. The proof of this was seen in the writer's
experience, when Ouray, the head chief of the Utes, was at Washington,
in the early part of 1880, and after an interview with the Secretary
of the Interior made report of it to the rest of the delegation who
had not been present. He spoke without pause in his own language for
nearly an hour, in a monotone and without a single gesture. The reason
for this depressed manner was undoubtedly because he was very sad at
the result, involving loss of land and change of home; but the fact
remains that full information was communicated on a complicated
subject without the aid of a manual sign, and also without even
such change of inflection of voice as is common among Europeans. All
theories based upon the supposed poverty of American languages must be

The grievous accusation against foreign people that they have no
intelligible language is venerable and general. With the Greeks
the term [Greek: aglossos], "tongueless," was used synonymous with
[Greek: barbaros], "barbarian" of all who were not Greek. The name
"Slav," assumed by a grand division of the Aryan family, means "the
speaker," and is contradistinguished from the other peoples of the
world, such as the Germans, who are called in Russian "Njemez," that is,
"speechless." In Isaiah (xxxiii, 19) the Assyrians are called a people
"of a stammering tongue, that one cannot understand." The common use of
the expression "tongueless" and "speechless," so applied, has probably
given rise, as TYLOR suggests, to the mythical stories of actually
speechless tribes of savages, and the considerations and instances
above presented tend to discredit the many other accounts of languages
which are incomplete without the help of gesture. The theory that sign
language was in whole or in chief the original utterance of mankind
would be strongly supported by conclusive evidence to the truth of such
travelers' tales, but does not depend upon them. Nor, considering the
immeasurable period during which, in accordance with modern geologic
views, man has been on the earth, is it probable that any existing
races can be found in which speech has not obviated the absolute
necessity for gesture in communication among themselves. The signs
survive for convenience, used together with oral language, and for
special employment when language is unavailable.

A comparison sometimes drawn between sign language and that of our
Indians, founded on the statement of their common poverty in abstract
expressions, is not just to either. This paper will be written in
vain if it shall not suggest the capacities of gesture speech in that
regard, and a deeper study into Indian tongues has shown that they are
by no means so confined to the concrete as was once believed.


Col. Richard I. Dodge, United States Army, whose long experience among
the Indians entitles his opinion to great respect, says in a letter:

"The embodiment of signs into a systematic language is, I believe,
confined to the Indians of the Plains. Contiguous tribes gain, here
and there, a greater or less knowledge of this language; these again
extend the knowledge, diminished and probably perverted, to their
neighbors, until almost all the Indian tribes of the United States
east of the Sierras have some little smattering of it. The Plains
Indians believe the Kiowas to have invented the sign language, and
that by them its use was communicated to other Plains tribes. If this
is correct, analogy would lead us to believe that those tribes most
nearly in contact with the Kiowas would use it most fluently and
correctly, the knowledge becoming less as the contact diminishes.
Thus the Utes, though nearly contiguous (in territory) to the Plains
Indians, have only the merest 'picked up' knowledge of this language,
and never use it among themselves, simply because, they and the Plains
tribes having been, since the memory of their oldest men, in a chronic
state of war, there has been no social contact."

In another communication Colonel Dodge is still more definite:

"The Plains Indians themselves believe the sign language was invented
by the Kiowas, who holding an intermediate position between the
Comanches, Tonkaways, Lipans, and other inhabitants of the vast
plains of Texas, and the Pawnees, Sioux, Blackfeet, and other northern
tribes, were the general go-betweens, trading with all, making peace
or war with or for any or all. It is certain that the Kiowas are at
present more universally proficient in this language than any other
Plains tribe. It is also certain that the tribes farthest away from
them and with whom they have least intercourse use it with least

Dr. William H. Corbusier, assistant surgeon United States Army, a
valued contributor, gives information as follows:

"The traditions of the Indians point toward the south as the direction
from which the sign language came. They refer to the time when they
did not use it; and each tribe say they learned it from those south
of them. The Comanches, who acquired it in Mexico, taught it to the
Arapahoes and Kiowas, and from these the Cheyennes learned it. The
Sioux say that they had no knowledge of it before they crossed the
Missouri River and came in contact with the Cheyennes, but have quite
recently learned it from them. It would thus appear that the Plains
Indians did not invent it, but finding it adapted to their wants
adopted it as a convenient means of communicating with those whose
language they did not understand, and it rapidly spread from tribe
to tribe over the Plains. As the sign language came from Mexico,
the Spaniards suggest themselves as the introducers of it on this
continent. They are adepts in the use of signs. Cortez as he marched
through Mexico would naturally have resorted to signs in communicating
with the numerous tribes with which he came in contract. Finding them
very necessary, one sign after another would suggest itself and be
adopted by Spaniards and Indians, and, as the former advanced, one
tribe after another would learn to use them. The Indians on the
Plains, finding them so useful, preserved them and each tribe modified
them to suit their convenience, but the signs remained essentially
the same. The Shoshones took the sign language with them as they moved
northwest, and a few of the Piutes may have learned it from them, but
the Piutes as a tribe do not use it."

Mr. Ben. Clarke, the respected and skillful interpreter at Fort Reno
writes to the same general effect:

"The Cheyennes think that the sign language used by the Cheyennes,
Arapahoes, Ogallala and Brulé Sioux, Kiowas, and Comanches originated
with the Kiowas. It is a tradition that, many years ago, when the
Northern Indians were still without horses, the Kiowas often raided
among the Mexican Indians and captured droves of horses on these
trips. The Northern Plains Indians used to journey to them and trade
for horses. The Kiowas were already proficient in signs, and the
others learned from them. It was the journeying to the South that
finally divided the Cheyennes, making the Northern and Southern
Cheyennes. The same may be said of the Arapahoes. That the Kiowas were
the first sign talkers is only a tradition, but as a tribe they are
now considered to be the best or most thorough of the Plains Indians."

Without engaging in any controversy on this subject it may be noticed
that the theory advanced supposes a comparatively recent origin of
sign language from one tribe and one region, whereas, so far as can be
traced, the conditions favorable to a sign language existed very long
ago and were co-extensive with the territory of North America occupied
by any of the tribes. To avoid repetition reference is made to the
discussion below under the heads of universality, antiquity, identity,
and permanence. At this point it is only desired to call attention
to the ancient prevalence of signs among tribes such as the Iroquois,
Wyandot, Ojibwa, and at least three generations back among the Crees
beyond our northern boundary and the Mandans and other far-northern
Dakotas, not likely at that time to have had communication, even
through intertribal channels, with the Kaiowas. It is also difficult
to understand how their signs would have in that manner reached
the Kutchin of Eastern Alaska and the Kutine and Selish of British
Columbia, who use signs now. At the same time due consideration must
be given to the great change in the intercommunication of tribes,
produced by the importation of the horse, by which the habits of
those Indians now, but not very anciently, inhabiting the Plains were
entirely changed. It is probable that a sign language before existing
became, contemporaneously with nomadic life, cultivated and enriched.

As regards the Spanish origin suggested, there is ample evidence that
the Spaniards met signs in their early explorations north of and in
the northern parts of Mexico, and availed themselves of them but did
not introduce them. It is believed also that the elaborate picture
writing of Mexico was founded on gesture signs.

With reference to the statement that the Kaiowas are the most expert
sign talkers of the Plains, a number of authorities and correspondents
give the precedence to the Cheyennes, and an equal number to the
Arapahos. Probably the accident of meeting specially skillful talkers
in the several tribes visited influences such opinions.

The writer's experience, both of the Utes and Pai-Utes, is different
from the above statement respecting the absence of signs among them.
They not only use their own signs but fully understand the difference
between the signs regarded as their own and those of the Kaiowas. On
special examination they understood some of the latter only as words
of a foreign language interpolated in an oral conversation would be
comprehended from the context, and others they would recognize as
having seen before among other tribes without adoption. The same is
true regarding the Brulé Sioux, as was clearly expressed by Medicine
Bull, their chief. The Pimas, Papagos, and Maricopas examined had a
copious sign language, yet were not familiar with many Kaiowa signs
presented to them.

Instead of referring to a time past when they did not use signs, the
Indians examined by the writer and by most of his correspondents
speak of a time when they and their fathers used it more freely
and copiously than at present, its disuse being from causes before
mentioned. It, however, may be true in some cases that a tribe, having
been for a long time in contact only with others the dialect of which
was so nearly akin as to be comprehensible, or from any reason being
separated from those of a strange speech, discontinued sign language
for a time, and then upon migration or forced removal came into
circumstances where it was useful, and revived it. It is asserted that
some of the Muskoki and the Ponkas now in the Indian Territory never
saw sign language until they arrived there. Yet there is some evidence
that the Muskoki did use signs a century ago, and some of the Ponkas
still remaining on their old homes on the Missouri remember it and
have given their knowledge to an accurate correspondent, Rev. J.O.
Dorsey, though for many years they have not been in circumstances to
require its employment.

Perhaps the most salutary criticism to be offered regarding the theory
would be in the form of a query whether sign language has ever been
invented by any one body of people at any one time, and whether it is
not simply a phase in evolution, surviving and reviving when needed.
Criticism on this subject is made reluctantly, as it would be highly
interesting to determine that sign language on this continent came
from a particular stock, and to ascertain that stock. Such research
would be similar to that into the Aryan and Semitic sources to
which many modern languages have been traced backwards from existing
varieties, and if there appear to be existing varieties in signs their
roots may still be found to be _sui generis_. The possibility that the
discrepancy between signs was formerly greater than at present will
receive attention in discussing the distinction between the identity
of signs and their common use as an art. It is sufficient to add
now that not only does the burden of proof rest unfavorably upon
the attempt to establish one parent stock for sign language in North
America, but it also comes under the stigma now fastened upon the
immemorial effort to name and locate the original oral speech of man.
It is only next in difficulty to the old persistent determination
to decide upon the origin of the whole Indian "race," in which most
peoples of antiquity in the eastern hemisphere, including the
lost tribes of Israel, the Gipsies, and the Welsh, have figured
conspicuously as putative parents.


This inquiry is closely connected with the last. If the system of
signs was invented here in the correct sense of that term, and by a
known and existing tribe, it is probable that it would not be
found prevailing in any important degree where the influence of the
inventors could not readily have penetrated. An affirmative answer
to the question also presupposes the same answer to another question,
viz, whether there is any one uniform system among the North American
Indians which can therefore be compared with any other system. This
last inquiry will be considered in its order. In comparing the system
as a whole with others, the latter are naturally divided into signs of
speaking men foreign to America and those of deaf-mutes.


The generalization of TYLOR that "gesture language is substantially
the same among savage tribes all over the world," interpreted by his
remarks in another connection, is understood as referring to their
common use of signs, and of signs formed on the same principles, but
not of precisely the same signs to express the same ideas. In this
sense of the generalization the result of the writer's study not only
sustains it, but shows a surprising number of signs for the same idea
which are substantially identical, not only among savage tribes, but
among all peoples that use gesture signs with any freedom. Men, in
groping for a mode of communication with each other, and using the
same general methods, have been under many varying conditions and
circumstances which have determined differently many conceptions and
their semiotic execution, but there have also been many of both which
were similar. Our Indians have no special superstition concerning the
evil-eye like the Italians, nor have they been long familiar with the
jackass so as to make him emblematical of stupidity; therefore signs
for these concepts are not cisatlantic, but even in this paper many
are shown which are substantially in common between our Indians
and Italians. The large collection already obtained, but not now
published, shows many others identical, not only with those of the
Italians and the classic Greeks and Romans, but of other peoples of
the Old World, both savage and civilized. The generic uniformity
is obvious, while the occasion of specific varieties can be readily


The Indians who have been shown over the civilized East have often
succeeded in holding intercourse, by means of their invention and
application of principles in what may be called the voiceless mother
utterance, with white deaf-mutes, who surely have no semiotic code
more nearly connected with that attributed to the plain-roamers
than is derived from their common humanity. They showed the greatest
pleasure in meeting deaf-mutes, precisely as travelers in a foreign
country are rejoiced to meet persons speaking their language, with
whom they can hold direct communication without the tiresome and often
suspected medium of an interpreter. When they met together they were
found to pursue the same course as that noticed at the meeting of
deaf-mutes who were either not instructed in any methodical dialect
or who had received such instruction by different methods. They often
disagreed in the signs at first presented, but soon understood them,
and finished by adopting some in mutual compromise, which proved to be
those most strikingly appropriate, graceful, and convenient; but there
still remained in some cases a plurality of fitting signs for the same
idea or object. On one of the most interesting of these occasions, at
the Pennsylvania Institution for the Deaf and Dumb, in 1873, it was
remarked that the signs of the deaf-mutes were much more readily
understood by the Indians, who were Absaroka or Crows, Arapahos, and
Cheyennes, than were theirs by the deaf-mutes, and that the latter
greatly excelled in pantomimic effect. This need not be surprising
when it is considered that what is to the Indian a mere adjunct or
accomplishment is to the deaf-mute the natural mode of utterance, and
that there is still greater freedom from the trammel of translating
words into action--instead of acting the ideas themselves--when, the
sound of words being unknown, they remain still as they originated,
but another kind of sign, even after the art of reading is acquired,
and do not become entities as with us. The "action, action, action,"
of Demosthenes is their only oratory, not the mere heightening of it,
however valuable.

On March 6, 1880, the writer had an interesting experience in taking
to the National Deaf-Mute College at Washington seven Utes (which
tribe, according to report, is unacquainted with sign language), among
whom were Augustin, Alejandro, Jakonik, Severio, and Wash. By the kind
attention of President GALLAUDET a thorough test was given, an equal
number of deaf-mute pupils being placed in communication with the
Indians, alternating with them both in making individual signs and in
telling narratives in gesture, which were afterwards interpreted in
speech by the Ute interpreter and the officers of the college. Notes
of a few of them were taken, as follows:

Among the signs was that for _squirrel_, given by a deaf-mute. The
right hand was placed over and facing the left, and about four inches
above the latter, to show the height of the animal; then the two hands
were held edgewise and horizontally in front, about eight inches apart
(showing _length_); then imitating the grasping of a small object and
biting it rapidly with the incisors, the extended index was pointed
upward and forward (_in a tree_).

This was not understood, as the Utes have no sign for the tree
squirrel, the arboreal animal not being now found in their region.

Deaf-mute sign for _jack-rabbit_: The first two fingers of each hand
extended (the remaining fingers and thumbs closed) were placed on
either side of the head, pointing upward; then arching the hands, palm
down, quick, interrupted, jumping movements forward were made.

This was readily understood.

The signs for the following narrative were given by a deaf-mute: When
he was a boy he mounted a horse without either bridle or saddle, and
as the horse began to go he grasped him by the neck for support; a dog
flew at the horse, began to bark, when the rider was thrown off and
considerably hurt.

In this the sign for _dog_ was as follows: Pass the arched hand
forward from the lower part of the face, to illustrate elongated nose
and mouth, then with both forefingers extended, remaining fingers and
thumbs closed, place them upon either side of the lower jaw, pointing
upward, to show lower canines, at the same time accompanying the
gesture with an expression of withdrawing the lips so as to show the
teeth snarling; then, with the fingers of the right hand extended and
separated throw them quickly forward and slightly upward (_voice_ or

This sign was understood to mean _bear_, as that for _dog_ is
different among the Utes, i.e., by merely showing the height of the
dog and pushing the flat hand forward, finger-tips first.

Another deaf-mute gestured to tell that when he was a boy he went to
a melon-field, tapped several melons, finding them to be green or
unripe; finally reaching a good one he took his knife, cut a slice,
and ate it. A man made his appearance on horseback, entered the patch
on foot, found the cut melon, and detecting the thief, threw the melon
towards him, hitting him in the back, whereupon he ran away crying.
The man mounted and rode off in an opposite direction.

All of these signs were readily comprehended, although some of the
Indians varied very slightly in their translation.

When the Indians were asked whether, if they (the deaf-mutes) were to
come to the Ute country they would be scalped, the answer was given,
"Nothing would be done to you; but we would be friends," as follows:

The palm of the right hand was brushed toward the right over that of
the left (_nothing_), and the right hand made to grasp the palm of
the left, thumbs extended over and lying upon the back of the opposing

This was readily understood by the deaf-mutes.

Deaf-mute sign of milking a cow and drinking the milk was fully and
quickly understood.

The narrative of a boy going to an apple-tree, hunting for ripe fruit
and filling his pockets, being surprised by the owner and hit upon the
head with a stone, was much appreciated by the Indians and completely

A deaf-mute asked Alejandro how long it took him to come to Washington
from his country. He replied by placing the index and second finger of
the right hand astride the extended forefinger (others closed) of the
left; then elevating the fingers of the left hand (except thumb and
forefinger) back forward (_three_); then extending the fingers of both
hands and bringing them to a point, thumbs resting on palmar sides and
extended, placing the hands in front of the body, the tips opposite
the opposing wrist, and about four inches apart; then, revolving them
in imitation of _wheels_, he elevated the extended forefinger of
the left hand (_one_); then placing the extended flat hands, thumbs
touching, the backs sloping downward towards the respective right
and left sides, like the roof of a house; then repeating the sign of
wheels as in the preceding, after which the left hand was extended
before the body, fingers toward the right, horizontal, palm down and
slightly arched, the right wrist held under it, the fingers extending
upward beyond it, and quickly and repeatedly snapped upward (_smoke_);
the last three signs being _covered--wagon--smoke_, i.e., _cars_; then
elevating four fingers of the left hand (_four_).

_Translation_.--Traveled three days on horseback, one in a wagon, and
four in the cars.

The deaf-mutes understood all but the sign for wheel, which they make
as a large circle, with _one_ hand.

Another example: A deaf-mute pretended to hunt something; found birds,
took his bow and arrows and killed several.

This was fully understood.

A narrative given by Alejandro was also understood by the deaf-mutes,
to the effect that he made search for deer, shot one with a gun,
killed and skinned it, and packed it up.

It will be observed that many of the above signs admitted of and were
expressed by pantomime, yet that was not the case with all that were
made. President GALLAUDET made also some remarks in gesture which were
understood by the Indians, yet were not strictly pantomimic.

The opinion of all present at the test was that two intelligent mimes
would seldom fail of mutual understanding, their attention being
exclusively directed to the expression of thoughts by the means of
comprehension and reply equally possessed by both, without the mental
confusion of conventional sounds only intelligible to one.

A large collection has been made of natural deaf-mute signs, and also
of those more conventional, which have been collated with those of the
several tribes of Indians. Many of them show marked similarity, not
only in principle but often in detail.

       *       *       *       *       *

The result of the studies so far as prosecuted is that what is
called _the_ sign language of Indians is not, properly speaking, one
language, but that it and the gesture systems of deaf-mutes and of
all peoples constitute together one language--the gesture speech of
mankind--of which each system is a dialect.


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.


The conclusion reached from the researches made is to the effect
that before the changes wrought by the Columbian discovery the use of
gesture illustrated the remark of Quintilian upon the same subject
(l. xi, c. 3) that "_In tanta per omnes gentes nationesque linguæ
diversitate hic mihi omnium hominum communis sermo videatur._"

Quotations may be taken from some old authorities referring to widely
separated regions. The Indians of Tampa Bay, identified with the
Timucua, met by Cabeça de Vaca in 1528, were active in the use of
signs, and in his journeying for eight subsequent years, probably
through Texas and Mexico, he remarks that he passed through many
dissimilar tongues, but that he questioned and received the answers
of the Indians by signs "just as if they spoke our language and we
theirs." Michaëlius, writing in 1628, says of the Algonkins on or near
the Hudson River: "For purposes of trading as much was done by signs
with the thumb and fingers as by speaking." In Bossu's _Travels
through that part of North America formerly called Louisiana_,
_London_, 1771 (Forster's translation), an account is given of
Monsieur de Belle-Isle some years previously captured by the Atak-apa,
who remained with them two years and "conversed in their pantomimes
with them." He was rescued by Governor Bienville and was sufficiently
expert in the sign language to interpret between Bienville and the
tribe. In Bushmann's _Spuren_, p. 424, there is a reference to the
"Accocessaws on the west side of the Colorado, two hundred miles
southwest of Nacogdoches," who use thumb signs which they understand:
"_Theilen sich aber auch durch Daum-Zeichen mit, die sie alle

Omitting many authorities, and for brevity allowing a break in the
continuity of time, reference may be made to the statement in Major
Long's expedition of 1819, concerning the Arapahos, Kaiowas, Ietans,
and Cheyennes, to the effect that, being ignorant of each other's
languages, many of them when they met would communicate by means
of signs, and would thus maintain a conversation without the least
difficulty or interruption. A list of the tribes reported upon by
Prince Maximilian von Wied-Neuweid, in 1832-'34, appears elsewhere
in this paper. In Frémont's expedition of 1844 special and repeated
allusion is made to the expertness of the Pai-Utes in signs, which is
contradictory to the statement above made by correspondents. The same
is mentioned regarding a band of Shoshonis met near the summit of the
Sierra Nevada, and one of "Diggers," probably Chemehuevas, encountered
on a tributary of the Rio Virgen.

Ruxton, in his _Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains_, _New
York_, 1848, p. 278, sums up his experience with regard to the Western
tribes so well as to require quotation: "The language of signs is
so perfectly understood in the Western country, and the Indians
themselves are such admirable pantomimists, that, after a little use,
no difficulty whatever exists in carrying on a conversation by such
a channel; and there are few mountain men who are at a loss in
thoroughly understanding and making themselves intelligible by signs
alone, although they neither speak nor understand a word of the Indian

Passing to the correspondents of the writer from remote parts of
North America, it is important to notice that Mr. J.W. Powell, Indian
superintendent, reports the use of sign language among the Kutine,
and Mr. James Lenihan, Indian agent, among the Selish, both tribes
of British Columbia. The Very Rev. Edward Jacker, while contributing
information upon the present use of gesture language among the Ojibwas
of Lake Superior, mentions that it has fallen into comparative neglect
because for three generations they had not been in contact with
tribes of a different speech. Dr. Francis H. Atkins, acting assistant
surgeon, United States Army, in forwarding a contribution of signs
of the Mescalero Apaches remarks: "I think it probable that they have
used sign language rather less than many other Indians. They do not
seem to use it to any extent at home, and abroad the only tribes they
were likely to come into contact with were the Navajos, the Lipans
of old Mexico, and the Comanches. Probably the last have been almost
alone their visiting neighbors. They have also seen the Pueblos
a little, these appearing to be, like the Phoenicians of old, the
traders of this region." He also alludes to the effect of the Spanish,
or rather _lingua Mexicana_, upon all the Southern tribes and, indeed,
upon those as far north as the Utes, by which recourse to signs is now
rendered less necessary.

Before leaving this particular topic it is proper to admit that, while
there is not only recorded testimony to the past use of gesture
signs by several tribes of the Iroquoian and Algonkian families, but
evidence that it still remains, it is, however, noticeable that these
families when met by their first visitors do not appear to have often
impressed the latter with their reliance upon gesture language to the
same extent as has always been reported of the tribes now and formerly
found farther inland. An explanation may be suggested from the
fact that among those families there were more people dwelling near
together in communities speaking the same language, though with
dialectic peculiarities, than became known later in the farther West,
and not being nomadic their intercourse with strange tribes was less
individual and conversational. Some of the tribes, in especial the
Iroquois proper, were in a comparatively advanced social condition. A
Mohawk or Seneca would probably have repeated the arrogance of the old
Romans, whom in other respects they resembled, and compelled persons
of inferior tribes to learn his language if they desired to converse
with him, instead of resorting to the compromise of gesture
speech, which he had practiced before the prowess and policy of the
confederated Five Nations had gained supremacy and which was still
used for special purposes between the members of his own tribe. The
studies thus far pursued lead to the conclusion that at the time of
the discovery of North America all its inhabitants practiced sign
language, though with different degrees of expertness, and that
while under changed circumstances it was disused by some, others, in
especial those who after the acquisition of horses became nomads of
the Great Plains, retained and cultivated it to the high development
now attained, from which it will surely and speedily decay.


The most useful suggestion to persons interested in the collection
of signs is that they shall not too readily abandon the attempt to
discover recollections of them even among tribes long exposed
to European influence and officially segregated from others. The
instances where their existence, at first denied, has been ascertained
are important with reference to the theories advanced.

Rev. J. Owen Dorsey has furnished a considerable vocabulary of signs
finally procured from the Poncas, although, after residing among them
for years, with thorough familiarity with their language, and after
special and intelligent exertion to obtain some of their disused
gesture language, he had before reported it to be entirely forgotten.
A similar report was made by two missionaries among the Ojibwas,
though other trustworthy authorities have furnished a copious list
of signs obtained from that tribe. This is no imputation against
the missionaries, as in October, 1880, five intelligent Ojibwas from
Petoskey, Mich., told the writer that they had never heard of gesture
language. An interesting letter from Mr. B.O. Williams, sr., of
Owasso, Mich., explains the gradual decadence of signs used by the
Ojibwas in his recollection, embracing sixty years, as chiefly
arising from general acquaintance with the English language. Further
discouragement came from an Indian agent giving the decided statement,
after four years of intercourse with the Pai-Utes, that no such thing
as a communication by signs was known or even remembered by them,
which, however, was less difficult to bear because on the day of the
receipt of that well-intentioned missive some officers of the Bureau
of Ethnology were actually talking in signs with a delegation of that
very tribe of Indians then in Washington, from one of whom, Nátci, a
narrative printed in this paper (page 500), was received.

The report from missionaries, army officers, and travelers in Alaska
was unanimous against the existence of a sign language there until
Mr. Ivan Petroff, whose explorations had been more extensive, gave
the excellent exposition and dialogue now produced (see page 492).
Collections were also obtained from the Apaches and Zuñi, Pimas,
Papagos, and Maricopas, after agents and travelers had denied them to
be possessed of any knowledge on the subject.

For the reasons mentioned under the last heading, little hope was
entertained of procuring a collection from any of the Iroquoian stock,
but the intelligent and respectable chief of the Wyandots, Hénto (Gray
Eyes), came to the rescue. His tribe was moved from Ohio in July,
1843, to the territory now occupied by the State of Kansas, and
then again moved to Indian Territory, in 1870. He asserts that about
one-third of the tribe, the older portion, know many signs, a partial
list of which he gave with their descriptions. He was sure that those
signs were used before the removal from Ohio, and he saw them used
also by Shawnees, Delawares, and Senecas there.

Unanimous denial of any existence of sign language came from the
British provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and was followed by the
collection obtained by the Hon. Horatio Hale. His statement of the
time and manner of its being procured by him is not only interesting
but highly instructive:

"The aged Mohawk chief, from whom the information on this subject has
been obtained, is commonly known by his English name of John
Smoke Johnson. 'Smoke' is a rude version of his Indian name,
_Sakayenkwaraton_, which may be rendered 'Disappearing Mist.' It is
the term applied to the haze which rises in the morning of an autumn
day, and gradually passes away. Chief Johnson has been for many years
'speaker' of the great council of the Six Nations. In former times he
was noted as a warrior, and later has been esteemed one of the most
eloquent orators of his race. At the age of eighty-eight years he
retains much of his original energy. He is considered to have a better
knowledge of the traditions and ancient customs of his people than
any other person now living. This superior knowledge was strikingly
apparent in the course of the investigations which were made
respecting the sign language. Two other members of his tribe,
well-educated and very intelligent men of middle age, the one a chief
and government interpreter, the other a clergyman now settled over a
white congregation, had both been consulted on the subject and both
expressed the opinion that nothing of the sign language, properly
speaking, was known among the Six Nations. They were alike surprised
and interested when the old chief, in their presence, after much
consideration, gradually drew forth from the stores of his memory the
proofs of an accomplishment which had probably lain unused for more
than half a century."

One of the most conclusive instances of the general knowledge of
sign language, even when seldom used, was shown in the visit of five
Jicarilla Apaches to Washington in April, 1880, under the charge of
Dr. Benjamin Thomas, their agent. The latter said he had never heard
of any use of signs among them. But it happened that there was a
delegation of Absaroka (Crows) at the same hotel, and the two parties
from such widely separated regions, not knowing a word of each other's
language, immediately began to converse in signs, resulting in a
decided sensation. One of the Crows asked the Apaches whether they ate
horses, and it happening that the sign for _eating_ was misapprehended
for that known by the Apaches for _many_, the question was supposed
to be whether the latter had many horses, which was answered in
the affirmative. Thence ensued a misunderstanding on the subject of
hippophagy, which was curious both as showing the general use of
signs as a practice and the diversity in special signs for particular
meanings. The surprise of the agent at the unsuspected accomplishment
of his charges was not unlike that of a hen who, having hatched a
number of duck eggs, is perplexed at the instinct with which the brood
takes to the water.

The denial of the use of signs is often faithfully though erroneously
reported from the distinct statements of Indians to that effect. In
that, as in other matters, they are often provokingly reticent about
their old habits and traditions. Chief Ouray asserted to the writer,
as he also did to Colonel Dodge, that his people, the Utes, had not
the practice of sign talk, and had no use for it. This was much in
the proud spirit in which an Englishman would have made the same
statement, as the idea involved an accusation against the civilization
of his people, which he wished to appear highly advanced. Still more
frequently the Indians do not distinctly comprehend what is sought
to be obtained. Sometimes, also, the art, abandoned in general,
only remains in the memories of a few persons influenced by special
circumstances or individual fancy.

In this latter regard a comparison may be made with the old science
of heraldry, once of practical use and a necessary part of a liberal
education, of which hardly a score of persons in the United States
have any but the vague knowledge that it once existed; yet the united
memories of those persons could, in the absence of records, reproduce
all essential points on the subject.

Another cause for the mistaken denial in question must be mentioned.
When travelers or sojourners have become acquainted with signs in
any one place they may assume that those signs constitute _the_ sign
language, and if they afterwards meet tribes not at once recognizing
those signs, they remove all difficulty about the theory of a "one and
indivisible" sign language by simply asserting that the tribes so met
do not understand _the_ sign language, or perhaps that they do not
use signs at all. This precise assertion has, as above mentioned, been
made regarding the Utes and Apaches. Of course, also, Indians who have
not been brought into sufficient contact with certain tribes using
different signs, for the actual trial which would probably result
in mutual comprehension, tell the travelers the same story. It is
the venerable one of "[Greek: aglossos]," "Njemez," "barbarian," and
"stammering," above noted, applied to the hands instead of the tongue.
Thus an observer possessed by a restrictive theory will find no signs
where they are in plenty, while another determined on the universality
and identity of sign language can, as elsewhere explained, produce,
from perhaps the same individuals, evidence in his favor from the
apparently conclusive result of successful communication.


In connection with any theory it is important to inquire into the
permanence of particular gesture signs to express a special idea or
object when the system has been long continued. Many examples have
been given above showing that the gestures of classic times are still
in use by the modern Italians with the same signification; indeed that
the former on Greek vases or reliefs or in Herculanean bronzes
can only be interpreted by the latter. In regard to the signs of
instructed deaf-mutes in this country there appears to be a permanence
beyond expectation. Mr. Edmund Booth, a pupil of the Hartford
Institute half a century ago, and afterwards a teacher, says in the
"_Annals_" for April, 1880, that the signs used by teachers and pupils
at Hartford, Philadelphia, Washington, Council Bluffs, and Omaha were
nearly the same as he had learned. "We still adhere to the old sign
for President from Monroe's three-cornered hat, and for governor we
designate the cockade worn by that dignitary on grand occasions three
generations ago."

The specific comparisons made, especially by Dr. Washington Matthews
and Dr. W.O. Boteler, of the signs reported by the Prince of Wied
in 1832 with those now used by the same tribes from whom he obtained
them, show a remarkable degree of permanency in many of those that
were so clearly described by the Prince as to be proper subjects of
any comparison. If they have persisted for half a century their age
is probably much greater. In general it is believed that signs,
constituting as they do a natural mode of expression, though enlarging
in scope as new ideas and new objects require to be included and
though abbreviated as hereinafter explained, do not readily change in
their essentials.

The writer has before been careful to explain that he does not present
any signs as precisely those of primitive man, not being so carried
away by enthusiasm as to suppose them possessed of immutability and
immortality not found in any other mode of human utterance. Yet such
signs as are generally prevalent among Indian tribes, and also in
other parts of the world, must be of great antiquity. The use of
derivative meanings to a sign only enhances this presumption. At
first there might not appear to be any connection between the ideas of
_same_ and _wife_, expressed by the sign of horizontally extending
the two forefingers side by side. The original idea was doubtless that
given by the Welsh captain in Shakspere's Henry V: "'Tis so like as
my fingers is to my fingers," and from this similarity comes "equal,"
"companion," and subsequently the close life-companion "wife." The
sign is used in each of these senses by different Indian tribes,
and sometimes the same tribe applies it in all of the senses as
the context determines. It appears also in many lands with all the
significations except that of "wife." It is proper here to mention
that the suggestion of several correspondents that the Indian sign as
applied to "wife" refers to "lying together" is rendered improbable
by the fact that when the same tribes desire to express the sexual
relation of marriage it is gestured otherwise. Many signs but little
differentiated were unstable, while others that have proved the best
modes of expression have survived as definite and established. Their
prevalence and permanence being mainly determined by the experience of
their utility, it would be highly interesting to ascertain how long a
time was required for a distinctly new conception or execution to gain
currency, become "the fashion," so to speak, over a large part of the
continent, and to be supplanted by a new "mode." A note may be made in
this connection of the large number of diverse signs for _horse_, all
of which must have been invented within a comparatively recent period,
and the small variation in the signs for _dog_, which are probably


Even when the specific practice of sign language has been generally
discontinued for more than one generation, either from the adoption
of a jargon or from the common use of the tongue of the conquering
English, French, or Spanish, some of the gestures formerly employed
as substitutes for words may survive as a customary accompaniment to
oratory or impassioned conversation, and, when ascertained, should be
carefully noted. An example, among many, may be found in the fact
that the now civilized Muskoki or Creeks, as mentioned by Rev. H.F.
Buckner, when speaking of the height of children or women, illustrate
their words by holding their hands at the proper elevation, palm up;
but when describing the height of "soulless" animals or inanimate
objects, they hold the palm downward. This, when correlated with the
distinctive signs of other Indians, is an interesting case of the
survival of a practice which, so far as yet reported, the oldest men
of the tribe, now living only remember to have once existed. It is
probable that a collection of such distinctive gestures among the most
civilized Indians would reproduce enough of their ancient system to be
valuable, while possibly the persistent inquirer might in his search
discover some of its surviving custodians even among Chabta or
Cheroki, Innuit or Abnaki, Klamath or Nutka.


The general report that there is but one sign language in North
America, any deviation from which is either blunder, corruption, or a
dialect in the nature of provincialism, may be examined in reference
to some of the misconceived facts which gave it origin and credence.
It may not appear to be necessary that such examination should be
directed to any mode of collecting and comparing signs which would
amount to their distortion. It is useful, however, to explain that
distortion would result from following the views of a recent essayist,
who takes the ground that the description of signs should be made
according to a "mean" or average. There can be no philosophic
consideration of signs according to a "mean" of observations. The
proper object is to ascertain the radical or essential part as
distinct from any individual flourish or mannerism on the one hand,
and from a conventional or accidental abbreviation on the other; but
a mere average will not accomplish that object. If the hand, being
in any position whatever, is, according to five observations, moved
horizontally one foot to the right, and, according to five other
observations, moved one foot horizontally to the left, the "mean"
or resultant will be that it is stationary, which sign does not
correspond with any of the ten observations. So if six observations
give it a rapid motion of one foot to the right and five a rapid
motion of the same distance to the left, the mean or resultant would
be somewhat difficult to express, but perhaps would be a slow movement
to the right for an inch or two, having certainly no resemblance
either in essentials or accidents to any of the signs actually
observed. In like manner the tail of the written letter "_y_" (which,
regarding its mere formation, might be a graphic sign) may have in
the chirography of several persons various degrees of slope, may be
a straight line, or looped, and may be curved on either side; but a
"mean" taken from the several manuscripts would leave the unfortunate
letter without any tail whatever, or travestied as a "_u_" with an
amorphous flourish. A definition of the radical form of the letter or
sign by which it can be distinguished from any other letter or sign
is a very different proceeding. Therefore, if a "mean" or resultant of
any number of radically different signs to express the same object or
idea, observed either among several individuals of the same tribe or
among different tribes, is made to represent those signs, they are
all mutilated and ignored as distinctive signs, though the result may
possibly be made intelligible in practice, according to principles
mentioned in the present paper. The expedient of a "mean" may be
practically useful in the formation of a mere interpreter's jargon,
but it elucidates no principle. It is also convenient for any one
determined to argue for the uniformity of sign language as against the
variety in unity apparent in all the realms of nature. On the "mean"
principle, he only needs to take his two-foot rule and arithmetical
tables and make all signs his signs and his signs all signs. Of course
they are uniform, because he has made them so after the brutal example
of Procrustes.

In this connection it is proper to urge a warning that a mere sign
talker is often a bad authority upon principles and theories. He
may not be liable to the satirical compliment of Dickens's "brave
courier," who "understood all languages indifferently ill"; but many
men speak some one language fluently, and yet are wholly unable to
explain or analyze its words and forms so as to teach it to another
person, or even to give an intelligent summary or classification
of their own knowledge. What such a sign talker has learned is by
memorizing, as a child may learn English, and though both the sign
talker and the child may be able to give some separate items useful to
a philologist or foreigner, such items are spoiled when colored by the
attempt of ignorance to theorize. A German who has studied English
to thorough mastery, except in the mere facility of speech, may in
a discussion upon some of its principles be contradicted by any mere
English speaker, who insists upon his superior knowledge because he
actually speaks the language and his antagonist does not, but the
student will probably be correct and the talker wrong. It is an old
adage about oral speech that a man who understands but one language
understands none. The science of a sign talker possessed by a
restrictive theory is like that of Mirabeau, who was greater as an
orator than as a philologist, and who on a visit to England gravely
argued that there was something seriously wrong in the British mind
because the people would persist in saying "give me some bread"
instead of "_donnez-moi du pain_," which was so much easier and more
natural. A designedly ludicrous instance to the same effect was Hood's
arraignment of the French because they called their mothers "mares"
and their daughters "fillies." It is necessary to take with caution
any statement from a person who, having memorized or hashed up any
number of signs, large or small, has decided in his conceit that those
he uses are the only genuine Simon Pure, to be exclusively employed
according to his direction, all others being counterfeits or blunders.
His vocabulary has ceased to give the signs of any Indian or body of
Indians whatever, but becomes his own, the proprietorship of which he
fights for as if secured by letters-patent. When a sign is contributed
by one of the present collaborators, which such a sign talker has not
before seen or heard of, he will at once condemn it as bad, just as a
United States Minister to Vienna, who had been nursed in the mongrel
Dutch of Berks County, Pennsylvania, declared that the people of
Germany spoke very bad German.

An argument for the uniformity of the signs of our Indians is derived
from the fact that those used by any of them are generally understood
by others. But signs may be understood without being identical with
any before seen. The entribal as well as intertribal exercise of
Indians for generations in gesture language has naturally produced
great skill both in expression and reception, so as to render them
measurably independent of any prior mutual understanding, or what in
a system of signals is called preconcert. Two accomplished army
signalists can, after sufficient trial, communicate without having
any code in common between them, one being mutually devised, and those
specially designed for secrecy are often deciphered. So, if any one
of the more conventional signs is not quickly comprehended, an Indian
skilled in the principle of signs resorts to another expression of his
flexible art, perhaps reproducing the gesture unabbreviated and made
more graphic, perhaps presenting either the same or another conception
or quality of the same object or idea by an original portraiture.

An impression of the community of signs is the more readily made
because explorers and officials are naturally brought into contact
more closely with those individuals of the tribes visited who are
experts in sign language than with their other members, and those
experts, on account of their skill as interpreters, are selected as
guides to accompany the visitors. The latter also seek occasion to
be present when signs are used, whether with or without words, in
intertribal councils, and then the same class of experts comprises
the orators, for long exercise in gesture speech has made the Indian
politicians, with no special effort, masters of the art acquired by
our public speakers only after laborious apprenticeship. The whole
theory and practice of sign language being that all who understand its
principles can make themselves mutually intelligible, the fact of the
ready comprehension and response among all the skilled gesturers gives
the impression of a common code. Furthermore, if the explorer learn
to employ with ingenuity the signs used by any of the tribes, he will
probably be understood in any other by the same class of persons
who will surround him in the latter, thereby confirming him in the
"common" theory. Those of the tribe who are less skilled, but who are
not noticed, might be unable to catch the meaning of signs which have
not been actually taught to them, just as ignorant persons among us
cannot derive any sense from newly-coined words or those strange
to their habitual vocabulary, which, though never before heard,
linguistic scholars would instantly understand and might afterward

It is also common experience that when Indians find that a sign which
has become conventional among their tribe is not understood by an
interlocutor, a self-expressive sign is substituted for it, from
which a visitor may form the impression that there are no conventional
signs. It may likewise occur that the self-expressive sign substituted
will be met with by a visitor in several localities, different
Indians, in their ingenuity, taking the best and the same means of
reaching the exotic intelligence.

There is some evidence that where sign language is now found among
Indian tribes it has become more uniform than ever before, simply
because many tribes have for some time past been forced to dwell near
together at peace. A collection was obtained in the spring of 1880, at
Washington, from a united delegation of the Kaiowa, Comanche, Apache,
and Wichita tribes, which was nearly uniform, but the individuals who
gave the signs had actually lived together at or near Anadarko, Indian
Territory, for a considerable time, and the resulting uniformity of
their signs might either be considered as a jargon or as the natural
tendency to a compromise for mutual understanding--the unification so
often observed in oral speech, coming under many circumstances out of
former heterogeneity. The rule is that dialects precede languages and
that out of many dialects comes one language. It may be found that
other individuals of those same tribes who have from any cause
not lived in the union explained may have signs for the same ideas
different from those in the collection above mentioned. This is
probable, because some signs of other representatives of one of the
component bodies--Apache--have actually been reported differing from
those for the same ideas given by the Anadarko group. The uniformity
of the signs of those Arapahos, Cheyennes, and Sioux who have been
secluded for years at one particular reservation, so far as could be
done by governmental power, from the outer world, was used in argument
by a correspondent; but some collected signs of other Cheyennes and
Sioux differ, not only from those on the reservation, but among
each other. Therefore the signs used in common by the tribes at
the reservation seem to have been modified and to a certain extent

The result of the collation and analysis of the large number of signs
collected is that in numerous instances there is an entire discrepancy
between the signs made by different bodies of Indians to express
the same idea, and that if any of these are regarded as rigidly
determinate, or even conventional with a limited range, and used
without further devices, they will fail in conveying the desired
impression to any one unskilled in gesture as an art, who had not
formed the same precise conception or been instructed in the arbitrary
motion. Few of the gestures that are found in current use are, in
their origin, conventional. They are only portions, more or less
elaborate, of obvious natural pantomime, and those proving efficient
to convey most successfully at any time the several ideas became
the most widely adopted, liable, however, to be superseded by more
appropriate conceptions and delineations. The skill of any tribe and
the copiousness of its signs are proportioned first to the necessity
for their use, and secondly to the accidental ability of the
individuals in it who act as custodians and teachers, so that the
several tribes at different times vary in their degree of proficiency,
and therefore both the precise mode of semiotic expression and the
amount of its general use are always fluctuating. Sign language as a
product of evolution has been developed rather than invented, and yet
it seems probable that each of the separate signs, like the several
steps that lead to any true invention, had a definite origin arising
out of some appropriate occasion, and the same sign may in this
manner have had many independent origins due to identity in the
circumstances, or if lost, may have been reproduced.

The process is precisely the same as that observed among deaf-mutes.
One of those unfortunate persons, living with his speaking relatives,
may invent signs which the latter are taught to understand, though
strangers sometimes will not, because they may be by no means the
fittest expressions. Should a dozen or more deaf-mutes, possessed
only of such crude signs, come together, they will be able at first to
communicate only on a few common subjects, but the number of those and
the general scope of expression will be continually enlarged. Each one
commences with his own conception and his own presentment of it,
but the universality of the medium used makes it sooner or later
understood. This independent development, thus creating diversity,
often renders the first interchange of thought between strangers
slow, for the signs must be self-interpreting. There can be no natural
universal language which is absolute and arbitrary. When used without
convention, as sign language alone of all modes of utterance can be,
it must be tentative, experimental, and flexible. The mutes will also
resort to the invention of new signs for new ideas as they
arise, which will be made intelligible, if necessary, through the
illustration and definition given by signs formerly adopted, so that
the fittest signs will be evolved, after rivalry and trial, and will
survive. But there may not always be such a preponderance of fitness
that all but one of the rival signs shall die out, and some, being
equal in value to express the same idea or object, will continue to
be used indifferently, or as a matter of individual taste, without
confusion. A multiplication of the numbers confined together, either
of deaf-mutes or of Indians whose speech is diverse, will not decrease
the resulting uniformity, though it will increase both the copiousness
and the precision of the vocabulary. The Indian use of signs, though
maintained by linguistic diversities, is not coincident with any
linguistic boundaries. The tendency is to their uniformity among
groups of people who from any cause are brought into contact with each
other while still speaking different languages. The longer and closer
such contact, while no common tongue is adopted, the greater will be
the uniformity of signs.

Colonel Dodge takes a middle ground with regard to the identity of
the signs used by our Indians, comparing it with the dialects and
provincialisms of the English language, as spoken in England, Ireland,
Scotland, and Wales. But those dialects are the remains of actually
diverse languages, which to some speakers have not become integrated.
In England alone the provincial dialects are traceable as the legacies
of Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and Danes, with a varying amount of Norman
influence. A thorough scholar in the composite tongue, now
called English, will be able to understand all the dialects and
provincialisms of English in the British Isles, but the uneducated
man of Yorkshire is not able to communicate readily with the equally
uneducated man of Somersetshire. This is the true distinction to
be made. A thorough sign talker would be able to talk with several
Indians who have no signs in common, and who, if their knowledge of
signs were only memorized, could not communicate together. So also, as
an educated Englishman will understand the attempts of a foreigner to
speak in very imperfect and broken English, a good Indian sign expert
will apprehend the feeble efforts of a tyro in gestures. But Colonel
Dodge's conclusion that there is but one true Indian sign language,
just as there is but one true English language, is not proved unless
it can be shown that a much larger proportion of the Indians who
use signs at all, than present researches show to be the case, use
identically the same signs to express the same ideas. It would also
seem necessary to the parallel that the signs so used should be
absolute, if not arbitrary, as are the words of an oral language, and
not independent of preconcert and self-interpreting at the instant of
their invention or first exhibition, as all true signs must originally
have been and still measurably remain. All Indians, as all gesturing
men, have many natural signs in common and many others which are now
conventional. The conventions by which the latter were established
occurred during long periods, when the tribes forming them were
so separated as to have established altogether diverse customs and
mythologies, and when the several tribes were with such different
environment as to have formed varying conceptions needing appropriate
sign expression. The old error that the North American Indians
constitute one homogeneous race is now abandoned. Nearly all the
characteristics once alleged as segregating them from the rest of
mankind have proved not to belong to the whole of the pre-Columbian
population, but only to those portions of it first explored. The
practice of scalping is not now universal, even among the tribes
least influenced by civilization, if it ever was, and therefore the
cultivation of the scalp-lock separated from the rest of the hair
of the head, or with the removal of all other hair, is not a general
feature of their appearance. The arrangement of the hair is so
different among tribes as to be one of the most convenient modes for
their pictorial distinction. The war paint, red in some tribes, was
black in others; the mystic rites of the calumet were in many regions
unknown, and the use of wampum was by no means extensive. The wigwam
is not the type of native dwellings, which show as many differing
forms as those of Europe. In color there is great variety, and even
admitting that the term "race" is properly applied, no competent
observer would characterize it as red, still less copper-colored. Some
tribes differ from each other in all respects nearly as much as either
of them do from the lazzaroni of Naples, and more than either do
from certain tribes of Australia. It would therefore be expected,
as appears to be the case, that the conventional signs of different
stocks and regions differ as do the words of English, French, and
German, which, nevertheless, have sprung from the same linguistic
roots. No one of those languages is a dialect of any of the others;
and although the sign systems of the several tribes have greater
generic unity with less specific variety than oral languages, no one
of them is necessarily the dialect of any other.

Instead, therefore, of admitting, with present knowledge, that the
signs of our Indians are "identical" and "universal," it is the more
accurate statement that the systematic attempt to convey meaning by
signs is universal among the Indians of the Plains, and those still
comparatively unchanged by civilization. Its successful execution is
by an _art_, which, however it may have commenced as an instinctive
mental process, has been cultivated, and consists in actually pointing
out objects in sight not only for designation, but for application and
predication, and in suggesting others to the mind by action and the
airy forms produced by action. To insist that sign language is uniform
were to assert that it is perfect--"That faultless monster that the
world ne'er saw."


Examination into the identity of signs is complicated by the fact that
in the collection and description of Indian signs there is danger lest
the civilized understanding of them may be mistaken or forced. The
liability to those errors is much increased when the collections
are not taken directly from the Indians themselves, but are given
as obtained at second-hand from white traders, trappers, and
interpreters, who, through misconception in the beginning and their
own introduction or modification of gestures, have produced a jargon
in the sign, as well as in the oral intercourse. An Indian talking in
signs, either to a white man or to another Indian using signs which he
never saw before, catches the meaning of that which is presented and
adapts himself to it, at least for the occasion. Even when he finds
that his interlocutor insists upon understanding and presenting a
certain sign in a manner and with a significance widely different from
those to which he has been accustomed, it is within the very nature,
tentative and elastic, of the gesture art--both performers being on an
equality--that he should adopt the one that seems to be recognized
or that is pressed upon him, as with much greater difficulty he
has learned and adopted many foreign terms used with whites before
attempting to acquire their language, but never with his own race.
Thus there is now, and perhaps always has been, what may be called a
_lingua-franca_, in the sign vocabulary. It is well known that all the
tribes of the Plains having learned by experience that white visitors
expect to receive certain signs really originating with the latter,
use them in their intercourse just as they sometimes do the words
"squaw" and "papoose," corruptions of the Algonkian, and once as
meaningless in the present West as the English terms "woman" and
"child," but which the first pioneers, having learned them on the
Atlantic coast, insisted upon treating as generally intelligible.

The perversity in attaching through preconceived views a wrong
significance to signs is illustrated by an anecdote found in several
versions and in several languages, but repeated as a veritable Scotch
legend by Duncan Anderson, esq., Principal of the Glasgow Institution
for the Deaf and Dumb, when he visited Washington in 1853.

King James I. of England, desiring to play a trick upon the Spanish
ambassador, a man of great erudition, but who had a crotchet in his
head upon sign language, informed him that there was a distinguished
professor of that science in the university at Aberdeen. The
ambassador set out for that place, preceded by a letter from the King
with instructions to make the best of him. There was in the town
one Geordy, a butcher, blind of one eye, a fellow of much wit and
drollery. Geordy is told to play the part of a professor, with the
warning not to speak a word; is gowned, wigged, and placed in a chair
of state, when the ambassador is shown in and they are left alone
together. Presently the nobleman came out greatly pleased with the
experiment, claiming that his theory was demonstrated. He said: "When
I entered the room I raised one finger to signify there is one God. He
replied by raising two fingers to signify that this Being rules
over two worlds, the material and the spiritual. Then I raised three
fingers, to say there are three persons in the Godhead. He then
closed his fingers, evidently to say these three are one." After this
explanation on the part of the nobleman the professors sent for the
butcher and asked him what took place in the recitation room. He
appeared very angry and said: "When the crazy man entered the room
where I was he raised one finger, as much as to say I had but one eye,
and I raised two fingers to signify that I could see out of my one eye
as well as he could out of both of his. When he raised three fingers,
as much as to say there were but three eyes between us, I doubled up
my fist, and if he had not gone out of that room in a hurry I would
have knocked him down."

The readiness with which a significance may be found in signs when
none whatever exists is also shown in the great contest narrated
by Rabelais between Panurge and the English philosopher, Thaumast,
commencing as follows:

"Everybody then taking heed in great silence, the Englishman lifted
his two hands separately, clinching the ends of his fingers in the
form that at Chion they call the fowl's tail. Then he struck them,
together by the nails four times. Then he opened them and struck one
flat upon the other with a clash once; after which, joining them as
above, he struck twice, and four times afterwards, on opening them.
Then he placed them, joined and extended the one above the other,
seeming to pray God devoutly.

"Panurge suddenly moved his right hand in the air, placed the
right-hand thumb at the right-hand nostril, holding the four fingers
stretched out and arrayed in parallel lines with the point of the
nose; shutting the left eye entirely, and winking with the right,
making a profound depression with eyebrow and eyelid. Next he raised
aloft the left with a strong clinching and extension of the four
fingers and elevation of the thumb, and held it in line directly
corresponding with the position of the right, the distance between the
two being a cubit and a half. This done, in the like manner he lowered
towards the ground both hands, and finally held them in the midst as
if aiming straight at the Englishman's nose."

And so on at great length. The whole performance of Panurge was to
save the credit of Pantagruel by making fantastic and mystic motions
in pretended disputation with the signs given by Thaumast in good
faith. Yet the latter confessed himself conquered, and declared that
he had derived inestimable information from the purposely meaningless
gestures. The satire upon the diverse interpretations of the gestures
of Naz-de-cabre (_Pantagruel_, Book III, chap. xx) is to the same
effect, showing it to have been a favorite theme with Rabelais.


A lesson was learned by the writer as to the abbreviation of signs,
and the possibility of discovering the original meaning of those most
obscure, from the attempts of a Cheyenne to convey the idea of _old
man_. He held his right hand forward, bent at elbow, fingers and thumb
closed sidewise. This not conveying any sense, he found a long stick,
bent his back, and supported his frame in a tottering step by the
stick held, as was before only imagined. Here at once was decrepit age
dependent on a staff. The principle of abbreviation or reduction may
be illustrated by supposing a person, under circumstances forbidding
the use of the voice, seeking to call attention to a particular bird
on a tree, and failing to do so by mere indication. Descriptive signs
are resorted to, perhaps suggesting the bill and wings of the bird,
its manner of clinging to the twig with its feet, its size by seeming
to hold it between the hands, its color by pointing to objects of the
same hue; perhaps by the action of shooting into a tree, picking up
the supposed fallen game, and plucking feathers. These are continued
until understood, and if one sign or combination of signs proves to
be successful it will be repeated on the next occasion by both persons
engaged, and after becoming familiar between them and others will be
more and more abbreviated. Conventionality in signs largely consists
in the form of abbreviation which is agreed upon. When the signs of
the Indians have from ideographic form thus become demotic, they may
be called conventional, but still not arbitrary. In them, as in all
his actions, man had at the first a definite meaning or purpose,
together with method in their subsequent changes or modifications.

Colonel Dodge gives a clear account of the manner in which an
established sign is abbreviated in practice, as follows: "There are an
almost infinite number and variety of abbreviations. For instance, to
tell a man to 'talk,' the most common formal sign is made thus: Hold
the right hand in front of, the back near, the mouth, end of thumb and
index-finger joined into an 'O,' the outer fingers closed on the palm;
throw the hand forward sharply by a quick motion of the wrist, and at
the same time flip forward the index-finger. This may be done once or
several times.

"The formal sign to 'cease' or 'stop doing' anything is made by
bringing the two hands open and held vertically in front of the
body, one behind the other, then quickly pass one upward, the other
downward, simulating somewhat the motion of the limbs of a pair
of scissors, meaning 'cut it off.' The latter sign is made in
conversation in a variety of ways, but habitually with one hand only.

"The formal sign to 'stop talking' is first to make the formal sign
for 'talk,' then the formal sign for 'cut;' but this is commonly
abbreviated by first making the formal sign for 'talk' with the
right hand, and then immediately passing the same hand, open, fingers
extended, downward across and in front of the mouth, 'talk, cut.'

"But though the Plains Indian, if asked for the sign to 'stop
talking,' will properly give the sign either in its extended or
abbreviated form as above, he in conversation abbreviates it so much
further that the sign loses almost all resemblance to its former self.
Whatever the position of the hand, a turn of the wrist, a flip of the
forefinger, and a turn, of the wrist back to its original position is
fully equivalent to the elaborate signs."

It may be added that nearly every sign which to be intelligibly
described and as exhibited in full requires the use of both hands, is
outlined, with one hand only, by skillful Indians gesturing between
themselves, so as to be clearly understood between them. Two Indians,
whose blankets are closely held to their bodies by the left hand,
which is necessarily rendered unavailable for gesture, will severally
thrust the right from beneath the protecting folds and converse
freely. The same is true when one hand of each holds the bridle of a

The Italian signs are also made in such abbreviated forms as to be
little more than hinted at, requiring a perfect knowledge of the full
and original form before the slight and often furtive suggestion of it
can be understood. Deaf-mutes continually seek by tacit agreement to
shorten their signs more and more. While the original of each may be
preserved in root or stem, it is only known to the proficient, as
the root or stem of a plant enables botanists, but no others, to
distinguish it. Thus the natural character of signs, the universal
significance which is their peculiarly distinctive feature, may
and often does become lost. From the operation of the principle of
independent and individual abbreviation inherent in all sign language,
without any other cause, that of the Indians must in one or two
generations have become diverse, even if it had in fact originated
from one tribe in which all conceptions and executions were absolute.


There has been much discussion on the question whether gesture signs
were originally invented, in the strict sense of that term, or whether
they result from a natural connection between them and the ideas
represented by them, that is whether they are conventional or
instinctive. Cardinal Wiseman (_Essays_, III, 537) thinks that they
are of both characters; but referring particularly to the Italian
signs and the proper mode of discovering their meaning, observes that
they are used primarily with words and from the usual accompaniment of
certain phrases. "For these the gestures become substitutes, and then
by association express all their meaning, even when used alone."
This would be the process only where systematic gestures had never
prevailed or had been so disused as to be forgotten, and were adopted
after elaborate oral phrases and traditional oral expressions had
become common. In other parts of this paper it is suggested that
conventionality chiefly consists in abbreviation, and that signs are
originally self-interpreting, independent of words, and therefore in a
certain sense instinctive.

Another form of the above query, having the same intent, is whether
signs are arbitrary or natural. The answer will depend upon what the
observer considers to be natural to himself. A common sign among
both deaf-mutes and Indians for _woman_ consists in designating the
arrangement of the hair, but such a represented arrangement of
hair familiar to the gesturer as had never been seen by the person
addressed would not seem "natural" to the latter. It would be
classed as arbitrary, and could not be understood without context
or explanation, indeed without translation such as is required from
foreign oral speech. Signs most naturally, that is, appropriately,
expressing a conception of the thing signified, are first adopted and
afterwards modified by circumstances of environment, so as to appear,
without full understanding, conventional and arbitrary, yet they
are as truly "natural" as the signs for hearing, seeing, eating, and
drinking, which continue all over the world as they were first formed
because there is no change in those operations.


While there is not sufficient evidence that any exhibition of sign
language in any tribe is a dialect derived or corrupted from an
ascertained language in any other tribe, it still is convenient to
consider the different forms appearing in different tribes as several
dialects (in the usual mode of using that term) of a common language.
Every sign talker necessarily has, to some extent, a dialect of his
own. No one can use sign language without original invention and
without modification of the inventions of others; and all such new
inventions and modifications have a tendency to spread and influence
the production of other variations. The diversities thus occasioned
are more distinct than that mere individuality of style or expression
which may be likened to the differing chirography of men who write,
although such individual characteristics also constitute an important
element of confusion to the inexperienced observer. In differing
handwriting there is always an attempt or desire to represent an
alphabet which is essentially determinate, but no such fixedness or
limited condition of form restricts gesture speech.

Those variations and diversities of form and connected significance
specially calling for notice may be: 1st. In the nature of synonyms.
2d. Substantially the same form with such different signification as
not to be synonymous. 3d. Difference in significance produced by
such slight variation in form as to be, to a careless observer,


In this division are placed signs of differing forms which are used
in senses so nearly the same as to have only a slight shade of
distinction, or sometimes to be practically interchangeable. The
comprehensive and metaphorical character of signs renders more of them
interchangeable than is the case with words; still, like words,
some signs with essential resemblance of meaning have partial and
subordinate differences made by etymology or usage. Doubtless signs
are purposely selected as delineating the most striking outlines of
an object, or the most characteristic features of an action; but
different individuals, and likewise different bodies of people, would
not always agree in the selection of those outlines and features.
Taking the illustration of the attempt to invent a sign for _bird_,
before used, any one of a dozen, signs might have been agreed upon
with equal appropriateness, and, in fact, a number have been so
selected by several individuals and tribes, each one, therefore, being
a synonym of the other. Another example of this is in the signs for
_deer_, designated by various modes of expressing fleetness, by his
gait when not in rapid motion, by the shape of his horns, by the
color of his tail, and sometimes by combinations of several of those
characteristics. Each of these signs may be indefinitely abbreviated,
and therefore create indefinite diversity. Another illustration, in
which an association of ideas is apparent, is in the upward raising
of the index in front of and above the head, which means _above_
(sometimes containing the religious conception of _heaven, great
spirit_, &c.), and also _now, to-day_. Not unfrequently these several
signs to express the same ideas are used interchangeably by the same
people, and some one of the duplicates or triplicates may have been
noticed by separate observers to the exclusion of the others. On
the other hand, they might all have been noticed, but each one among
different bodies. Thus confusing reports would be received, which
might either be erroneous in deducing the prevalence of particular
signs or the opposite. Sometimes the synonym may be recognized as an
imported sign, used with another tribe known to affect it. Sometimes
the diverse signs to express the same thing are only different trials
at reaching the intelligence of the person addressed. An account is
given by Lieut. Heber M. Creel, Seventh Cavalry, U.S.A., of an old
Cheyenne squaw, who made about twenty successive and original signs
to a recruit of the Fourth Cavalry to let him know that she wanted to
obtain out of a wagon a piece of cloth belonging to her, to wipe out
an oven preparatory to baking bread. Thus by tradition, importation,
recent invention, or from all these causes together, several signs
entirely distinct are produced for the same object or action.

This class is not intended to embrace the cases common both to sign
and oral language where the same sign has several meanings, according
to the expression, whether facial or vocal, and the general manner
accompanying its delivery. The sign given, for "stop talking" on page
339 may be used in simple acquiescence, "very well," "all right!" or
for comprehension, "I understand;" or in impatience, "you have talked
enough!" which may be carried further to express actual anger in the
violent "shut up!" But all these grades of thought accompany the idea
of a cessation of talk. In like manner an acquaintance of the writer
asking the same favor (a permission to go through their camp) of
two chiefs, was answered by both with the sign generally used for
repletion after eating, viz., the index and thumb turned toward the
body, passed up from the abdomen to the throat; but in the one case,
being made with a gentle motion and pleasant look, it meant, "I am
satisfied," and granted the request; in the other, made violently,
with the accompaniment of a truculent frown, it read, "I have had
enough of that!" But these two meanings might also have been expressed
by different intonations of the English word "enough." The class of
signs now in view is better exemplified by the French word _souris_,
which is spelled and pronounced precisely the same with the two wholly
distinct and independent significations of _smile_ and _mouse_. From
many examples may be selected the Omaha sign for _think, guess_, which
is precisely the same as that of the Absaroka, Shoshoni and Banak for
_brave_, see page 414. The context alone, both of the sign and the
word, determines in what one of its senses it is at the time used, but
it is not discriminated merely by a difference in expression.

It would have been very remarkable if precisely the same sign were not
used by different or even the same persons or bodies of people with
wholly distinct significations. The graphic forms for objects and
ideas are much more likely to be coincident than sound is for similar
expressions, yet in all oral languages the same precise sound is used
for utterly diverse meanings. The first conception of many different
objects must have been the same. It has been found; indeed, that
the homophony of words and the homomorphy of ideographic pictures is
noticeable in opposite significations, the conceptions arising from
the opposition itself. The differentiation in portraiture or accent is
a subsequent and remedial step not taken until after the confusion
has been observed and become inconvenient. Such confusion and
contradiction would only be eliminated if sign language were
absolutely perfect as well as absolutely universal.


In this class are included those signs conveying different ideas, and
really different in form of execution as well as in conception, yet
in which the difference in form is so slight as practically to require
attention and discrimination. An example from oral speech may be
found in the English word "desert," which, as pronounced "des'-ert" or
"desert'," and in a slightly changed form, "dessert," has such widely
varying significations. These distinctions relating to signs require
graphic illustration.

[Illustration: Fig. 112.]

[Illustration: Fig. 113.]

The sign made by the Dakota, Hidatsa, and several other tribes,
for _tree_ is made by holding the right hand before the body, back
forward, fingers and thumb separated, then pushing it slightly upward,
Fig. 112. That for _grass_ is the same made near the ground; that for
_grow_ is made like _grass_, though instead of holding the back of
the hand near the ground the hand is pushed upward in an interrupted
manner, Fig. 113. For _smoke_, the hand (with the back down, fingers
pointing upward as in _grow_) is thrown upward several times from the
same place instead of continuing the whole motion upward. Frequently
the fingers are thrown forward from under the thumb with each
successive upward motion. For _fire_, the hand is employed as in the
gesture for _smoke_, but the motion is frequently more waving, and in
other cases made higher from the ground.

The sign for _rain_, made by the Shoshoni, Apache, and other Indians,
is by holding the hand (or hands) at the height of and before the
shoulder, fingers pendent, palm down, then pushing it downward a short
distance, Fig. 114. That for _heat_ is the same, with the difference
that the hand is held above the head and thrust downward toward the
forehead; that for _to weep_ is made by holding the hand as in _rain_,
and the gesture made from the eye downward over the cheek, back of the
fingers nearly touching the face.

[Illustration: Fig. 114.]

The common sign for _sun_ is made by bringing the tips of the thumb
and index together so as to form a circle; remaining fingers closed.
The hand is then held toward the sky, Fig. 115. The motion with the
same circular position of index and thumb is for _want_, by bringing
the hand backward toward the mouth, in a curve forming a short arch
between the origin and termination of the gesture.

[Illustration: Fig. 115.]

For _drink_ the gesture by several tribes is the same as for _want_,
with the slight difference in the position of the last three fingers,
which are not so tightly clinched, forming somewhat the shape of a
cup; and that for _money_ is made by holding out the hand with the
same arrangement of fingers in front of the hips, at a distance of
about twelve or fifteen inches.

[Illustration: Fig. 116.]

Another sign for _sun_, made by the Cheyennes, is by placing the tips
of the partly separated thumb and index of one hand against those of
the other, approximating a circle, and holding them toward the sky,
Fig. 116, and that for _various things_, observed among the Brulé
Sioux with the same position of the hands, is made by placing the
circle horizontal, and moving it interruptedly toward the right
side, each movement forming a short arch. Compare also the sign for
_village_, described on page 386.

The Arikara sign for _soldier_ is by placing the clinched hands
together before the breast, thumbs touching, then drawing them
horizontally outward toward their respective sides, Fig. 117. That for
_done_, made by the Hidatsa, is shown below in this paper, see Fig.
334, page 528. That for _much_ (_Cheyenne_ I, _Comanche_ III), see
Fig. 274, page 447, is to be correlated with the above.

[Illustration: Fig. 117.]

The sign for _to be told_ or _talked to_, and for the reception of
speech, by the tribes generally, is made by placing the flat right
hand, palm upward, about fifteen inches in front of the right side
of the face or breast, fingers pointing to the left, then drawing the
hand toward the bottom of the chin, and is illustrated in Fig. 71,
page 291. The Comanche sign for _give_ or _asking_ is shown in Fig.
301, page 480 (_Comanche_ III), and is made by bringing the hand
toward the body but a short distance, and the motion repeated, the
tips of the fingers indicating the outline of a circle.

The tribal sign for _Kaiowa_, illustrated in its place among the
TRIBAL SIGNS, is made by holding the hand with extended and separated
fingers and thumb near the side of the head, back outward, and giving
it a rotary motion. This gesture is made in front of the face by
many tribes. The generic sign for _deer_, made by the Dakota and some
others, is by holding the hand motionless at the side of the head,
with extended and separated thumb and fingers, representing the
branched antlers. That for _fool_, reported from the same Indians,
is the same as above described for _Kaiowa_, which it also signifies,
though frequently only one or two fingers are used.

The tribal sign both for the _Sahaptin_ or _Nez Percés_ and for
_Caddo_ (see TRIBAL SIGNS) is made by passing the extended index,
pointing under the nose from right to left. When the second finger is
not tightly closed it strongly resembles the sign often made for _lie,
falsehood_, by passing the extended index and second fingers separated
toward the left, over the mouth.

The tribal sign for Cheyenne (see TRIBAL SIGNS) differs from the
sign for _spotted_ only in the finger (or hand) in the latter being
alternately passed across the upper and lower sides of the left

The sign for _steal, theft_, see Fig. 75, page 293, is but slightly
different from that for _bear_, see Fig. 239, page 413, especially
when the latter is made with one hand only. The distinction, however,
is that the grasping in the latter sign is not followed by the idea of
concealment in the former, which is executed by the right hand, after
the motion of grasping, being brought toward and sometimes under the
left armpit.

_Cold_ and _winter_, see Tendoy-Huerito Dialogue, page 486, may be
compared with _love_, see Kin Chē-ĕss' speech, page 521, and
with _prisoner_. In these the difference consists in that _cold_ and
_winter_ are represented by crossing the arms with clinched hands
before the breast; _love_ by crossing the arms so as to bring the
fists more under the chin, and _prisoner_ by holding the crossed
wrists a foot in front of the breast.

_Melon, squash, muskmelon_, used by the Utes and Apaches, is made by
holding the hand arched, fingers separated and pointing forward, and
pushing the hand forward over a slight curve near the ground, and the
generic sign for _animals_ by the Apaches is made in the same manner
at the height intended to represent the object.

The sign for _where?_, and _to search, to seek for_, made by the
Dakota (IV), is by holding the back of the hand upward, index pointing
forward, and carrying it from left to right about eight inches,
raising and lowering it several times while so doing, as if quickly
pointing at different objects. That for _some of them_, a part of a
number of things or persons, made by the Kaiowa, Comanche, Wichita,
and Apache Indians is nearly identical, the gesture being made less


These may be divided into (1) its practical application, (2) its aid
to philologic researches in general with (3) particular reference
to the grammatic machinery of language, and (4) its archæologic


The most obvious application of Indian sign language will for its
practical utility depend, to a large extent, upon the correctness
of the view submitted by the present writer that it is not a mere
semaphoric repetition of motions to be memorized from a limited
traditional list, but is a cultivated art, founded upon principles
which can be readily applied by travelers and officials, so as to
give them much independence of professional interpreters--as a
class dangerously deceitful and tricky. This advantage is not merely
theoretical, but has been demonstrated to be practical by a professor
in a deaf mute college who, lately visiting several of the wild tribes
of the plains, made himself understood among all of them without
knowing a word of any of their languages; nor would it only be
experienced in connection with American tribes, being applicable
to intercourse with savages in Africa and Asia, though it is not
pretended to fulfill by this agency the schoolmen's dream of an
ecumenical mode of communication between all peoples in spite of their
dialectic divisions.

It must be admitted that the practical value of signs for intercourse
with the American Indians will not long continue, their general
progress in the acquisition of English or of Spanish being so rapid
that those languages are becoming, to a surprising extent, the common
medium, and signs are proportionally disused. Nor is a systematic
use of signs of so great assistance in communicating with foreigners,
whose speech is not understood, as might at first be supposed, unless
indeed both parties agree to cease all attempt at oral language,
relying wholly upon gestures. So long as words are used at all, signs
will be made only as their accompaniment, and they will not always
be ideographic. An amusing instance in which savages showed their
preference to signs instead of even an onomatope may be quoted from
Wilfred Powell's _Observations on New Britain and neighboring Islands
during Six Years' Exploration_, in _Proc. Roy. Geog. Soc._, vol.
iii, No. 2 (new monthly series), February, 1881, p. 89, 90: "On one
occasion, wishing to purchase a pig, and not knowing very well how
to set about it, being ignorant of the dialect, which is totally
different from that of the natives in the north, I asked Mr. Brown how
I should manage, or what he thought would be the best way of making
them understand. He said, 'Why don't you try granting?' whereupon I
began to grunt most vociferously. The effect was magical. Some of
them jumped back, holding their spears in readiness to throw; others
ran away, covering their eyes with their hands, and all exhibited the
utmost astonishment and alarm. In fact, it was so evident that they
expected me to turn into a pig, and their alarm was so irresistibly
comic, that Mr. Brown and I both burst out laughing, on which they
gradually became more reassured, and those that had run away came
back, and seeing us so heartily amused, and that I had not undergone
any metamorphosis, began to laugh too; but when I drew a pig on the
sand with a piece of stick, and made motions of eating, it suddenly
seemed to strike them what was the matter, for they all burst out
laughing, nodding their heads, and several of them ran off, evidently
in quest of the pig that was required."


Sign language, being the mother utterance of nature, poetically styled
by Lamartine the visible attitudes of the soul, is superior to all
others in that it permits every one to find in nature an image to
express his thoughts on the most needful matters intelligently to any
other person. The direct or substantial natural analogy peculiar to
it prevents a confusion of ideas. It is to some extent possible to
use words without understanding them which yet may be understood by
those addressed, but it is hardly possible to use signs without full
comprehension of them. Separate words may also be comprehended by
persons hearing them without the whole connected sense of the words
taken together being caught, but signs are more intimately connected.
Even those most appropriate will not be understood if the subject
is beyond the comprehension of their beholders. They would be as
unintelligible as the wild clicks of his instrument, in an electric
storm, would be to the telegrapher, or as the semaphore, driven by
wind, to the signalist. In oral speech even onomatopes are arbitrary,
the most strictly natural sounds striking the ear of different
individuals and nations in a manner wholly diverse. The instances
given by SAYCE are in point. Exactly the same sound was intended to
be reproduced in the "_bilbit_ amphora" of Nævius, the "_glut glut_
murmurat unda sonans" of the Latin Anthology, and the "_puls_" of
Varro. The Persian "_bulbul_," the "_jugjug_" of Gascoigne, and the
"_whitwhit_" of others are all attempts at imitating the note of the
nightingale. Successful signs must have a much closer analogy and
establish, a _consensus_ between the talkers far beyond that produced
by the mere sound of words.

Gestures, in the degree of their pantomimic character, excel in
graphic and dramatic effect applied to narrative and to rhetorical
exhibition, and beyond any other mode of description give the force
of reality. Speech, when highly cultivated, is better adapted to
generalization and abstraction; therefore to logic and metaphysics.
The latter must ever henceforth, be the superior in formulating
thoughts. Some of the enthusiasts in signs have contended that this
unfavorable distinction is not from any inherent incapability, but
because their employment has not been continued unto perfection,
and that if they had been elaborated by the secular labor devoted
to spoken language they might in resources and distinctiveness have
exceeded many forms of the latter. Gallaudet, Peet, and others maybe
right in asserting that man could by his arms, hands, and fingers,
with facial and bodily accentuation, express any idea that could be
conveyed by words.

The combinations which can be made with corporeal signs are infinite.
It has been before argued that a high degree of culture might have
been attained by man without articulate speech and it is but a further
step in the reasoning to conclude that if articulate speech had not
been possessed or acquired, necessity would have developed gesture
language to a degree far beyond any known exhibition of it. The
continually advancing civilization and continually increasing
intercourse of countless ages has perfected oral speech, and as both,
civilization and intercourse were possible with signs alone it is
to be supposed that they would have advanced in some corresponding
manner. But as sign language has been chiefly used during historic
time either as a scaffolding around a more valuable structure to
be thrown aside when the latter was completed, or as an occasional
substitute, such development was not to be expected.

The process of forming signs to express abstract ideas is only a
variant from that of oral speech, in which the words for the most
abstract ideas, such as law, virtue, infinitude, and immortality,
are shown by Max Müller to have been derived and deduced, that
is, abstracted, from sensuous impressions. In the use of signs the
countenance and manner as well as the tenor decide whether objects
themselves are intended, or the forms, positions, qualities, and
motions of other objects which are suggested, and signs for moral
and intellectual ideas, founded on analogies, are common all over
the world as well as among deaf-mutes. Concepts of the intangible and
invisible are only learned through percepts of tangible and visible
objects, whether finally expressed to the eye or to the ear, in terms
of sight or of sound.

Sign language is so faithful to nature, and so essentially living in
its expression, that it is not probable that it will ever die. It may
become disused, but will revert. Its elements are ever natural and
universal, by recurring to which the less natural signs adopted
dialectically or for expedition can always, with, some circumlocution,
be explained. This power of interpreting itself is a peculiar
advantage, for spoken languages, unless explained by gestures or
indications, can only be interpreted by means of some other spoken
language. When highly cultivated, its rapidity on familiar subjects
exceeds that of speech and approaches to that of thought itself. This
statement may be startling to those who only notice that a selected
spoken word may convey in an instant a meaning for which the motions
of even an expert in signs may require a much longer time, but it must
be considered that oral speech is now wholly conventional, and that
with the similar development of sign language conventional expressions
with hands and body could be made more quickly than with the vocal
organs, because more organs could be worked at once. Without such
supposed development the habitual communication between deaf-mutes and
among Indians using signs is perhaps as rapid as between the ignorant
class of speakers upon the same subjects, and in many instances the
signs would win at a trial of speed. At the same time it must be
admitted that great increase in rapidity is chiefly obtained by the
system of preconcerted abbreviations, before explained, and by the
adoption of arbitrary forms, in which naturalness is sacrificed and
conventionality established, as has been the case with all spoken
languages in the degree in which they have become copious and

There is another characteristic of the gesture speech that, though
it cannot be resorted to in the dark, nor where the attention of
the person addressed has not been otherwise attracted, it has the
countervailing benefit of use when the voice could not be employed.
This may be an advantage at a distance which the eye can reach, but
not the ear, and still more frequently when silence or secrecy is
desired. Dalgarno recommends it for use in the presence of great
people, who ought not to be disturbed, and curiously enough
"Disappearing Mist," the Iroquois chief, speaks of the former
extensive use of signs in his tribe by women and boys as a mark of
respect to warriors and elders, their voices, in the good old days,
not being uplifted in the presence of the latter. The decay of that
wholesome state of discipline, he thinks, accounts partly for the
disappearance of the use of signs among the modern impudent youth and
the dusky claimants of woman's rights.

An instance of the additional power gained to a speaker of ordinary
language by the use of signs, impressed the writer while dictating to
two amanuenses at the same moment, to the one by signs and the other
by words, on different subjects, a practice which would have enabled
Cæsar to surpass his celebrated feat. It would also be easy to talk to
a deaf and blind man at once, the latter being addressed by the voice
and the former in signs.


The aid to be derived from the study of sign language in prosecuting
researches into the science of language was pointed out by LEIBNITZ,
in his _Collectanea Etymologica_, without hitherto exciting any
thorough or scientific work in that direction, the obstacle to it
probably being that scholars competent in other respects had no
adequate data of the gesture speech of man to be used in comparison.
The latter will, it is hoped, be supplied by the work now undertaken.

In the first part of this paper it was suggested that signs played an
important part in giving meaning to spoken words. Philology, comparing
the languages of earth in their radicals, must therefore include the
graphic or manual presentation of thought, and compare the elements of
ideography with those of phonics. Etymology now examines the ultimate
roots, not the fanciful resemblances between oral forms, in the
different tongues; the internal, not the mere external parts of
language. A marked peculiarity of sign language consists in its
limited number of radicals and the infinite combinations into
which those radicals enter while still remaining distinctive. It is
therefore a proper field for etymologic study.

From these and other considerations it is supposed that an analysis
of the original conceptions of gestures, studied together with the
holophrastic roots in the speech of the gesturers, may aid in the
ascertainment of some relation between concrete ideas and words.
Meaning does not adhere to the phonic presentation of thought, while
it does to signs. The latter are doubtless more flexible and in that
sense more mutable than words, but the ideas attached to them are
persistent, and therefore there is not much greater metamorphosis
in the signs than in the cognitions. The further a language has been
developed from its primordial roots, which have been twisted into
forms no longer suggesting any reason for their original selection,
and the more the primitive significance of its words has disappeared,
the fewer points of contact can it retain with signs. The higher
languages are more precise because the consciousness of the derivation
of most of their words is lost, so that they have become counters,
good for any sense agreed upon and for no other.

It is, however, possible to ascertain the included gesture even in
many English words. The class represented by the word _supercilious_
will occur to all readers, but one or two examples may be given not
so obvious and more immediately connected with the gestures of our
Indians. _Imbecile_, generally applied to the weakness of old age,
is derived from the Latin _in_, in the sense of on, and _bacillum_,
a staff, which at once recalls the Cheyenne sign for _old man_,
mentioned above, page 339. So _time_ appears more nearly connected
with [Greek: teino] to stretch, when information is given of the sign
for _long time_, in the Speech of Kin Chē-ĕss, in this paper,
viz., placing the thumbs and forefingers in such a position as if a
small thread was held between the thumb and forefinger of each hand,
the hands first touching each other, and then moving slowly from each
other, as if _stretching_ a piece of gum-elastic.

In the languages of North America, which have not become arbitrary to
the degree exhibited by those of civilized man, the connection between
the idea and the word is only less obvious than, that still unbroken
between the idea and the sign, and they remain strongly affected
by the concepts of outline, form, place, position, and feature on
which gesture is founded, while they are similar in their fertile
combination of radicals.

Indian language consists of a series of words that are but slightly
differentiated parts of speech following each other in the order
suggested in the mind of the speaker without absolute laws of
arrangement, as its sentences are not completely integrated. The
sentence necessitates parts of speech, and parts of speech are
possible only when a language has reached that stage where sentences
are logically constructed. The words of an Indian tongue, being
synthetic or undifferentiated parts of speech, are in this respect
strictly analogous to the gesture elements which enter into a sign
language. The study of the latter is therefore valuable for comparison
with the words of the former. The one language throws much light upon
the other, and neither can be studied to the best advantage without a
knowledge of the other.

Some special resemblances between the language of signs and the
character of the oral languages found on this continent may be
mentioned. Dr. J. HAMMOND TRUMBULL remarks of the composition of their
words that they were "so constructed as to be thoroughly self-defining
and immediately intelligible to the hearer." In another connection the
remark is further enforced: "Indeed, it is a requirement of the Indian
languages that every word shall be so framed as to admit of immediate
resolution to its significant elements by the hearer. It must be
thoroughly _self-defining_, for (as Max Müller has expressed it) 'it
requires tradition, society, and literature to maintain words which
can no longer be analyzed at once.'... In the ever-shifting state of
a nomadic society no debased coin can be tolerated in language, no
obscure legend accepted on trust. The metal must be pure and the
legend distinct."

Indian languages, like those of higher development, sometimes
exhibit changes of form by the permutation of vowels, but often an
incorporated particle, whether suffix, affix, or infix, shows the
etymology which often, also, exhibits the same objective conception
that would be executed in gesture. There are, for instance, different
forms for standing, sitting, lying, falling, &c., and for standing,
sitting, lying on or falling from the same level or a higher or lower
level. This resembles the pictorial conception and execution of signs.

Major J.W. POWELL, with particular reference to the disadvantages of
the multiplied inflections in Indian languages, alike with the Greek
and Latin, when the speaker is compelled, in the choice of a word to
express his idea, to think of a great multiplicity of things, gives
the following instance:

"A Ponca Indian in saying that a man killed a rabbit, would have to
say: the man, he, one, animate, standing, in the nominative case,
purposely killed, by shooting an arrow, the rabbit, he, the one,
animate, sitting, in the objective case; for the form of a verb to
kill would have to be selected, and the verb changes its form by
inflection and incorporated particles to denote person, number, and
gender as animate or inanimate, and gender as standing, sitting, or
lying, and case; and the form of the verb would also express whether
the killing was done accidentally or purposely, and whether it was by
shooting or by some other process, and, if by shooting, whether by
bow and arrow, or with a gun; and the form of the verb would in like
manner have to express all of these things relating to the object;
that is, the person, number, gender, and case of the object; and
from the multiplicity of paradigmatic forms of the verb to kill, this
particular one would have to be selected." This is substantially the
mode in which an Indian sign talker would find it necessary to tell
the story, as is shown by several examples given below in narratives,
speeches, and dialogues.

Indian languages exhibit the same fondness for demonstration which is
necessary in sign language. The two forms of utterance are alike in
their want of power to express certain words, such as the verb "to
be," and in the criterion of organization, so far as concerns a
high degree of synthesis and imperfect differentiation, they bear
substantially the same relation to the English language.

It may finally be added that as not only proper names but nouns,
generally in Indian languages are connotive, predicating some
attribute of the object, they can readily be expressed by gesture
signs, and therefore among them, if anywhere, it is to be expected
that relations may be established between the words and the signs.


There can be no attempt in the present limits to trace the etymology
of any large number of words in the several Indian languages to a
gestural origin, nor, if the space allowed, would it be satisfactory.
The signs have scarcely yet been collected, verified, and collated
in sufficient numbers for such comparison, even with the few of
the Indian languages the radicals of which have been scientifically
studied. The signs will, in a future work, be frequently presented in
connection with the corresponding words of the gesturers, as is done
now in a few instances in another part of this paper. For the present
the subject is only indicated by the following examples, introduced to
suggest the character of the study in which the students of American
linguistics are urgently requested to assist:

The Dakota word _Shaⁿte-suta_--from _shaⁿte_, heart, and _suta_,
strong--_brave_, not cowardly, literally strong-hearted, is made by
several tribes of that stock, and particularly by the Brulé Sioux, in
gestures by collecting the tips of the fingers and thumb of the right
hand to a point, and then placing the radial side of the hand over
the heart, finger tips pointing downward--_heart_; then place the
left fist, palm inward, horizontally before the lower portion of the
breast, the right fist back of the left, then raise the right and
throw it forcibly over and downward in front of the left--_brave_,
_strong_. See Fig. 242, page 415.

The Arikaras make the sign for _brave_ by striking the clinched fist
forcibly toward the ground in front of and near the breast.

Brave, or "strong-hearted," is made by the Absaroka, Shoshoni, and
Banak Indians by merely placing the clinched fist to the breast, the
latter having allusion to the heart, the clinching of the hand to
strength, vigor, or force.

An Ojibwa sign for _death, to die_, is as follows:

Place the palm of the hand at a short distance from the side of
the head, then withdraw it gently in an oblique downward direction,
inclining the head and upper part of the body in the same direction.

The same authority, The Very Rev. E. Jacker, who contributes it,
notes that there is an apparent connection between this conception and
execution and the etymology of the corresponding terms in Ojibwa. "He
dies," is _nibo_; "he sleeps," is _niba_. The common idea expressed
by the gesture is a sinking to rest. The original significance of
the root _nib_ seems to be "leaning;" _anibeia_, "it is leaning";
_anibekweni_, "he inclines the head sidewards." The word _niba_ or
_nibe_ (only in compounds) conveys the idea of "night," perhaps as the
falling over, the going to rest, or the death of the day.

_Ogima_, the Ojibwa term for _chief_, is derived from a root which
signifies "above" (_Ogidjaii_, upon; _ogidjina_, above; _ogidaki_,
on a hill or mountain, etc.). _Ogitchida_, a brave, a hero (Otawa,
_ogida_), is probably from the same root.

_Sagima_, the Ojibwa form of sachem, is from the root _sag_, which
implies a coming forth, or stretching out. These roots are to be
considered in connection with several gestures described under the
head of _Chief_, in EXTRACTS FROM DICTIONARY, _infra_.

_Onijishin_, it is _good_ (_Ojibwa_), originally signifies "it
lies level." This may be compared with the sign for _good_, in
the Tendoy-Huerito Dialogue, Fig. 309, page 487, and also that for
_happy, contentment_, in the Speech of Kin Chē-ĕss, page 523.

In Klamath the radix _lam_ designates a whirling motion, and appears
in the word _láma_, "to be crazy, mad," readily correlated with the
common gesture for _madman_ and _fool_, in which the hand is rotated
above and near the head.

_Evening_, in Klamath, is _litkhí_, from _luta_, to hang down, meaning
the time when the sun hangs down, the gesture for which, described
elsewhere in this paper (see Nátci's Narrative, page 503), is
executive of the same conception, which is allied to the etymology
usually given for _eve, even_, "the decline of the day." These
Klamath etymologies have been kindly contributed by Mr. A.S. Gatschet.

The Very Rev. E. Jacker also communicates a suggestive _excursus
exegeticus_ upon the probable gestural origin of the Ojibwa word
_tibishko_, "opposite in space; just so; likewise:"

"The adverb _tibishko_ (or _dibishko_) is an offshoot of the root
_tib_ (or _dib_), which in most cases conveys the idea of measuring
or weighing, as appears from the following samples: _dibaige_, he
measures; _dibowe_, he settles matters by his speech or word, e.g.,
as a juryman; _dibaamage_, he pays out; _dibakonige_, he judges;
_dibabishkodjige_, he weighs; _dibamenimo_, he restricts himself,
e.g., to a certain quantity of food; _dibissitchige_, he fulfills a
promise; _dibijigan_, a pattern for cutting clothes.

"The original, meaning of _tib_, however, must be supposed to
have been more comprehensive, if we would explain other (apparent)
derivatives, such as: _tibi_, 'I don't know where, where to, where
from,' &c.; _tibik_, night; _dibendjige_, he is master or
owner; _titibisse_, it rolls (as a ball), it turns (as a wheel);
_dibaboweigan_, the cover of a kettle. The notion of measuring does
not very naturally enter into the ideas expressed by these terms.

"The difficulty disappears if we assume the root _tib_ or _dib_ to
have been originally the phonetic equivalent of a _gesture_ expressive
of the notion of covering as well as of that of measuring. This
gesture would seem to be the holding of one hand above the other,
horizontally, at some distance, palms opposite or both downwards.
This, or some similar gesture would most naturally accompany the above
terms. As for _tibik_, night, compare (_Dunbar_): 'The two hands open
and extended, crossing one another horizontally.' The idea of covering
evidently enters into this conception. The strange adverb _tibi_ ('I
don't know where,' &c., or 'in a place unknown to me'), if
derived from the same root, would originally signify 'covered.' In
_titibisse_, or _didibisse_ (it rolls, it turns), the reduplication
of the radical syllable indicates the repetition of the gesture, by
holding the hands alternately above one another, palms downwards, and
thus producing a rotary motion.

"In German, the clasping of the hands in a horizontal position,
expressive of a promise or the conclusion of a bargain, is frequently
accompanied by the interjection _top!_ the same radical consonants
as in _tib_. Compare also the English _tap_, the French _tape_, the
Greek, [Greek: tupto] the Sanscrit _tup_ and _tub_, &c."


Though written characters are generally associated with speech, they
are shown, by successful employment in hieroglyphs and by educated
deaf-mutes to be representative of ideas without the intervention
of sounds, and so also are the outlines of signs. This will be
more apparent if the motions expressing the most prominent feature,
attribute, or function of an object are made, or supposed to be made,
so as to leave a luminous track impressible upon the eye separate from
the members producing it. The actual result is an immateriate graphic
representation of visible objects and qualities which, invested with
substance, has become familiar to us as the _rebus_, and also appears
in the form of heraldic blazonry styled punning or "canting."

Gesture language is, in fact, not only a picture language, but
is actual writing, though dissolving and sympathetic, and neither
alphabetic nor phonetic.

Dalgarno aptly says: "_Qui enim caput nutat, oculo connivet, digitum
movet in aëre, &c., (ad mentis cogitata exprimendum); is non minus
vere scribit, quam qui Literas pingit in Charta, Marmore, vel ære._"

It is neither necessary nor proper to enter now upon any prolonged
account of the origin, of alphabetic writing. There is, however,
propriety, if not necessity, for the present writer, when making
any remarks under this heading and under some others in this paper
indicating special lines of research, to disclaim all pretension
to being a Sinologue or Egyptologist, or even profoundly versed in
Mexican antiquities. His partial and recently commenced studies only
enable him to present suggestions for the examination of scholars.
These suggestions may safely be introduced by the statement that the
common modern alphabetic characters, coming directly from the Romans,
were obtained by them from the Greeks, and by the latter from the
Phoenicians, whose alphabet was connected with that of the old Hebrew.
It has also been of late the general opinion that the whole family of
alphabets to which the Greek, Latin, Gothic, Runic, and others belong,
appearing earlier in the Phoenician, Moabite, and Hebrew, had its
beginning in the ideographic pictures of the Egyptians, afterwards
used by them to express sounds. That the Chinese, though in a
different manner from the Egyptians, passed from picture writing to
phonetic writing, is established by delineations still extant among
them, called _ku-wăn_, or "ancient pictures," with which some of
the modern written characters can be identified. The ancient Mexicans
also, to some extent, developed phonetic expressions out of a very
elaborate system of ideographic picture writing. Assuming that
ideographic pictures made by ancient peoples would be likely to
contain representations of gesture signs, which subject is treated of
below, it is proper to examine if traces of such gesture signs may not
be found in the Egyptian, Chinese, and Aztec characters. Only a few
presumptive examples, selected from a considerable number, are now
presented in which the signs of the North American Indians appear to
be included, with the hope that further investigation by collaborators
will establish many more instances not confined to Indian signs.

A typical sign made by the Indians for _no, negation_, is as
follows: The hand extended or slightly curved is held in front of the
body, a little to the right of the median line; it is then carried
with a rapid sweep a foot or more farther to the right. (_Mandan and
Hidatsa_ I.)

One for _none, nothing_, sometimes used for simple negation, is also
given: Throw both hands outward toward their respective sides from the
breast. (_Wyandot_ I.)

With these compare the two forms of the Egyptian character for _no_,
_negation_, Fig. 118, taken from Champollion, _Grammaire Égyptienne_,
_Paris_, 1836, p. 519.

[Illustration: Fig. 118.]

No vivid fancy is needed to see the hands indicated at the extremities
of arms extended symmetrically from the body on each side.

[Illustration: Fig. 119.]

Also compare the Maya character for the same idea of negation, Fig.
119, found in Landa, _Relation des Choses de Yucatan_, _Paris_, 1864,
316. The Maya word for negation is "_ma_," and the word "_mak_,"
a six-foot measuring rod, given by Brasseur de Bourbourg in his
dictionary, apparently having connection with this character, would
in use separate the hands as illustrated, giving the same form as the
gesture made without the rod.

Another sign for _nothing, none_, made by the Comanches, is: Flat
hand thrown forward, back to the ground, fingers pointing forward
and downward. Frequently the right hand is brushed over the left thus
thrown out.

[Illustration: Fig. 120.]

Compare the Chinese character for the same meaning, Fig. 120. This
will not be recognized as a hand without study of similar characters,
which generally have a cross-line cutting off the wrist. Here the
wrist bones follow under the cross cut, then the metacarpal bones, and
last the fingers, pointing forward and downward.

[Illustration: Fig. 121.]

[Illustration: Fig. 122.]

[Illustration: Fig. 123.]

The Arapaho sign for _child, baby_, is the forefinger in the mouth,
i.e., a nursing child, and a natural sign of a deaf-mute is the same.
The Egyptian figurative character for the same is seen in Fig.
121. Its linear form is Fig. 122, and its hieratic is Fig. 123
(Champollion, _Dictionnaire Egyptien_, _Paris_, 1841, p. 31.)

[Illustration: Fig. 124.]

[Illustration: Fig. 125.]

[Illustration: Fig. 126.]

[Illustration: Fig. 127.]

These afford an interpretation to the ancient Chinese form for _son_,
Fig. 124, given in _Journ. Royal Asiatic Society_, I, 1834, p. 219,
as belonging to the Shang dynasty, 1756, 1112 B.C., and the modern
Chinese form, Fig. 125, which, without the comparison, would not be
supposed to have any pictured reference to an infant with hand
or finger at or approaching the mouth, denoting the taking of
nourishment. Having now suggested this, the Chinese character for
_birth_, Fig. 126, is understood as the expression of a common gesture
among the Indians, particularly reported from the Dakota, for _born_,
_to be born_, viz: Place the left hand in front of the body, a little
to the right, the palm downward and slightly arched, then pass the
extended right hand downward, forward, and upward, forming a short
curve underneath the left, as in Fig. 127 (_Dakota_ V). This is based
upon the curve followed by the head of the child during birth, and is
used generically. The same curve, when made with one hand, appears in
Fig. 128.

[Illustration: Fig. 128.]

It may be of interest to compare with the Chinese _child_ the Mexican
abbreviated character for _man_, Fig. 129, found in Pipart in _Compte
Rendu Cong. Inter. des Américanistes, 2me Session_, _Luxembourg_,
1877, 1878, II, 359. The figure on the right is called the abbreviated
form of that by its side, yet its origin may be different.

[Illustration: Fig. 129.]

[Illustration: Fig. 130.]

The Chinese character for _man_, is Fig. 130, and may have the same
obvious conception as a Dakota sign for the same signification: "Place
the extended index, pointing upward and forward before the lower
portion of the abdomen."

The Chinese specific character for _woman_ is Fig. 131, the cross mark
denoting the wrist, and if the remainder be considered the hand,
the fingers may be imagined in the position made by many tribes, and
especially the Utes, as depicting the _pudendum muliebre_, Fig. 132.

[Illustration: Fig. 131.]

[Illustration: Fig. 132.]

The Egyptian generic character for _female_ is [Symbol: semicircle]
(Champollion, _Dict._,) believed to represent the curve of the mammæ
supposed to be cut off or separated from the chest, and the gesture
with the same meaning was made by the Cheyenne Titchkematski, and
photographed, as in Fig. 133. It forms the same figure as the Egyptian
character as well as can be done by a position of the human hand.

[Illustration: Fig. 133.]

The Chinese character for _to give water_ is Fig. 134, which may be
compared with the common Indian gesture _to drink, to give water_,
viz: "Hand held with tips of fingers brought together and passed to
the mouth, as if scooping up water", Fig. 135, obviously from the
primitive custom, as with Mojaves, who still drink with scooped hands.

[Illustration: Fig. 134.]

[Illustration: Fig. 135.]

Another common Indian gesture sign for _water to drink, I want
to drink_, is: "Hand brought downward past the mouth with loosely
extended fingers, palm toward the face." This appears in the Mexican
character for _drink_, Fig. 136, taken from Pipart, _loc. cit._, p.
351. _Water_, i.e., the pouring out of water with the drops falling
or about to fall, is shown in Fig. 137, taken from the same author (p.
349), being the same arrangement of them as in the sign for _rain_,
Fig. 114, p. 344, the hand, however, being inverted. _Rain_ in the
Mexican picture writing is shown by small circles inclosing a dot,
as in the last two figures, but not connected together, each having a
short line upward marking the line of descent.

[Illustration: Fig. 136.]

[Illustration: Fig. 137.]

With the gesture for drink may be compared Fig. 138, the Egyptian
Goddess Nu in the sacred sycamore tree, pouring out the water of life
to the Osirian and his soul, represented as a bird, in Amenti (Sharpe,
from a funereal stele in the British Museum, in _Cooper's Serpent
Myths_, p. 43).

[Illustration: Fig. 138.]

The common Indian gesture for _river_ or _stream, water_, is made by
passing the horizontal flat hand, palm down, forward and to the left
from the right side in a serpentine manner.

[Illustration: Fig. 139.]

The Egyptian character for the same is Fig. 139 (Champollion, _Dict._,
p. 429). The broken line is held to represent the movement of the
water on the surface of the stream. When made with one line less
angular and more waving it means _water_. It is interesting to compare
with this the identical character in the syllabary invented by a West
African negro, Mormoru Doalu Bukere, for _water_, [Symbol: water,
represented by a wavy line], mentioned by TYLOR in his _Early History
of Mankind_, p. 103.

The abbreviated Egyptian sign for _water_ as a stream is Fig. 140
(Champollion, _loc. cit._), and the Chinese for the same is as in Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 140.]

[Illustration: Fig. 141.]

In the picture-writing of the Ojibwa the Egyptian abbreviated
character, with two lines instead of three, appears with the same

The Egyptian character for _weep_, Fig. 142, an eye, with tears
falling, is also found in the pictographs of the Ojibwa (Schoolcraft,
I, pl. 54, Fig. 27), and is also made by the Indian gesture of drawing
lines by the index repeatedly downward from the eye, though perhaps
more frequently made by the full sign for _rain_, described on page
344, made with the back of the hand downward from the eye--"eye rain."

[Illustration: Fig. 142.]

The Egyptian character for _to be strong_ is Fig. 143 (Champollion,
_Dict._, p. 91), which is sufficiently obvious, but may be compared
with the sign for _strong_, made by some tribes as follows: Hold the
clinched fist in front of the right side, a little higher than the
elbow, then throw it forcibly about six inches toward the ground.

[Illustration: Fig. 143.]

A typical gesture for _night_ is as follows: Place the flat hands,
horizontally, about two feet apart, move them quickly in an upward
curve toward one another until the right lies across the left.
"Darkness covers all." See Fig. 312, page 489.

The conception of covering executed by delineating the object covered
beneath the middle point of an arch or curve, appears also clearly in
the Egyptian characters for _night_, Fig. 144 (Champollion, _Dict._,
p. 3).

[Illustration: Fig. 144.]

The upper part of the character is taken separately to form that for
sky (see page 372, _infra_).

[Illustration: Fig. 145.]

The Egyptian figurative and linear characters, Figs. 145 and 146
(Champollion, _Dict._, p. 28), for _calling upon_ and _invocation_,
also used as an interjection, scarcely require the quotation of an
Indian sign, being common all over the world.

[Illustration: Fig. 146.]

The gesture sign made by several tribes for _many_ is as follows: Both
hands, with spread and slightly curved fingers, are held pendent about
two feet apart before the thighs; then bring them toward one another,
horizontally, drawing them upward as they come together. (_Absaroka_
I; _Shoshoni and Banak_ I; _Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.) "An accumulation of objects." This may be the same
motion indicated by the Egyptian character, Fig. 147, meaning to
_gather together_ (Champollion, _Dict._, p. 459).

[Illustration: Fig. 147.]

[Illustration: Fig. 148.]

[Illustration: Fig. 149.]

The Egyptian character, Fig. 148, which in its linear form is
represented in Fig. 149, and meaning to _go_, to _come, locomotion_,
is presented to show readers unfamiliar with hieroglyphics how a
corporeal action may be included in a linear character without
being obvious or at least certain, unless it should be made clear
by comparison with the full figurative form or by other means. This
linear form might be noticed many times without certainty or perhaps
suspicion that it represented the human legs and feet in the act of
walking. The same difficulty, of course, as also the same prospect of
success by careful research, attends the tracing of other corporeal
motions which more properly come under the head of gesture signs.


Apart from the more material and substantive relations between signs
and language, it is to be expected that analogies can by proper
research be ascertained between their several developments in the
manner of their use, that is, in their grammatic mechanism, and in the
genesis of the sentence. The science of language, ever henceforward to
be studied historically, must take account of the similar early mental
processes in which the phrase or sentence originated, both in sign and
oral utterance. In this respect, as in many others, the North American
Indians may be considered to be living representatives of prehistoric


The reader will understand without explanation that there is in the
gesture speech no organized sentence such as is integrated in the
languages of civilization, and that he must not look for articles or
particles or passive voice or case or grammatic gender, or even what
appears in those languages as a substantive or a verb, as a subject
or a predicate, or as qualifiers or inflexions. The sign radicals,
without being specifically any of our parts of speech, may be all
of them in turn. There is, however, a grouping and sequence of the
ideographic pictures, an arrangement of signs in connected succession,
which may be classed under the scholastic head of syntax. This
subject, with special reference to the order of deaf-mute signs as
compared with oral speech, has been the theme of much discussion, some
notes of which, condensed from the speculations of M. Rémi Valade and
others, follow in the next paragraph without further comment than may
invite attention to the profound remark of LEIBNITZ.

In mimic construction there are to be considered both the order in
which the signs succeed one another and the relative positions in
which they are made, the latter remaining longer in the memory than
the former, and spoken language may sometimes in its early infancy
have reproduced the ideas of a sign picture without commencing from
the same point. So the order, as in Greek and Latin, is very variable.
In nations among whom the alphabet was introduced without the
intermediary to any impressive degree of picture-writing, the order
being (1) language of signs, almost superseded by (2) spoken language,
and (3) alphabetic writing, men would write in the order in which they
had been accustomed to speak. But if at a time when spoken language
was still rudimentary, intercourse being mainly carried on by signs,
figurative writing had been invented, the order of the figures would
be the order of the signs, and the same order would pass into the
spoken language. Hence LEIBNITZ says truly that "the writing of the
Chinese might seem to have been invented by a deaf person." The
oral language has not known the phases which have given to the
Indo-European tongues their formation and grammatical parts. In the
latter, signs were conquered by speech, while in the former, speech
received the yoke.

Sign language cannot show by inflection the reciprocal dependence
of words and sentences. Degrees of motion corresponding with vocal
intonation are only used rhetorically or for degrees of comparison.
The relations of ideas and objects are therefore expressed by
placement, and their connection is established when necessary by the
abstraction of ideas. The sign talker is an artist, grouping persons
and things so as to show the relations between them, and the effect
is that which is seen in a picture. But though the artist has the
advantage in presenting in a permanent connected scene the result of
several transient signs, he can only present it as it appears at
a single moment. The sign talker has the succession of time at his
disposal, and his scenes move and act, are localized and animated, and
their arrangement is therefore more varied and significant.

It is not satisfactory to give the order of equivalent words
as representative of the order of signs, because the pictorial
arrangement is wholly lost; but adopting this expedient as a
mere illustration of the sequence in the presentation of signs by
deaf-mutes, the following is quoted from an essay by Rev. J.R. Keep,
in _American Annals of the Deaf and Dumb_, vol. xvi, p. 223, as the
order in which the parable of the Prodigal Son is translated into

"Once, man one, sons two. Son younger say, Father property your
divide: part my, me give. Father so.--Son each, part his give. Days
few after, son younger money all take, country far go, money
spend, wine drink, food nice eat. Money by and by gone all. Country
everywhere food little: son hungry very. Go seek man any, me hire.
Gentleman meet. Gentleman son send field swine feed. Son swine husks
eat, see--self husks eat want--cannot--husks him give nobody. Son
thinks, say, father my, servants many, bread enough, part give away
can--I none--starve, die. I decide: Father I go to, say I bad, God
disobey, you disobey--name my hereafter _son_, no--I unworthy. You
me work give servant like. So son begin go. Father far look: son see,
pity, run, meet, embrace. Son father say, I bad, you disobey, God
disobey--name my hereafter _son_, no--I unworthy. But father servants
call, command robe best bring, son put on, ring finger put on, shoes
feet put on, calf fat bring, kill. We all eat, merry. Why? Son this my
formerly dead, now alive: formerly lost, now found: rejoice."

It may be remarked, not only from this example, but from general
study, that the verb "to be" as a copula or predicant does not have
any place in sign language. It is shown, however, among deaf-mutes as
an assertion of presence or existence by a sign of stretching the arms
and hands forward and then adding the sign of affirmation. _Time_ as
referred to in the conjunctions _when_ and _then_ is not gestured.
Instead of the form, "When I have had a sleep I will go to the river,"
or "After sleeping I will go to the river," both deaf-mutes and
Indians would express the intention by "Sleep done, I river go."
Though time present, past, and future is readily expressed in signs
(see page 366), it is done once for all in the connection to which
it belongs, and once established is not repeated by any subsequent
intimation, as is commonly the case in oral speech. Inversion, by
which the object is placed before the action, is a striking feature
of the language of deaf-mutes, and it appears to follow the natural
method by which objects and actions enter into the mental conception.
In striking a rock the natural conception is not first of the abstract
idea of striking or of sending a stroke into vacancy, seeing nothing
and having no intention of striking anything in particular, when
suddenly a rock rises up to the mental vision and receives the blow;
the order is that the man sees the rock, has the intention to strike
it, and does so; therefore he gestures, "I rock strike." For further
illustration of this subject, a deaf-mute boy, giving in signs
the compound action of a man shooting a bird from a tree, first
represented the tree, then the bird as alighting upon it, then a
hunter coming toward and looking at it, taking aim with a gun, then
the report of the latter and the falling and the dying gasps of the
bird. These are undoubtedly the successive steps that an artist would
have taken in drawing the picture, or rather successive pictures, to
illustrate the story. It is, however, urged that this pictorial order
natural to deaf-mutes is not natural to the congenitally blind who are
not deaf-mute, among whom it is found to be rhythmical. It is asserted
that blind persons not carefully educated usually converse in a
metrical cadence, the action usually coming first in the structure of
the sentence. The deduction is that all the senses when intact enter
into the mode of intellectual conception in proportion to their
relative sensitiveness and intensity, and hence no one mode of
ideation can be insisted on as normal to the exclusion of others.

Whether or not the above statement concerning the blind is true, the
conceptions and presentations of deaf-mutes and of Indians using sign
language because they cannot communicate by speech, are confined to
optic and, therefore, to pictorial arrangement.

The abbé Sicard, dissatisfied with the want of tenses and
conjunctions, indeed of most of the modern parts of speech, in the
natural signs, and with their inverted order, attempted to construct a
new language of signs, in which the words should be given in the
order of the French or other spoken language adopted, which of course
required him to supply a sign for every word of spoken language.
Signs, whatever their character, could not become associated with
words, or suggest them, until words had been learned. The first step,
therefore, was to explain by means of natural signs, as distinct from
the new signs styled methodical, the meaning of a passage of verbal
language. Then each word was taken separately and a sign affixed to
it, which was to be learned by the pupil. If the word represented a
physical object, the sign would be the same as the natural sign, and
would be already understood, provided the object had been seen and was
familiar; and in all cases the endeavor was to have the sign convey
as strong a suggestion of the meaning of the word as was possible. The
final step was to gesticulate these signs, thus associated with words,
in the exact order in which the words were to stand in a sentence.
Then the pupil would write the very words desired in the exact order
desired. If the previous explanation in natural signs had not been
sufficiently full and careful, he would not understand the passage.
The methodical signs did not profess to give him the ideas, except
in a very limited degree, but only to show him how to express ideas
according to the order and methods of spoken language. As there were
no repetitions of time in narratives in the sign language, it became
necessary to unite with the word-sign for verbs others, to indicate
the different tenses of the verbs, and so by degrees the methodical
signs not only were required to comprise signs for every word, but
also, with every such sign, a grammatical sign to indicate what part
of speech the word was, and, in the case of verbs, still other signs
to show their tenses and corresponding inflections. It was, as Dr.
Peet remarks, a cumbrous and unwieldly vehicle, ready at every step to
break down under the weight of its own machinery. Nevertheless, it was
industriously taught in all our schools from the date of the founding
of the American Asylum in 1817 down to about the year 1835, when it
was abandoned.

The collection of narratives, speeches, and dialogues of our Indians
in sign language, first systematically commenced by the present
writer, several examples of which are in this paper, has not yet
been sufficiently complete and exact to establish conclusions on the
subject of the syntactic arrangement of their signs. So far as
studied it seems to be similar to that of deaf-mutes and to retain the
characteristic of pantomimes in figuring first the principal idea and
adding the accessories successively in the order of importance, the
ideographic expressions being in the ideologic order. If the examples
given are not enough to establish general rules of construction, they
at least show the natural order of ideas in the minds of the gesturers
and the several modes of inversion by which they pass from the known
to the unknown, beginning with the dominant idea or that supposed
to be best known. Some special instances of expedients other than
strictly syntactic coming under the machinery broadly designated as
grammar may be mentioned.


Degrees of comparison are frequently expressed, both by deaf-mutes
and by Indians, by adding to the generic or descriptive sign that
for "big" or "little." _Damp_ would be "wet--little"; _cool_,
"cold--little"; _hot_, "warm--much." The amount or force of motion
also often indicates corresponding diminution or augmentation, but
sometimes expresses a different shade of meaning, as is reported by
Dr. Matthews with reference to the sign for _bad_ and _contempt_, see
page 411. This change in degree of motion is, however, often used for
emphasis only, as is the raising of the voice in speech or italicizing
and capitalizing in print. The Prince of Wied gives an instance of a
comparison in his sign for _excessively hard_, first giving that for
_hard_, viz: Open the left hand, and strike against it several times
with the right (with the backs of the fingers). Afterwards he gives
_hard, excessively_, as follows: Sign for _hard_, then place the left
index-finger upon the right shoulder, at the same time extend
and raise the right arm high, extending the index-finger upward,

Rev. G.L. Deffenbaugh describes what may perhaps be regarded as an
intensive sign among the Sahaptins in connection with the sign for
_good_; i.e., _very good_. "Place the left hand in position in front
of the body with all fingers closed except first, thumb lying on
second, then with forefinger of right hand extended in same way point
to end of forefinger of left hand, move it up the arm till near the
body and then to a point in front of breast to make the sign _good_."
For the latter see EXTRACTS FROM DICTIONARY page 487, _infra_. The
same special motion is prefixed to the sign for _bad_ as an intensive.

Another intensive is reported by Mr. Benjamin Clark, interpreter at
the Kaiowa, Comanche, and Wichita agency, Indian Territory, in which
after the sign for _bad_ is made, that for _strong_ is used by the
Comanches as follows: Place the clinched left fist horizontally in
front of the breast, back forward, then pass the palmar side of the
right fist downward in front of the knuckles of the left.

Dr. W.H. Corbusier, assistant surgeon U.S.A., writes as follows in
response to a special inquiry on the subject: "By carrying the right
fist from behind forward over the left, instead of beginning the
motion six inches above it, the Arapaho sign for _strong_ is made. For
_brave_, first strike the chest over the heart with the right fist two
or three times, and then make the sign for _strong_.

"The sign for _strong_ expresses the superlative when used with other
signs; with coward it denotes a base coward; with hunger, starvation;
and with sorrow, bitter sorrow. I have not seen it used with the sign
for pleasure or that of hunger, nor can I learn that it is ever used
with them."


The principle of opposition, as between the right and left hands, and
between the thumb and forefinger and the little finger, appears among
Indians in some expressions for "above," "below," "forward," "back,"
but is not so common as among the methodical, distinguished from the
natural, signs of deaf-mutes. It is also connected with the attempt
to express degrees of comparison. _Above_ is sometimes expressed by
holding the left hand horizontal, and in front of the body, fingers
open, but joined together, palm upward. The right hand is then placed
horizontal, fingers open but joined, palm downward, an inch or more
above the left, and raised and lowered a few inches several times, the
left hand being perfectly still. If the thing indicated as "above"
is only a _little_ above, this concludes the sign, but if it be
_considerably_ above, the right hand is raised higher and higher as
the height to be expressed is greater, until, if _enormously_ above,
the Indian will raise his right hand as high as possible, and, fixing
his eyes on the zenith, emit a duplicate grunt, the more prolonged as
he desires to express the greater height. All this time the left hand
is held perfectly motionless. _Below_ is gestured in a corresponding
manner, all movement being made by the left or lower hand, the right
being held motionless, palm downward, and the eyes looking down.

The code of the Cistercian monks was based in large part on a system
of opposition which seems to have been wrought out by an elaborate
process of invention rather than by spontaneous figuration, and is
more of mnemonic than suggestive value. They made two fingers at the
right side of the nose stand for "friend," and the same at the left
side for "enemy," by some fanciful connection with right and wrong,
and placed the little finger on the tip of the nose for "fool" merely
because it had been decided to put the forefinger there for "wise


It is well known that the names of Indians are almost always
connotive, and particularly that they generally refer to some animal,
predicating often some attribute or position of that animal. Such
names readily admit of being expressed in sign language, but there may
be sometimes a confusion between the sign expressing the animal which
is taken as a name-totem, and the sign used, not to designate that
animal, but as a proper name. A curious device to differentiate proper
names was observed as resorted to by a Brulé Dakota. After making the
sign of the animal he passed his index forward from the mouth in a
direct line, and explained it orally as "that is his name," i.e., the
name of the person referred to. This approach to a grammatic division
of substantives maybe correlated with the mode in which many tribes,
especially the Dakotas, designate names in their pictographs, i.e.,
by a line from the mouth of the figure drawn representing a man to the
animal, also drawn with proper color or position. Fig. 150 thus
shows the name of Shun-ka Luta, Red Dog, an Ogallalla chief, drawn
by himself. The shading of the dog by vertical lines is designed to
represent red, or _gules_, according to the heraldic scheme of colors,
which is used in other parts of this paper where it seemed useful to
designate particular colors. The writer possesses in painted robes
many examples in which lines are drawn from the mouth to a name-totem.

[Illustration: Fig. 150.]

It would be interesting to dwell more than is now allowed upon the
peculiar objectiveness of Indian proper names with the result, if not
the intention, that they can all be signified in gesture, whereas the
best sign-talker among deaf-mutes is unable to translate the proper
names occurring in his speech or narrative and, necessarily ceasing
signs, resorts to the dactylic alphabet. Indians are generally named
at first according to a clan or totemic system, but later in life
often acquire a new name or perhaps several names in succession from
some exploit or adventure. Frequently a sobriquet is given by no
means complimentary. All of the subsequently acquired, as well as
the original names, are connected with material objects or with
substantive actions so as to be expressible in a graphic picture, and,
therefore, in a pictorial sign. The determination to use names of this
connotive character is shown by the objective translation, whenever
possible, of those European names which it became necessary to
introduce into their speech. William Penn was called "Onas," that
being the word for feather-quill in the Mohawk dialect. The name
of the second French governor of Canada was "Montmagny" which was
translated by the Iroquois "Onontio"--"Great Mountain," and becoming
associated with the title, has been applied to all successive Canadian
governors, though the origin being generally forgotten, it has been
considered as a metaphorical compliment. It is also said that Governor
Fletcher was not named by the Iroquois "Cajenquiragoe," "the great
swift arrow," because of his speedy arrival at a critical time,
but because they had somehow been informed of the etymology of his
name--"arrow maker" (_Fr. fléchier_).


This is sometimes expressed by different signs to distinguish the sex
of animals, when the difference in appearance allows of such varied
portraiture. An example is in the signs for the male and female
buffalo, given by the Prince of Wied. The former is, "Place the
tightly closed hands on both sides of the head, with the fingers
forward;" the latter is, "Curve the two forefingers, place them on
the sides of the head and move them several times." The short stubby
horns of the bull appear to be indicated, and the cow's ears are seen
moving, not being covered by the bull's shock mane. Tribes in which
the hair of the women is differently arranged from that of men often
denote their females by corresponding gesture. In many cases the sex
of animals is indicated by the addition of a generic sign for male or


While it has been mentioned that there is no inflection of signs to
express tense, yet the conception of present, past, and future is
gestured without difficulty. A common mode of indicating the present
time is by the use of signs for _to-day_, one of which is, "(1) both
hands extended, palms outward; (2) swept slowly forward and to each
side, to convey the idea of openness." (_Cheyenne_ II.) This may
combine the idea of _now_ with _openness_, the first part of it
resembling the general deaf-mute sign for _here_ or _now_.

Two signs nearly related together are also reported as expressing the
meaning _now, at once_, viz.: "Forefinger of the right hand extended,
upright, &c. (J), is carried upward in front of the right side of the
body and above the head so that the extended finger points toward
the center of the heavens, and then carried downward in front of the
right breast, forefinger still pointing upright." (_Dakota_ I.) "Place
the extended index, pointing upward, palm to the left, as high as
and before the top of the head; push the hand up and down a slight
distance several times, the eyes being directed upward at the time."
(_Hidatsa_ I; _Kaiowa_ I; _Arikara_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.)

Time past is not only expressed, but some tribes give a distinct
modification to show a short or long time past. The following are

_Lately, recently_.--Hold the left hand at arm's length, closed, with
forefinger only extended and pointing in the direction of the place
where the event occurred; then hold the right hand against the
right shoulder, closed, but with index extended and pointing in
the direction of the left. The hands may be exchanged, the right
extended and the left retained, as the case may require for ease in
description. (_Absaroka I; Shoshoni and Banak_ I.)

_Long ago_.--Both hands closed, forefingers extended and straight;
pass one hand slowly at arm's length, pointing horizontally, the other
against the shoulder or near it, pointing in the same direction as
the opposite one. Frequently the tips of the forefingers are placed
together, and the hands drawn apart, until they reach the positions
described. (_Absaroka_ I; _Shoshoni and Banak_ I.)

The Comanche, Wichita, and other Indians designate a _short time
ago_ by placing the tips of the forefinger and thumb of the left hand
together, the remaining fingers closed, and holding the hand before
the body with forefinger and thumb pointing toward the right shoulder;
the index and thumb of the right hand are then similarly held and
placed against those of the left, when the hands are slowly drawn
apart a short distance. For a _long time ago_ the hands are similarly
held, but drawn farther apart. Either of these signs may be and
frequently is preceded by those for _day, month_, or _year_, when it
is desired to convey a definite idea of the time past.

A sign is reported with the abstract idea of _future_, as follows:
"The arms are flexed and hands brought together in front of the body
as in type-position (W). The hands are made to move in wave-like
motions up and down together and from side to side." (_Oto_ I.) The
authority gives the poetical conception of "Floating on the tide of

The ordinary mode of expressing future time is, however, by some
figurative reference, as the following: Count off fingers, then shut
all the fingers of both hands several times, and touch the hair and
tent or other white object. (_Apache_ III.) "Many years; when I am old


An interesting instance where the rapid connection of signs has
the effect of the conjunction _and_ is shown in NÁTCI'S NARRATIVE,


In the TENDOY-HUERITO DIALOGUE (page 489) the combination of gestures
supplies the want of the proposition _to_.


While this is generally accompanied by facial expression, manner of
action, or pause, instances have been noticed suggesting the device of
interrogation points and periods.


The Shoshoni, Absaroka, Dakota, Comanche, and other Indians, when
desiring to ask a question, precede the gestures constituting the
information desired by a sign intended to attract attention and
"asking for," viz., by holding the flat right hand, with the palm
down, directed, to the individual interrogated, with or without
lateral oscillating motion; the gestural sentence, when completed,
being closed by the same sign and a look of inquiry. This recalls the
Spanish use of the interrogation points before and after the question.


A Hidatsa, after concluding a short statement, indicated its
conclusion by placing the inner edges of the clinched hands together
before the breast, and passing them outward and downward to their
respective sides in an emphatic manner, Fig. 334, page 528. This sign
is also used in other connections to express _done_.

The same mode of indicating the close of a narrative or statement is
made by the Wichitas, by holding the extended left hand horizontally
before the body, fingers pointing to the right, palm either toward the
body or downward, and cutting edgewise downward past the tips of the
left with the extended right hand. This is the same sign given in the
ADDRESS OF KIN CHĒ-ĔSS as _cut off_, and is illustrated in Fig.
324, page 522. This is more ideographic and convenient than the device
of the Abyssinian Galla, reported by M.A. d'Abbadie, who denoted a
comma by a slight stroke of a leather whip, a semicolon by a harder
one, and a full stop by one still harder.


The most interesting light in which the Indians of North America can
be regarded is in their present representation of a stage of evolution
once passed through by our own ancestors. Their signs, as well as
their myths and customs, form a part of the paleontology of humanity
to be studied in the history of the latter as the geologist, with
similar object, studies all the strata of the physical world. At this
time it is only possible to suggest the application of gesture signs
to elucidate pictographs, and also their examination to discover
religious, sociologic, and historic ideas preserved in them, as has
been done with great success in the radicals of oral speech.


The picture writing of Indians is the sole form in which they recorded
events and ideas that can ever be interpreted without the aid of a
traditional key, such as is required for the signification of the
wampum belts of the Northeastern tribes and the _quippus_ of Peru.
Strips of bark, tablets of wood, dressed skins of animals, and the
smooth surfaces of rock have been and still are used for such records,
those most ancient, and therefore most interesting, being of course
the rock etchings; but they can only be deciphered, if at all, by the
ascertained principles on which the more modern and the more obvious
are made. Many of the numerous and widespread rock carvings are mere
idle sketches--of natural objects, mainly animals, and others are as
exclusively mnemonic as the wampum above mentioned. Even since the
Columbian discovery some tribes have employed devices yet ruder than
the rudest pictorial attempt as markers for the memory. An account
of one of these is given in E. Winslow's Relation (A.D. 1624), _Col.
Mass. Hist. Soc._, 2d series, ix, 1822, p. 99, as follows:

"Instead of records and chronicles they take this course: Where any
remarkable act is done, in memory of it, either in the place or by
some pathway near adjoining, they make a round hole in the ground
about a foot deep, and as much over, which, when others passing by
behold, they inquire the cause and occasion of the same, which being
once known, they are careful to acquaint all men as occasion serveth
therewith. And lest such holes should be filled or grown over by any
accident, as men pass by they will often renew the same; by which
means many things of great antiquity are fresh in memory. So that as a
man traveleth, if he can understand his guide, his journey will be the
less tedious, by reason of the many historical discourses which will
be related unto him."

Gregg, in _Commerce of the Prairies_, _New York_, 1844, II, 286, says
of the Plains tribes: "When traveling, they will also pile heaps
of stones upon mounds or conspicuous points, so arranged as to be
understood by their passing comrades; and sometimes they set up the
bleached buffalo heads, which are everywhere scattered over those
plains, to indicate the direction of their march, and many other facts
which may be communicated by those simple signs."

[Illustration: Fig. 151.]

[Illustration: Fig. 152.]

A more ingenious but still arbitrary mode of giving intelligence is
practiced at this day by the Abnaki, as reported by H.L. Masta, chief
of that tribe, now living at Pierreville, Quebec. When they are in the
woods, to say "I am going to the east," a stick is stuck in the ground
pointing to that direction, Fig. 151. "Am not gone far," another stick
is stuck across the former, close to the ground, Fig. 152. "Gone
far" is the reverse, Fig. 153. The number of days journey of proposed
absence is shown by the same number of sticks across the first; thus
Fig. 154 signifies five days' journey. Cutting the bark off from a
tree on one, two, three or four sides near the butt means "Have had
poor, poorer, poorest luck." Cutting it off all around the tree means
"I am starving." Smoking a piece of birch bark and hanging it on a
tree means "I am sick."

[Illustration: Fig. 153.]

[Illustration: Fig. 154.]

Where there has existed any form of artistic representation, however
rude, and at the same time a system of ideographic gesture signs
prevailed, it would be expected that the form of the latter would
appear in the former. The sign of _river_ and _water_ mentioned on
page 358 being established, when it became necessary or desirable to
draw a character or design to convey the same idea, nothing would be
more natural than to use the graphic form of delineation which is
also above described. It was but one more and an easy step to fasten
upon bark, skins, or rocks the evanescent air pictures that still in
pigments or carvings preserve their skeleton outline, and in their
ideography approach, as has been shown above, the rudiments of the
phonetic alphabets that have been constructed by other peoples. A
transition stage between gestures and pictographs, in which the left
hand is used as a supposed drafting surface upon which the index draws
lines, is exhibited in the DIALOGUE BETWEEN ALASKAN INDIANS, _infra_,
page 498. This device is common among deaf-mutes, without equal
archæologic importance, as it may have been suggested by the art
of writing, with which they are generally acquainted, even if not
instructed in it.

The reproduction of apparent gesture lines in the pictographs made
by our Indians has, for obvious reasons, been most frequent in the
attempt to convey those subjective ideas which were beyond the range
of an artistic skill limited to the direct representation of objects,
so that the part of the pictographs which is still the most difficult
of interpretation is precisely the one which the study of sign
language is likely to elucidate. The following examples of pictographs
of the Indians, in some cases compared with those from foreign
sources, have been selected because their interpretation is definitely
known and the gestures corresponding with or suggested by them are
well determined.

[Illustration: Fig. 155.]

[Illustration: Fig. 156.]

[Illustration: Fig. 157.]

The common Indian gesture sign for _sun_ is: "Right hand closed,
the index and thumb curved, with tips touching, thus approximating a
circle, and held toward the sky," the position of the fingers of the
hand forming a circle being shown in Fig. 155. Two of the Egyptian
characters for sun, Figs. 156 and 157, are plainly the universal
conception of the disk. The latter, together with indications of rays,
Fig. 158, and in its linear form, Fig. 159, (Champollion, _Dict._,
9), constitutes the Egyptian character for _light_. The rays emanating
from the whole disk appear in Figs. 160 and 161, taken from a MS.
contributed by Mr. G.K. GILBERT of the United States Geological
Survey, from the rock etchings of the Moqui pueblos in Arizona. The
same authority gives from the same locality Figs. 162 and 163 for
_sun_, which may be distinguished from several other similar etchings
for _star_ also given by him, Figs. 164, 165, 166, 167, by always
showing some indication of a face, the latter being absent in the
characters denoting _star_.

[Illustration: Fig. 158.]

[Illustration: Fig. 159.]

[Illustration: Fig. 160.]

[Illustration: Fig. 161.]

[Illustration: Fig. 162.]

[Illustration: Fig. 163.]

With the above characters for sun compare Fig. 168, found at Cuzco,
Peru, and taken from Wiener's _Pérou et Bolivie, Paris_, 1880, p. 706.

[Illustration: Fig. 164.]

[Illustration: Fig. 165.]

[Illustration: Fig. 166.]

[Illustration: Fig. 167.]

The Ojibwa pictograph for sun is seen in Fig. 169, taken from
Schoolcraft, _loc. cit._, v. 1, pl. 56, Fig. 67.

[Illustration: Fig. 168.]

[Illustration: Fig. 169.]

A gesture sign for _sunrise, morning_, is: Forefinger of right hand
crooked to represent half of the sun's disk and pointed or extended to
the left, then slightly elevated. (_Cheyenne_ II.) In this connection
it may be noted that when the gesture is carefully made in open
country the pointing would generally be to the east, and the body
turned so that its left would be in that direction. In a room in a
city, or under circumstances where the points of the compass are
not specially attended to, the left side supposes the east, and the
gestures relating to sun, day, &c., are made with such reference. The
half only of the disk represented in the above gesture appears in the
following Moqui pueblo etchings for _morning_ and _sunrise_, Figs.
170, 171, and 172. (Gilbert, _MS._)

[Illustration: Fig. 170.]

[Illustration: Fig. 171.]

[Illustration: Fig. 172.]

[Illustration: Fig. 173.]

A common gesture for _day_ is when the index and thumb form a circle
(remaining fingers closed) and are passed from east to west.

Fig. 173 shows a pictograph found in Owen's Valley, California, a
similar one being reported in the _Ann. Rep. Geog. Survey west of the
100th Meridian for 1876, Washington_, 1876, pl. opp. p. 326, in which
the circle may indicate either _day_ or _month_ (both these gestures
having the same execution), the course of the sun or moon being
represented perhaps in mere contradistinction to the vertical line, or
perhaps the latter signifies _one_.

[Illustration: Fig. 174.]

[Illustration: Fig. 175.]

Fig. 174 is a pictograph of the Coyotero Apaches, found at Camp
Apache, in Arizona, reported in the _Tenth Ann. Rep. U.S. Geolog. and
Geograph. Survey of the Territories for 1876_, _Washington_, 1878,
pl. lxxvii. The sun and the ten spots of approximately the same shape
represent the days, eleven, which the party with five pack mules
passed in traveling through the country. The separating lines are the
nights, and may include the conception of covering over and consequent
obscurity above referred to (page 354).

[Illustration: Fig. 176.]

A common sign for _moon, month_, is the right hand closed, leaving
the thumb and index extended, but curved to form a half circle and the
hand held toward the sky, in a position which is illustrated in Fig.
175, to which curve the Moqui etching, Fig. 176, and the identical
form in the ancient Chinese has an obvious resemblance.

[Illustration: Fig. 177.]

The crescent, as we commonly figure the satellite, appears also in
the Ojibwa pictograph, Fig. 177 (Schoolcraft, I, pl. 58), which is the
same, with a slight addition, as the Egyptian figurative character.

[Illustration: Fig. 178.]

[Illustration: Fig. 179.]

The sign for _sky_, also _heaven_, is generally made by passing the
index from east to west across the zenith. This curve is apparent in
the Ojibwa pictograph Fig. 178, reported in Schoolcraft, I, pl. 18,
Fig. 21, and is abbreviated in the Egyptian character with the same
meaning, Fig. 179 (Champollion, _Dict._, p. 1).

[Illustration: Fig. 180.]

[Illustration: Fig. 181.]

[Illustration: Fig. 182.]

A sign for _cloud_ is as follows: (1) Both hands partially closed,
palms facing and near each other, brought up to level with or slightly
above, but in front of the head; (2) suddenly separated sidewise,
describing a curve like a scallop; this scallop motion is repeated for
"many clouds." (_Cheyenne_ II.) The same conception is in the Moqui
etchings, Figs. 180, 181, and 182 (Gilbert _MS._)

[Illustration: Fig. 183.]

The Ojibwa pictograph for _cloud_ is more elaborate, Fig. 183,
reported in Schoolcraft, I, pl. 58. It is composed of the sign for
_sky_, to which that for _clouds_ is added, the latter being reversed
as compared with the Moqui etchings, and picturesquely hanging from
the sky.

[Illustration: Fig. 184.]

[Illustration: Fig. 185.]

The gesture sign for _rain_ is described and illustrated on page
344. The pictograph, Fig. 184, reported as found in New Mexico by
Lieutenant Simpson (_Ex. Doc. No. 64, Thirty-first Congress, first
session_, 1850, pl. 9) is said to represent Montezuma's adjutants
sounding a blast to him for rain. The small character inside the curve
which represents the sky, corresponds with the gesturing hand. The
Moqui etching (Gilbert _MS._) for _rain_, i.e., a cloud from which the
drops are falling, is given in Fig. 185.

[Illustration: Fig. 186.]

[Illustration: Fig. 187.]

The same authority gives two signs for _lightning_, Figs. 186 and 187.
In the latter the sky is shown, the changing direction of the streak,
and clouds with rain falling. The part relating specially to the
streak is portrayed in a sign as follows: Right hand elevated before
and above the head, forefinger pointing upward, brought down with
great rapidity with a sinuous, undulating motion; finger still
extended diagonally downward toward the right. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

[Illustration: Fig. 188.]

[Illustration: Fig. 189.]

Figs. 188 and 189 also represent _lightning_, taken by Mr. W.H.
Jackson, photographer of the late U.S. Geolog. and Geog. Survey, from
the decorated walls of an estufa in the Pueblo de Jemez, New Mexico.
The former is blunt, for harmless, and the latter terminating in an
arrow or spear point, for destructive or fatal, lightning.

[Illustration: Fig. 190.]

[Illustration: Fig. 191.]

A common sign for _speech, speak_, among the Indians is the repeated
motion of the index in a straight line forward from the mouth. This
line, indicating the voice, is shown in Fig. 190, taken from
the _Dakota Calendar_, being the expression for the fact that
"the-Elk-that-hollows-walking," a Minneconjou chief, "made medicine."
The ceremony is indicated by the head of an albino buffalo. A more
graphic portraiture of the conception of _voice_ is in Fig. 191,
representing an antelope and the whistling sound produced by the
animal on being surprised or alarmed. This is taken from MS. drawing
book of an Indian prisoner at Saint Augustine, Fla., now in the
Smithsonian Institution, No. 30664.

[Illustration: Fig. 192.]

Fig. 192 is the exhibition of wrestling for a turkey, the point of
interest in the present connection being the lines from the mouth to
the objects of conversation. It is taken from the above-mentioned MS.
drawing book.

The wrestlers, according to the foot prints, had evidently come
together, when, meeting the returning hunter, who is wrapped in his
blanket with only one foot protruding, they separated and threw off
their blankets, leggings, and moccasins, both endeavoring to win the
turkey, which lies between them and the donor.

In Fig. 193, taken from the same MS. drawing book, the conversation is
about the lassoing, shooting, and final killing of a buffalo which has
wandered to a camp. The dotted lines indicate footprints. The Indian
drawn under the buffalo having secured the animal by the fore feet, so
informs his companions, as indicated by the line drawn from his mouth
to the object mentioned; the left-hand figure, having also secured
the buffalo by the horns, gives his nearest comrade an opportunity to
strike it with an ax, which he no doubt announces that he will do, as
the line from his mouth to the head of the animal suggests. The Indian
in the upper left-hand corner is told by a squaw to take an arrow and
join his companions, when he turns his head to inform her that he has
one already, which fact he demonstrates by holding up the weapon.

[Illustration: Fig. 193.]

The Mexican pictograph, Fig. 194, taken from Kingsborough, II, pt. 1,
p. 100, is illustrative of the sign made by the Arikara and Hidatsa
for _tell_ and _conversation_. _Tell me_ is: Place the flat right
hand, palm upward, about fifteen inches in front of the right side of
the face, fingers pointing to the left and front; then draw the hand
inward toward and against the bottom of the chin. For _conversation_,
talking between two persons, both hands are held before the breast,
pointing forward, palms up, the edges being moved several times toward
one another. Perhaps, however, the picture in fact only means the
common poetical image of "flying words."

[Illustration: Fig. 194.]

Fig. 195 is one of Landa's characters, found in _Rel. des choses de
Yucatan_ p. 316, and suggests one of the gestures for _talk_ and
more especially that for _sing_, in which the extended and separated
fingers are passed forward and slightly downward from the mouth--"many
voices." Although the last opinion about the bishop is unfavorable to
the authenticity of his work, yet even if it were prepared by a Maya,
under his supervision, the latter would probably have given him some
genuine native conceptions, and among them gestures would be likely to

[Illustration: Fig. 195.]

The natural sign for _hear_, made both by Indians and deaf-mutes,
consisting in the motion of the index, or the index and thumb joined,
in a straight line to the ear, is illustrated in the Ojibwa pictograph
Fig. 196, "hearing ears," and those of the same people, Figs. 197 and
198, the latter of which is a hearing serpent, and the former means "I
hear, but your words are from a bad heart," the hands being thrown out
as in the final part of a gesture for _bad heart_, which is made by
the hand being closed and held near the breast, with the back toward
the breast, then as the arm is suddenly extended the hand is opened
and the fingers separated from each other. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 196.]

[Illustration: Fig. 197.]

[Illustration: Fig. 198.]

The final part of the gesture, representing the idea of _bad_, not
connected with heart, is illustrated in Fig. 236 on page 411.

The above Ojibwa pictographs are taken from Schoolcraft, _loc. cit._
I, plates 58, 53, 59.

Fig. 199, a bas-relief taken from Dupaix's Monuments of New Spain, in
Kingsborough, _loc. cit._ IV, pt. 3, p. 31, has been considered to be
a royal edict or command. The gesture _to hear_ is plainly depicted,
and the right hand is directed to the persons addressed, so the
command appears to be uttered with the preface of _Hear Ye! Oyez!_

[Illustration: Fig. 199.]

[Illustration: Fig. 200.]

The typical sign for _kill_ or _killed_ is: Right hand clinched,
thumb lying along finger tips, elevated to near the shoulder, strike
downward and outward vaguely in the direction of the object to be
killed. The abbreviated sign is simply to clinch the right hand in
the manner described and strike it down and out from the right side.
(_Cheyenne_ II.) This gesture, also appears among the Dakotas and is
illustrated in Fig. 200.

[Illustration: Fig. 201.]

Fig. 201, taken from the _Dakota Calendar_, illustrates this gesture.
It represents the year in which a Minneconjou chief was stabbed in the
shoulder by a Gros Ventre, and afterwards named "Dead Arm" or "Killed
Arm." At first the figure was supposed to show the permanent drawing
up of the arm by anchylosis, but that would not be likely to be the
result of the wound described, and with knowledge of the gesture the
meaning is more clear.

[Illustration: Fig. 202.]

Fig. 202, taken from _Report upon the Reconnaissance of Northwestern
Wyoming, &c., Washington_, 1875, p. 207, Fig. 53, found in the Wind
River Valley, Wyoming Territory, was interpreted by members of a
Shoshoni and Banak delegation to Washington in 1880 as "an Indian
killed another." The latter is very roughly delineated in the
horizontal figure, but is also represented by the line under the hand
of the upright figure, meaning the same individual. At the right is
the scalp taken and the two feathers showing the dead warrior's rank.
The arm nearest the prostrate foe shows the gesture for _killed_.

[Illustration: Fig. 203.]

The same gesture appears in Fig. 203, from the same authority and
locality. The scalp is here held forth, and the numeral _one_ is
designated by the stroke at the bottom.

Fig. 204, from the same locality and authority, was also interpreted
by the Shoshoni and Banak. It appears from their description that a
Blackfoot had attacked the habitation of some of his own people. The
right-hand upper figure represents his horse with the lance suspended
from the side. The lower figure illustrates the log house built
against a stream. The dots are the prints of the horse's hoofs, while
the two lines running outward from the upper inclosure show that
two thrusts of the lance were made over the wall of the house,
thus killing the occupant and securing two bows and five arrows, as
represented in the left-hand group. The right-hand figure of that
group shows the hand raised in the attitude of making the gesture for

[Illustration: Fig. 204.]

As the Blackfeet, according to the interpreters, were the only Indians
in the locality mentioned who constructed log houses, the drawing
becomes additionally interesting, as an attempt appears to have
been made to illustrate the crossing of the logs at the corners, the
gesture for which (_log-house_) will be found on page 428.

Fig. 205 is the Egyptian character for _veneration, to glorify_
(Champollion, _Dict._, 29), the author's understanding being that the
hands are raised in surprise, astonishment.

[Illustration: Fig. 205.]

The Menomoni Indians now begin their prayers by raising their hands in
the same manner. They may have been influenced in this respect by
the attitudes of their missionaries in prayer and benediction. The
Apaches, who have received less civilized tuition, in a religious
gesture corresponding with prayer spread their hands opposite the
face, palms up and backward, apparently expressing the desire to

[Illustration: Fig. 206.]

Fig. 206 is a copy of an Egyptian tablet reproduced from Cooper's
_Serpent Myths_, page 28. A priest kneels before the great goddess
Ranno, while supplicating her favor. The conception of the author is
that the hands are raised by the supplicant to shield his face from
the glory of the divinity. It may be compared with signs for asking
for _mercy_ and for giving mercy to another, the former being: Extend
both forefingers, pointing upward, palms toward the breast, and
hold the hands before the chest; then draw them inward toward their
respective sides, and pass them up ward as high as the sides of
the head by either cheek. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.) The latter, _to have mercy on another_, as made by the
same tribes, is: Hold both hands nearly side by side before the chest,
palms forward, forefinger only extended and pointing upward; then move
them forward and upward, as if passing them by the cheeks of another
person from the breast to the sides of the head.

[Illustration: Fig. 207.]

A similar gesture for _supplication_ appears in Fig. 207, taken from
Kingsborough, _loc. cit._, III, pt. I, p. 24.

[Illustration: Fig. 208.]

An Indian gesture sign for _smoke_, and also one for _fire_, has been
described above, page 344. With the former is connected the Aztec
design (Fig. 208) taken from Pipart, _loc. cit._, II, 352, and the
latter appears in Fig. 209, taken from Kingsborough, III, pt. I, p.

[Illustration: Fig. 209.]

A sign for _medicine-man, shaman_, is thus described: "With its
index-finger extended and pointing upward, or all the fingers
extended, back of hand outward, move the right hand from just in front
of the forehead, spirally upward, nearly to arm's length, from left to
right." (_Dakota_ IV.)

[Illustration: Fig. 210.]

Fig. 210, from the _Dakota Calendar_, represents the making of
medicine or conjuration. In that case the head and horns of a white
buffalo cow were used.

[Illustration: Fig. 211.]

[Illustration: Fig. 212.]

[Illustration: Fig. 213.]

Fig. 211 is an Ojibwa pictograph taken from Schoolcraft, _loc. cit._,
representing _medicine-man, meda_. With these horns and spiral may be
collated Fig. 212 which portrays the ram-headed Egyptian god Knuphis,
or Chnum, the spirit, in a shrine on the boat of the sun, canopied
by the serpent-goddess Ranno, who is also seen facing him inside the
shrine. This is reproduced from Cooper's _Serpent Myths_, p. 24.
The same deity is represented in Champollion, _Gram._, p. 113, as
reproduced in Fig. 213.

Fig. 214 is an Ojibwa pictograph found in Schoolcraft, I, pl. 58,
and given as _power_. It corresponds with the sign for _doctor_, or
_medicine-man_, made by the Absarokas by passing the extended and
separated index and second finger of the right hand upward from
the forehead, spirally, and is considered to indicate "superior
knowledge." Among the Otos, as part of the sign with the same meaning,
both hands are raised to the side of the head, and the extended
indices pressing the temples.

[Illustration: Fig. 214.]

[Illustration: Fig. 215.]

Fig. 215 is also an Ojibwa pictograph from Schoolcraft I, pl. 59, and
is said to signify _Meda's power_. It corresponds with another sign
made for _medicine-man_ by the Absarokas and Comanches, viz, The
hand passed upward before the forehead, with index loosely extended.
Combined with the sign for _sky_, before given, page 372, it means
knowledge of superior matters; spiritual power.

The common sign for _trade_ is made by extending the forefingers,
holding them obliquely upward, and crossing them at right angles to
one another, usually in front of the chest. This is often abbreviated
by merely crossing the forefingers, see Fig. 278, page 452. It is
illustrated in Fig. 216, taken from the Prince of Wied's _Travels in
the Interior of North America; London_, 1843, p. 352.

[Illustration: Fig. 216.]

To this the following explanation is given: "The cross signifies, 'I
will barter or trade.' Three animals are drawn on the right hand
of the cross; one is a buffalo; the two others, a weasel (_Mustela
Canadensis_) and an otter. The writer offers in exchange for the
skins of these animals (probably meaning that of a white buffalo) the
articles which he has drawn on the left side of the cross. He has, in
the first place, depicted a beaver very plainly, behind which there
is a gun; to the left of the beaver are thirty strokes, each ten
separated by a longer line; this means, I will give thirty beaver
skins and a gun for the skins of the three animals on the right hand
of the cross."

Fig. 217 is from Kingsborough, III, pt. 1, p. 25, and illustrates
the sign for to _give_ or _to present_, made by the Brulé-Dakotas by
holding both hands edgewise before the breast, pointing forward and
upward, the right above the left, then throwing them quickly downward
until the forearms reach a horizontal position.

[Illustration: Fig. 217.]

Fig. 218 is taken from the _Dakota Calendar_, representing a
successful raid of the Absarokas or Crows upon the Brulé-Sioux, in
which the village of the latter was surprised and a large number of
horses captured. That capture is exhibited by the horse-tracks moving
from the _village_, the gesture sign for which is often made by a
circle formed either by the opposed thumbs and forefingers of both
hands or by a circular motion of both hands, palms inward, toward
each other. In some cases there is a motion of the circle, from above
downward, as formed.

[Illustration: Fig. 218.]

Fig. 219, from Kingsborough I, pt. 3, p. 10, represents _Chapultepec_,
"Mountain of the Locust," by one enormous locust on top of a hill.
This shows the mode of augmentation in the same manner as is often
done by an exaggerated gesture. The curves at the base of the
mountain are intelligible only as being formed in the sign for _many_,
described on pages 359 and 488.

[Illustration: Fig. 219.]

Fig. 220, taken from Pipart, _loc. cit._, is the Mexican pictograph
for _soil cultivated_, i.e., tilled and planted. Fig. 221, from the
same authority, shows the sprouts coming from the cultivated soil, and
may be compared with the signs for _grass_ and _grow_ on page 343.

[Illustration: Fig. 220.]

[Illustration: Fig. 221.]

The gesture sign for _road, path_, is sometimes made by indicating
two lines forward from the body, then imitating walking with the hands
upon the imaginary road. The same natural representation of road is
seen in Fig. 222, taken from Pipart, _loc. cit._, page 352. A
place where two roads meet--cross-roads--is shown in Fig. 223, from
Kingsborough. Two persons are evidently having a chat in sign language
at the cross-roads.

[Illustration: Fig. 222.]

[Illustration: Fig. 223.]

[Illustration: Fig. 224.]

If no gesture is actually included in all of the foregoing
pictographs, it is seen that a gesture sign is made with the same
conception which is obvious in the ideographic pictures. They are
selected as specially transparent and clear. Many others less distinct
are now the subject of examination for elucidation. The following
examples are added to show the ideographic style of pictographs not
connected with gestures, lest it may be suspected that an attempt is
made to prove that gestures are always included in or connected with
them. Fig. 224, from the _Dakota Calendar_, refers to the small-pox
which broke out in the year (1802) which it specifies. Fig. 225 shows
in the design at the left, a warning or notice, that though a goat can
climb up the rocky trail a horse will tumble--"No Thoroughfare." This
was contributed by Mr. J.K. Hillers, photographer of the United States
Geological Survey, as observed by him in Cañon De Chelly, New Mexico,
in 1880.

[Illustration: Fig. 225.]


The present limits permit only a few examples of the manner in which
the signs of Indians refer to sociologic, religious, historic, and
other ethnologic facts. They may incite research to elicit further
information of the same character.

[Illustration: Fig. 226.]

[Illustration: Fig. 227.]

The Prince of Wied gives in his list of signs the heading _Partisan_,
a term of the Canadian voyageurs, signifying a leader of an occasional
or volunteer war party, the sign being reported as follows: Make first
the sign of the pipe, afterwards open the thumb and index-finger of
the right hand, back of the hand outward, and move it forward and
upward in a curve. This is explained by the author's account in a
different connection, that to become recognized as a leader of such a
war party as above mentioned, the first act among the tribes using
the sign was the consecration, by fasting succeeded by feasting, of
a medicine pipe without ornament, which the leader of the expedition
afterward bore before him as his badge of authority, and it therefore
naturally became an emblematic sign. This sign with its interpretation
supplies a meaning to Fig. 226 from the _Dakota Calendar_ showing
"One Feather," a Sioux chief who raised in that year a large war party
against the Crows, which fact is simply denoted by his holding out
demonstratively an unornamented pipe. In connection with this subject,
Fig. 227, drawn and explained by Two Strike, an Ogalala Dakota,
relating to his own achievements, displays four plain pipes to exhibit
the fact that he had led four war parties.

[Illustration: Fig. 228.]

The sign of the pipe or of smoking is made in a different manner, when
used to mean _friend_, as follows: (1) Tips of the two first fingers
of the right hand placed against or at right angles to the mouth;
(2) suddenly elevated upward and outward to imitate smoke expelled.
(_Cheyenne_ II). "We two smoke together." This is illustrated in the
Ojibwa pictograph, Fig. 228, taken from Schoolcraft I, pl. 59.

[Illustration: Fig. 229.]

A ceremonial sign for _peace, friendship_, is the extended fingers,
separated (R), interlocked in front of the breast, hands horizontal,
backs outward. (_Dakota_ I.) Fig. 229 from the _Dakota Calendar_
exhibits the beginning of this gesture. When the idea conveyed is
peace or friendship with the whites, the hand shaking of the latter
is adopted as in Fig. 230, also taken from the _Dakota Calendar_, and
referring to the peace made in 1855 by General Harney, at Fort Pierre,
with a number of the tribes of the Dakotas.

[Illustration: Fig. 230.]

It is noticeable that while the ceremonial gesture of uniting or
linking hands is common and ancient in token of peace, the practice of
shaking hands on meeting, now the annoying etiquette of the Indians in
their intercourse with whites, was not until very recently and is even
now seldom used by them between each other, and is clearly a foreign
importation. Their fancy for affectionate greeting was in giving
a pleasant bodily, sensation by rubbing each other on the breast,
abdomen, and limbs, or by a hug. The senseless and inconvenient custom
of shaking hands is, indeed, by no means general throughout the world,
and in the extent to which it prevails in the United States is
a subject of ridicule by foreigners. The Chinese, with a higher
conception of politeness, shake their own hands. The account of a
recent observer of the meeting of two polite Celestials is: "Each
placed the fingers of one hand over the fist of the other, so that the
thumbs met, and then standing a few feet apart raised his hands gently
up and down in front of his breast. For special courtesy, after the
foregoing gesture, they place the hand which had been the actor in it
on the stomach of its owner, not on that part of the interlocutor, the
whole proceeding being subjective, but perhaps a relic of objective
performance." In Miss Bird's _Unbeaten Trades in Japan, London_, 1880,
the following is given as the salutatory etiquette of that empire: "As
acquaintances come in sight of each other they slacken their pace
and approach with downcast eyes and averted faces as if neither were
worthy of beholding each other; then they bow low, so low as to bring
the face, still kept carefully averted, on a level with the knees,
on which the palms of the hands are pressed. Afterwards, during the
friendly strife of each to give the _pas_ to the other, the palms of
the hands are diligently rubbed against each other."

[Illustration: Fig. 231.]

The interlocking of the fingers of both hands above given as an Indian
sign (other instances being mentioned under the head of SIGNALS,
_infra_) is also reported by R. Brough Smyth, _Aborigines of
Victoria_, _loc. cit._, Vol. II, p. 308, as made by the natives
of Cooper's Creek, Australia, to express the highest degree of
friendship, including a special form of hospitality in which the wives
of the entertainer performed a part. Fig. 231 is reproduced from a cut
in the work referred to.

But besides this interlocked form of signifying the union of
friendship the hands are frequently grasped together. Sometimes the
sign is abbreviated by simply extending the hand as if about to grasp
that of another, and sometimes the two forefingers are laid side by
side, which last sign also means, _same, brother_ and _companion_. For
description and illustration of these three signs, see respectively
pages 521, 527, and 317. A different execution of the same conception
of union or linking to signify _friend_ is often made as follows: Hook
the curved index over the curved forefinger of the left hand, the
palm of the latter pointing forward, the palm of the right hand being
turned toward the face; remaining fingers and thumbs being closed.
(_Dakota_ VIII.) Fig. 232.

[Illustration: Fig. 232.]

Wied's sign for medicine is "Stir with the right hand into the left,
and afterward blow into the latter." All persons familiar with the
Indians will understand that the term "medicine," foolishly enough
adopted by both French and English to express the aboriginal magic
arts, has no therapeutic significance. Very few even pretended
remedies were administered to the natives and probably never by the
professional shaman, who worked by incantation, often pulverizing and
mixing the substances mystically used, to prevent their detection.
The same mixtures were employed in divination. The author particularly
mentions Mandan ceremonies, in which a white "medicine" stone, as
hard as pyrites, was produced by rubbing in the hand snow or the white
feathers of a bird. The blowing away of the disease, considered to be
introduced by a supernatural power foreign to the body, was a common
part of the juggling performance.

A sign for _stone_ is 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 point in opposite directions. (_Dakota_ I.)
From its use when the stone was the only hammer.

A suggestive sign for _knife_ is reported, viz: Cut past the mouth
with the raised right hand. (_Wied._) This probably refers to the
general practice of cutting off food, as much being crammed into the
mouth as can be managed and then separated from the remaining mass
by a stroke of a knife. This is specially the usage with fat and
entrails, the Indian delicacies.

An old sign for _tomahawk, ax_, is as follows: Cross the arms and
slide the edge of the right hand, held vertically, down over the left
arm. (_Wied._) This is still employed, at least for a small hatchet,
or "dress tomahawk," and would be unintelligible without special
knowledge. The essential point is laying the extended right hand in
the bend of the left elbow. The sliding down over the left arm is an
almost unavoidable but quite unnecessary accompaniment to the sign,
which indicates the way in which the hatchet is usually carried.
Pipes, whips, bows and arrows, fans, and other dress or emblematic
articles of the "buck" are seldom or never carried in the bend of the
left elbow as is the ax. The pipe is usually held in the left hand.

The following sign for _Indian village_ is given by Wied: Place the
open thumb and forefinger of each hand opposite to each other, as if
to make a circle, but leaving between them a small interval; afterward
move them from above downward simultaneously. The villages of the
tribes with which the author was longest resident, particularly the
Mandans and Arikaras, were surrounded by a strong circular stockade,
spaces or breaks in the circle being left for entrance or exit.

Signs for _dog_ are made by some of the tribes of the plains
essentially the same as the following: Extend and spread the right,
fore, and middle fingers, and draw the hand about eighteen inches from
left to right across the front of the body at the height of the navel,
palm downward, fingers pointing toward the left and a little downward,
little and ring fingers to be loosely closed, the thumb against the
ring-finger. (_Dakota_ IV.) The sign would not be intelligible without
knowledge of the fact that before the introduction of the horse, and
even yet, the dog has been used to draw the tent- or lodge-poles in
moving camp, and the sign represents the trail. Indians less nomadic,
who built more substantial lodges, and to whom the material for poles
was less precious than on the plains, would not have comprehended this
sign without such explanation as is equivalent to a translation from
a foreign language, and the more general one is the palm lowered as if
to stroke gently in a line conforming to the animal's head and neck.
It is abbreviated by simply lowering the hand to the usual height
of the wolfish aboriginal breed, and suggests _the_ animal _par
excellence_ domesticated by the Indians and made a companion.

Several examples connected with this heading may be noticed under the
preceding head of gestures connected with pictographs, and others of
historic interest will be found among the TRIBAL SIGNS, _infra_.


It is considered desirable to indicate some points to which for
special reasons the attention of collaborators for the future
publication on the general subject of sign language may be invited.
These now follow:


It is probable that signs will often be invented by individual Indians
who may be pressed for them by collectors to express certain ideas,
which signs of course form no part of any current language; but while
that fact should, if possible, be ascertained and reported, the signs
so invented are not valueless merely because they are original and not
traditional, if they are made in good faith and in accordance with the
principles of sign formation. Less error will arise in this direction
than from the misinterpretation of the idea intended to be conveyed by
spontaneous signs. The process resembles the coining of new words to
which the higher languages owe their copiousness. It is observed in
the signs invented by Indians for each new product of civilization
brought to their notice.

An interesting instance is in the sign for _steamboat_, made at the
request of the writer by White Man (who, however, did not like that
sobriquet and announced his intention to change his name to Lean
Bear), an Apache, in June, 1880, who had a few days before seen a
steamboat for the first time. After thinking a moment he gave an
original sign, described as follows:

Make the sign for _water_, by placing the flat right hand before the
face, pointing upward and forward, the back forward, with the wrist as
high as the nose; then draw it down and inward toward the chin; then
with both hands indicate the outlines of a horizontal oval figure
from before the body back to near the chest (being the outline of the
deck); then place both flat hands, pointing forward, thumbs
higher than the outer edges, and push them forward to arms'-length
(illustrating the powerful forward motion of the vessel).

An original sign for _telegraph_ is given in NÁTCI'S NARRATIVE,

An Indian skilled in signs, as also a deaf-mute, at the sight of a
new object, or at the first experience of some new feeling or mental
relation, will devise some mode of expressing it in pantomimic gesture
or by a combination of previously understood signs, which will be
intelligible to others, similarly skilled, provided that they have
seen the same objects or have felt the same emotions. But if a number
of such Indians or deaf-mutes were to see an object--for instance an
elephant--for the first time, each would perhaps hit upon a different
sign, in accordance with the characteristic appearance most striking
to him. That animal's trunk is generally the most attractive lineament
to deaf-mutes, who make a sign by pointing to the nose and moving the
arm as the trunk is moved. Others regard the long tusks as the most
significant feature, while others are struck by the large head and
small eyes. This diversity of conception brings to mind the poem of
"The Blind Men and the Elephant," which with true philosophy in an
amusing guise explains how the sense of touch led the "six men of
Indostan" severally to liken the animal to a wall, spear, snake,
tree, fan, and rope. A consideration of invented or original signs,
as showing the operation of the mind of an Indian or other uncivilized
gesturer, has a psychologic interest, and as connected with the vocal
expression, often also invented at the same time, has further value.


In the examination of sign language it is important to form a clear
distinction between signs proper and symbols. The terms signs
and symbols are often used interchangeably, but with liability to
misconstruction, as many persons, whether with right or wrong lexical
definition, ascribe to symbols an occult and mystic signification. All
characters in Indian picture-writing have been loosely styled symbols,
and, as there is no logical distinction, between the characters
impressed with enduring form and when merely outlined in the ambient
air, all Indian gestures, motions, and attitudes might with equal
appropriateness be called symbolic. While, however, all symbols
come under the generic head of signs, very few signs are in accurate
classification symbols. S.T. Coleridge has defined a symbol to be a
sign included in the idea it represents. This may be intelligible if
it is intended that an ordinary sign is extraneous to the concept
and, rather than suggested by it, is invented to express it by some
representation or analogy, while a symbol may be evolved by a process
of thought from the concept itself; but it is no very exhaustive or
practically useful distinction. Symbols are less obvious and more
artificial than mere signs, require convention, are not only abstract,
but metaphysical, and often need explanation from history, religion,
and customs. They do not depict but suggest subjects; do not speak
directly through the eye to the intelligence, but presuppose in the
mind knowledge of an event or fact which the sign recalls. The
symbols of the ark, dove, olive branch, and rainbow would be wholly
meaningless to people unfamiliar with the Mosaic or some similar
cosmology, as would be the cross and the crescent to those ignorant
of history. The last named objects appeared in the class of _emblems_
when used in designating the conflicting powers of Christendom and
Islamism. Emblems do not necessarily require any analogy between the
objects representing, and the objects or qualities represented, but
may arise from pure accident. After a scurrilous jest the beggar's
wallet became the emblem of the confederated nobles, the Gueux of
the Netherlands; and a sling, in the early minority of Louis XIV,
was adopted from the refrain of a song by the Frondeur opponents of
Mazarin. The portraiture of a fish, used, especially by the early
Christians, for the name and title of Jesus Christ was still
more accidental, being, in the Greek word [Greek: ichthus], an
acrostic composed of the initials of the several Greek words
signifying that name and title. This origin being unknown to persons
whose religious enthusiasm was as usual in direct proportion to their
ignorance, they expended much rhetoric to prove that there was some
true symbolic relation between an actual fish and the Saviour of men.
Apart from this misapplication, the fish undoubtedly became an emblem
of Christ and of Christianity, appearing frequently on the Roman
catacombs and at one time it was used hermeneutically.

The several tribal signs for the Sioux, Arapahos, Cheyennes, &c.,
are their emblems precisely as the star-spangled flag is that of the
United States, but there is nothing symbolic in any of them. So the
signs for individual chiefs, when not merely translations of their
names, are emblematic of their family totems or personal distinctions,
and are no more symbols than are the distinctive shoulder-straps of
army officers. The _crux ansata_ and the circle formed by a snake
biting its tail are symbols, but _consensus_ as well as invention
was necessary for their establishment, and the Indians have produced
nothing so esoteric, nothing which they intended for hermeneutic as
distinct from descriptive or mnemonic purposes. Sign language can
undoubtedly be and is employed to express highly metaphysical ideas,
but to do that in a symbolic system requires a development of the
mode of expression consequent upon a similar development of the mental
idiocrasy of the gesturers far beyond any yet found among historic
tribes north of Mexico. A very few of their signs may at first appear
to be symbolic, yet even those on closer examination will probably be
relegated to the class of emblems.

The point urged is that while many signs can be used as emblems and
both can be converted by convention into symbols or be explained as
such by perverted ingenuity, it is futile to seek for that form of
psychologic exuberance in the stage of development attained by the
tribes now under consideration. All predetermination to interpret
either their signs or their pictographs on the principles of symbolism
as understood or pretended to be understood by its admirers, and
as are sometimes properly applied to Egyptian hieroglyphs, results
in mooning mysticism. This was shown by a correspondent who
enthusiastically lauded the _Dakota Calendar_ (edited by the present
writer, and which is a mere figuration of successive occurrences in
the history of the people), as a numerical exposition of the great
doctrines of the Sun religion in the equations of time, and proved to
his own satisfaction that our Indians preserved hermeneutically the
lost geometric cultus of pre-Cushite scientists.

Another exhibition of this vicious practice was recently made in the
interpretation of an inscribed stone alleged to have been unearthed
near Zanesville, Ohio. Two of the characters were supposed, in liberal
exercise of the imagination, to represent the [Greek letter: Alpha]
and [Greek letter: Omega] of the Greek alphabet. At the comparatively
late date when the arbitrary arrangement of the letters of that
alphabet had become fixed, the initial and concluding letters might
readily have been used to represent respectively the beginning and the
end of any series or number of things, and this figure of speech was
employed in the book of Revelations. In the attempted interpretation
of the inscription mentioned, which was hawked about to many scientific
bodies, and published over the whole country, the supposed alpha
and omega were assumed to constitute a universal as well as sacred
symbol for the everlasting Creator. The usual _menu_ of Roman feasts,
commencing with eggs and ending with apples, was also commonly known
at the time when the book of Revelations was written, and the phrase
"_ab ovo usque ad mala_" was as appropriate as "from alpha to omega" to
express "from the beginning to the end." In deciphering the stone it
would, therefore, be as correct in principle to take one of its oval
and one of its round figures, call them egg and apple, and make them
the symbols of eternity. In fact, not depending wholly for significance
upon the order of courses of a feast or the accident of alphabetical
position, but having intrinsic characteristics in reference to the
origin and fruition of life, the egg and apple translation, would
be more acceptable to the general judgment, and it is recommended to
enthusiasts who insist on finding symbols where none exist.


For reasons before given it is important to ascertain the varying
extent of familiarity with sign language among the members of the
several tribes, how large a proportion possesses any skill in it, and
the average amount of their vocabulary. It is also of special interest
to learn the degree to which women become proficient, and the age
at which children commence its practice; also whether they receive
systematic instruction in it. The statement was made by Titchkemátski
that the Kaiowa and Comanche women know nothing of sign language,
while the Cheyenne women are versed in it. As he is a Cheyenne,
however, he may not have a large circle of feminine acquaintances
beyond his own tribe, and his negative testimony is not valuable. Rev.
A.J. Holt, from large experience, asserts that the Kaiowa and Comanche
women do know and practice sign language, though the Cheyenne either
are more familiar with it than the Kaiowa or have a greater degree
of expertness. The Comanche women, he says, are the peers of any
sign-talkers. Colonel Dodge makes the broad assertion that even among
the Plains tribes only the old, or at least middle-aged, men use signs
properly, and that he has not seen any women or even young men who
were at all reliable in signs. He gives this statement to show the
difficulty in acquiring sign language; but it is questionable if the
fact is not simply the result of the rapid disuse of signs, in many
tribes, by which, cause women, not so frequently called upon to employ
them, and the younger generation, who have had no necessity to learn
them, do not become expert. Disappearing Mist, as before mentioned,
remembers a time when the Iroquois women and children used signs more
than the men.

It is also asserted, with some evidence, that the signs used by males
and females are different, though mutually understood, and some
minor points for observation may be indicated, such as whether the
commencement of counting upon the fingers is upon those of the right
or the left hand, and whether Indians take pains to look toward the
south when suggesting the course of the sun, which would give the
motion from left to right.

       *       *       *       *       *

A suggestion has been made by a correspondent that some secret signs
of affiliation are known and used by the members of the several
associations, religious and totemic, which have been often noticed
among several Indian tribes. No evidence of this has been received,
but the point is worth attention.


In many cases positive signs to convey some particular idea are not
reported, and in their place a sign with the opposite signification
is given, coupled with the sign of negation. In other words, the only
mode of expressing the intended meaning is supposed to be by negation
of the reverse of what it is desired to describe. In this manner
"fool--no," would be "wise," and "good--no," would be "bad." This mode
of expression is very frequent as a matter of option when the positive
signs are in fact also used. The reported absence of positive signs
for the ideas negatived is therefore often made with as little
propriety as if when an ordinary speaker chose to use the negative
form "not good," it should be inferred that he was ignorant of the
word "bad." It will seldom prove, on proper investigation, that where
sign language has reached and retained any high degree of development
it will show such poverty as to require the expedient of negation of
an affirmative to express an idea which is intrinsically positive.


The signs of the Indians appear to consist of motions more often
than of positions--a fact enhancing the difficulty both of their
description and illustration--and the motions when not designedly
abbreviated are generally large, free, and striking, seldom minute.
It seems also to be the general rule among Indians as among deaf-mutes
that the point of the finger is used to trace outlines and the palm
of the hand to describe surfaces. From an examination of the identical
signs made to each other for the same object by Indians of the same
tribe and band, they appear to make many gestures with little regard
to the position of the fingers and to vary in such arrangement from
individual taste. Some of the elaborate descriptions, giving with
great detail the attitude of the fingers of any particular gesturer
and the inches traced by his motions, are of as little necessity as
would be, when quoting a written word, a careful reproduction of the
flourishes of tailed letters and the thickness of down-strokes in
individual chirography. The fingers must be in _some_ position, but
that is frequently accidental, not contributing to the general and
essential effect. An example may be given in the sign for _white man_
which Medicine Bull, _infra_, page 491, made by drawing the palmar
surface of the extended index across the forehead, and in LEAN WOLF'S
COMPLAINT, _infra_, page 526, the same motion is made by the back of
the thumb pressed upon the middle joint of the index, fist closed. The
execution as well as the conception in both cases was the indication
of the line of the hat on the forehead, and the position of the
fingers in forming the line is altogether immaterial. There is often
also a custom or "fashion" in which not only different tribes, but
different persons in the same tribe, gesture the same sign with
different degrees of beauty, for there is calligraphy in sign
language, though no recognized orthography. It is nevertheless better
to describe and illustrate with unnecessary minuteness than to fail
in reporting a real distinction. There are, also, in fact, many
signs formed by mere positions of the fingers, some of which are
abbreviations, but in others the arrangement of the fingers in itself
forms a picture. An instance of the latter is one of the signs given
for the _bear_, viz.: Middle and third finger of right hand clasped
down by the thumb, fore and little finger extended crooked downward.
See EXTRACTS FROM DICTIONARY, _infra_. This reproduction, of the
animals peculiar claws, with the hand and in any position relative
to the body, would suffice without the pantomime of scratching in the
air, which is added only if the sign without it should not be at once


[Illustration: Fig. 233.]

The specified relation of the positions and motions of the hands
to different parts of the body is essential to the formation and
description of many signs. Those for _speak, hear_, and _see_,
which must be respectively made relative to the mouth, ear and eye,
are manifest examples; and there are others less obviously dependent
upon parts of the body, such as the heart or head, which would not
be intelligible without apposition. There are also some directly
connected with height from the ground and other points of reference.
In, however, a large proportion of the signs noted the position of
the hands with reference to the body can be varied or disregarded.
The hands making the motions can be held high or low, as the gesturer
is standing or sitting, or the person addressed is distant or near
by. These variations have been partly discussed under the head of
abbreviations. While descriptions made with great particularity are
cumbrous, it is desirable to give the full detail of that gesture
which most clearly carries out the generic conception, with, if
possible, also the description of such deviations and abbreviations
as are most confusing. For instance, it is well to explain that signs
for yes and no, described with precise detail as in EXTRACTS FROM
DICTIONARY, _infra_, are also often made by an Indian when wrapped
in his blanket with only a forefinger protruding, the former by a
mere downward and the latter by a simple outward bend of that finger.
An example may be also taken from the following sign for _lie,
falsehood_, made by an Ankara, Fig. 233. in which the separated index
and second fingers are moved sidewise in a downward line near but
below the mouth, which may be compared with other executions of the
motion with the same position of the fingers directly forward from the
mouth, and with that given in LEAN WOLF'S COMPLAINT, illustrated on
page 528, in which the motion is made carelessly across the body.
The original sign was undoubtedly made directly from the mouth, the
conception being "two tongues," two accounts or opposed statements,
one of which must be false, but the finger-position coming to be
established for two tongues has relation to the original conception
whether or not made near or in reference to the mouth, the latter
being understood.

It will thus be seen that sometimes the position of the fingers
is material as forming or suggesting a figure without reference to
motion, while in other cases the relative position of the hands
to each other and to parts of the body are significant without any
special arrangement of the fingers. Again, in others, the lines drawn
in the air by the hand or hands execute the conception without further
detail. In each case only the essential details, when they can be
ascertained, should be minutely described.


The object always should be, not to translate from English into signs,
but to ascertain the real signs and their meaning. By far the most
satisfactory mode of obtaining this result is to induce Indians or
other gesturers observed to tell stories, make speeches, or hold talks
in gesture, with one of themselves as interpreter in his own oral
language if the latter is understood by the observer, and, if not,
the words, not the signs, should be translated by an intermediary
linguistic interpreter. It will be easy afterward to dissect and
separate the particular signs used. This mode will determine the
genuine shade of meaning of each sign, and corresponds with the plan
now adopted by the Bureau of Ethnology for the study of the tribal
vocal languages, instead of that arising out of exclusively missionary
purposes, which was to force a translation of the Bible from a tongue
not adapted to its terms and ideas, and then to compile a grammar and
dictionary from the artificial result. A little ingenuity will direct
the more intelligent or complaisant gesturers to the expression of
the thoughts, signs for which are specially sought; and full orderly
descriptions of such tales and talks with or even without analysis and
illustration are more desired than any other form of contribution.

The original authorities, or the best evidence, for Indian
signs--i.e., the Indians themselves--being still accessible, the
collaborators in this work should not be content with secondary
authority. White sign talkers and interpreters may give some genuine
signs, but they are very apt to interpolate their own improvements.
Experience has led to the apparently paradoxical judgment that the
direct contribution of signs purporting to be those of Indians, made
by a habitual practitioner of signs who is not an Indian, is less
valuable than that of a discriminating observer who is not himself
an actor in gesture speech. The former, being to himself the best
authority, unwittingly invents and modifies signs, or describes what
he thinks they ought to be, often with a very different conception
from that of an Indian. Sign language not being fixed and limited, as
is the case with oral languages, expertness in it is not necessarily
a proof of accuracy in anyone of its forms. The proper inquiry is not
what a sign might, could, would, or should be, or what is the best
sign for a particular meaning, but what is any sign actually used
for such meaning. If any one sign is honestly invented or adopted by
any one man, whether Indian, African, Asiatic, or deaf-mute, it has
its value, but it should be identified to be in accordance with the
fact and should not be subject to the suspicion that it has been
assimilated or garbled in interpretation. Its prevalence and special
range present considerations of different interest and requiring
further evidence.

The genuine signs alone should be presented to scholars, to give
their studies proper direction, while the true article can always be
adulterated into a composite jargon by those whose ambition is only to
be sign talkers instead of making an honest contribution to ethnologic
and philologic science. The few direct contributions of interpreters
to the present work are, it is believed, valuable, because they were
made without expression of self-conceit or symptom of possession by a
pet theory.


It is proper to give to all readers interested in the subject, but
particularly to those whose collaboration for the more complete work
above mentioned is solicited, an account of the mode in which the
researches have thus far been conducted and in which it is proposed
to continue them. After study of all that could be obtained in printed
form, and a considerable amount of personal correspondence, the
results were embraced in a pamphlet issued by the Bureau of Ethnology
in the early part of 1880, entitled "_Introduction to the Study of
Sign Language among the North American Indians as Illustrating the
Gesture Speech of Mankind._" In this, suggestions were made as to
points and manner of observation and report, and forms prepared to
secure uniformity and accuracy were explained, many separate sheets of
which with the pamphlet were distributed, not only to all applicants,
but to all known and accessible persons in this country and abroad
who, there was reason to hope, would take sufficient interest in the
undertaking to contribute their assistance. Those forms, TYPES OF HAND
are reproduced at the end of this paper.

The main object of those forms was to eliminate the source of
confusion produced by attempts of different persons at the difficult
description of positions and motions. The comprehensive plan required
that many persons should be at work in many parts of the world.
It will readily be understood that if a number of persons should
undertake to describe in words the same motions, whether of
pantomimists on the stage or of other gesturers, even if the visual
perception of all the observers should be the same in the apprehension
of the particular gestures, their language in description might be so
varied as to give very diverse impressions to a reader who had never
seen the gestures described. But with a set form of expressions for
the typical positions, and skeleton outlines to be filled up and, when
necessary, altered in a uniform style, this source of confusion is
greatly reduced. The graphic lines drawn to represent the positions
and motions on the same diagrams will vary but little in comparison
with the similar attempt of explanation in writing. Both modes of
description were, however, requested, each tending to supplement
and correct the other, and provision was also made for the notation
of such striking facial changes or emotional postures as might
individualize or accentuate the gestures. It was also pointed out that
the prepared sheets could be used by cutting and pasting them in the
proper order, for successive signs forming a speech or story, so as to
exhibit the semiotic syntax. Attention was specially directed to the
importance of ascertaining the intrinsic idea or conception of all
signs, which it was urged should be obtained directly from the persons
using them and not by inference.

In the autumn of 1880 the prompt and industrious co-operation of
many observers in this country, and of a few from foreign lands,
had supplied a large number of descriptions which were collated and
collected into a quarto volume of 329 pages, called "_A Collection
of Gesture Signs and Signals of the North American Indians, with some

This was printed on sized paper with wide margins to allow of
convenient correction and addition. It was not published, but was
regarded as proof, a copy being sent to each correspondent with
a request for his annotations, not only in revision of his own
contribution, but for its comparison with those made by others. Even
when it was supposed that mistakes had been made in either description
or reported conception, or both, the contribution was printed as
received, in order that a number of skilled and disinterested persons
might examine it and thus ascertain the amount and character of error.
The attention of each contributor was invited to the fact that, in
some instances, a sign as described by one of the other contributors
might be recognized as intended for the same idea or object as that
furnished by himself, and the former might prove to be the better
description. Each was also requested to examine if a peculiar
abbreviation or fanciful flourish might not have induced a difference
in his own description from that of another contributor with no
real distinction either in conception or essential formation. All
collaborators were therefore urged to be candid in admitting, when
such cases occurred, that their own descriptions were mere unessential
variants from others printed, otherwise to adhere to their own and
explain the true distinction. When the descriptions showed substantial
identity, they were united with the reference to all the authorities
giving them.

Many of these copies have been returned with valuable annotations, not
only of correction but of addition and suggestion, and are now being
collated again into one general revision.

The above statement will, it is hoped, give assurance that the work of
the Bureau of Ethnology has been careful and thorough. No scheme has
been neglected which could be contrived and no labor has been spared
to secure the accuracy and completeness of the publication still in
preparation. It may also be mentioned that although the writer has
made personal observations of signs, no description of any sign has
been printed by him which rests on his authority alone. Personal
controversy and individual bias were thus avoided. For every sign
there is a special reference either to an author or to some one or
more of the collaborators. While the latter have received full
credit, full responsibility was also imposed, and that course will be

No contribution has been printed which asserted that any described
sign is used by "all Indians," for the reason that such statement is
not admissible evidence unless the authority had personally examined
all Indians. If any credible person had affirmatively stated that a
certain identical, or substantially identical, sign had been found by
him, actually used by Abnaki, Absaroka, Arikara, Assiniboins, etc.,
going through the whole list of tribes, or any definite portion of
that list, it would have been so inserted under the several tribal
heads. But the expression "all Indians," besides being insusceptible
of methodical classification, involves hearsay, which is not the kind
of authority desired in a serious study. Such loose talk long delayed
the recognition of Anthropology as a science. It is true that some
general statements of this character are made by some old authors
quoted in the Dictionary, but their descriptions are reprinted, as
being all that can be used of the past, for whatever weight they may
have, and they are kept separate from the linguistic classification
given below.

Regarding the difficulties met with in the task proposed, the same
motto might be adopted as was prefixed to Austin's _Chironomia_: "_Non
sum nescius, quantum susceperim negotii, qui motus corporis exprimere
verbis, imitari scriptura conatus sim voces._" _Rhet. ad Herenn_, 1.3.
If the descriptive recital of the signs collected had been absolutely
restricted to written or printed words the work would have been
still more difficult and the result less intelligible. The facilities
enjoyed of presenting pictorial illustrations have been of great value
and will give still more assistance in the complete work than in the
present paper.

In connection with the subject of illustrations it may be noted that
a writer in the _Journal of the Military Service Institution of the
United States_, Vol. II, No. 5, the same who had before invented the
mode of describing signs by "means" mentioned on page 330 _supra_,
gives a curious distinction between deaf-mute and Indian signs
regarding their respective capability of illustration, as follows:
"This French system is taught, I believe, in most of the schools for
deaf-mutes in this country, and in Europe; but so great has been the
difficulty of fixing the hands in space, either by written description
or illustrated cuts, that no text books are used. I must therefore
conclude that the Indian sign language is not only the more natural,
but the more simple, as the gestures can be described quite accurately
in writing, and I think can be illustrated." The readers of this
paper will also, probably, "think" that the signs of Indians can be
illustrated, and as the signs of deaf-mutes are often identical with
the Indian, whether expressing the same or different ideas, and when
not precisely identical are always made on the same principle and with
the same members, it is not easy to imagine any greater difficulty
either in their graphic illustration or in their written description.
The assertion is as incorrect as if it were paraphrased to declare
that a portrait of an Indian in a certain attitude could be taken by
a pencil or with the camera while by some occult influence the same
artistic skill would be paralysed in attempting that of a deaf-mute
in the same attitude. In fact, text books on the "French system" are
used and one in the writer's possession published in Paris twenty-five
years ago, contains over four hundred illustrated cuts of deaf-mute
gesture signs.

The proper arrangement and classification of signs will always be
troublesome and unsatisfactory. There can be no accurate translation
either of sentences or of words from signs into written English. So
far from the signs representing words as logographs, they do not in
their presentation of the ideas of actions, objects, and events, under
physical forms, even suggest words, which must be skillfully fitted
to them by the glossarist and laboriously derived from, them by
the philologer. The use of words in formulation, still more in
terminology, is so wide a departure from primitive conditions as to
be incompatible with the only primordial language yet discovered. No
vocabulary of signs will be exhaustive for the simple reason that the
signs are exhaustless, nor will it be exact because there cannot be a
correspondence between signs and words taken individually. Not only
do words and signs both change their meaning from the context, but a
single word may express a complex idea, to be fully rendered only by
a group of signs, and, _vice versa_, a single sign may suffice for a
number of words. The elementary principles by which the combinations
in sign and in the oral languages of civilization are effected are
also discrepant. The attempt must therefore be made to collate and
compare the signs according to general ideas, conceptions, and, if
possible, the ideas and conceptions of the gesturers themselves,
instead of in order of words as usually arranged in dictionaries.

The hearty thanks of the writer are rendered to all his collaborators,
a list of whom is given below, and will in future be presented in
a manner more worthy of them. It remains to give an explanation of
the mode in which a large collection of signs has been made directly
by the officers of the Bureau of Ethnology. Fortunately for this
undertaking, the policy of the government brought to Washington during
the year 1880 delegations, sometimes quite large, of most of the
important tribes. Thus the most intelligent of the race from many
distant and far separated localities were here in considerable numbers
for weeks, and indeed, in some cases, months, and, together with
their interpreters and agents, were, by the considerate order of the
honorable Secretary of the Interior, placed at the disposal of this
Bureau for all purposes of gathering ethnologic information. The
facilities thus obtained were much greater than could have been
enjoyed by a large number of observers traveling for a long time over
the continent for the same express purpose. The observations relating
to signs were all made here by the same persons, according to a
uniform method, in which the gestures were obtained directly from the
Indians, and their meaning (often in itself clear from the context
of signs before known) was translated sometimes through the medium of
English or Spanish, or of a native language known in common by some
one or more of the Indians and by some one of the observers. When an
interpreter was employed, he translated the words used by an Indian
in his oral paraphrase of the signs, and was not relied upon to
explain the signs according to his own ideas. Such translations
and a description of minute and rapidly-executed signs, dictated
at the moment of their exhibition, were sometimes taken down by
a phonographer, that there might be no lapse of memory in any
particular, and in many cases the signs were made in successive
motions before the camera, and prints secured as certain evidence
of their accuracy. Not only were more than one hundred Indians thus
examined individually, at leisure, but, on occasions, several parties
of different tribes, who had never before met each other, and could
not communicate by speech, were examined at the same time, both by
inquiry of individuals whose answers were consulted upon by all the
Indians present, and also by inducing several of the Indians to engage
in talk and story-telling in signs between themselves. Thus it was
possible to notice the difference in the signs made for the same
objects and the degree of mutual comprehension notwithstanding such
differences. Similar studies were made by taking Indians to the
National Deaf Mute College and bringing them in contact with the

By far the greater part of the actual work of the observation and
record of the signs obtained at Washington has been ably performed by
Dr. W.J. HOFFMAN, the assistant of the present writer. When the latter
has made personal observations the former has always been present,
taking the necessary notes and sketches and superintending the
photographing. To him, therefore, belongs the credit for all those
references in the following "LIST OF AUTHORITIES AND COLLABORATORS,"
in which it is stated that the signs were obtained at Washington from
Indian delegations. Dr. HOFFMAN acquired in the West, through his
service as acting assistant surgeon, United States Army, at a large
reservation, the indispensable advantage of becoming acquainted with
the Indian character so as to conduct skillfully such researches as
that in question, and in addition has the eye and pencil of an artist,
so that he seizes readily, describes with physiological accuracy,
and reproduces in action and in permanent illustration all shades
of gesture exhibited. Nearly all of the pictorial illustrations in
this paper are from his pencil. For the remainder, and for general
superintendence of the artistic department of the work, thanks are due
to Mr. W.H. HOLMES, whose high reputation needs no indorsement here.


1. A list prepared by WILLIAM DUNBAR, dated Natchez, June 30, 1800,
collected from tribes then "west of the Mississippi," but probably not
from those very far west of that river, published in the _Transactions
of the American Philosophical Society_, vol. vi, pp. 1-8, as read
January 16, 1801, and communicated by Thomas Jefferson, president of
the society.

2. The one published in _An Account of an Expedition from
Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains, performed in the years 1819-1820,
Philadelphia_, 1823, vol. i, pp. 378-394. This expedition was made by
order of the Hon. J.O. Calhoun, Secretary of War, under the command of
Maj. S.H. LONG, of the United States Topographical Engineers, and is
commonly called James' Long's Expedition. This list appears to have
been collected chiefly by Mr. T. Say, from the Pani, and the Kansas,
Otos, Missouris, Iowas, Omahas, and other southern branches of the
great Dakota family.

3. The one collected by Prince MAXIMILIAN VON WIED-NEUWIED in _Reise
in das Innere Nord-America in den Jahren 1832 bis 1834_. _Coblenz_,
1839 [--1841], vol. ii, pp. 645-653. His statement is, "the Arikaras,
Mandans, Minnitarris [Hidatsa], Crows [Absaroka], Cheyennes, Snakes
[Shoshoni], and Blackfeet [Satsika] all understand certain signs,
which, on the contrary, as we are told, are unintelligible to the
Dakotas, Assiniboins, Ojibwas, Krihs [Crees], and other nations. The
list gives examples of the sign language of the former." From the
much greater proportion of time spent and information obtained by the
author among the Mandans and Hidatsa then and now dwelling near Port
Berthold, on the Upper Missouri, it might be safe to consider that all
the signs in his list were in fact procured from those tribes. But as
the author does not say so, he is not made to say so in this work. If
it shall prove that the signs now used by the Mandans and Hidatsa more
closely resemble those on his list than do those of other tribes, the
internal evidence will be verified. This list is not published in
the English edition, _London_, 1843, but appears in the German, above
cited, and in the French, _Paris_, 1840. Bibliographic reference is
often made to this distinguished explorer as "Prince Maximilian," as
if there were but one possessor of that Christian name among princely
families. For brevity the reference in this paper will be _Wied_.

No translation of this list into English appears to have been printed
in any shape before that recently published by the present writer
in the _American Antiquarian_, vol. ii, No. 3, while the German and
French editions are costly and difficult of access, so the collection
cannot readily be compared by readers with the signs now made by the
same tribes. The translation, now presented is based upon the German
original, but in a few cases where the language was so curt as not
to give a clear idea, was collated with the French edition of the
succeeding year, which, from some internal evidence, appears to have
been published with the assistance or supervision of the author. Many
of the descriptions are, however, so brief and indefinite in both
their German and French forms that they necessarily remain so in
the present translation. The princely explorer, with the keen
discrimination shown in all his work, doubtless observed what has
escaped many recent reporters of Indian signs, that the latter depend
much more upon motion than mere position, and are generally large and
free, seldom minute. His object was to express the general effect of
the motion rather than to describe it with such precision as to allow
of its accurate reproduction by a reader who had never seen it. To
have presented the signs as now desired for comparison, toilsome
elaboration would have been necessary, and even that would not in all
cases have sufficed without pictorial illustration.

On account of the manifest importance of determining the prevalence
and persistence of the signs as observed half a century ago, an
exception is made to the general arrangement hereafter mentioned by
introducing after the _Wied_ signs remarks of collaborators who have
made special comparisons, and adding to the latter the respective
names of those collaborators--as, (_Matthews_), (_Boteler_). It is
hoped that the work of those gentlemen will be imitated, not only
regarding the _Wied_, signs, but many others.

4. The signs given to publication by Capt. R.F. BURTON, which, it
would be inferred, were collected in 1860-'61, from the tribes met or
learned of on the overland stage route, including Southern Dakotas,
Utes, Shoshoni, Arapahos, Crows, Pani, and Apaches. They are contained
in _The City of the Saints_, _New York_, 1862, pp. 123-130.

Information has been recently received to the effect that this
collection was not made by the distinguished English explorer from
his personal observation, but was obtained by him from one man in Salt
Lake City, a Mormon bishop, who, it is feared, gave his own ideas of
the formation and use of signs rather than their faithful description.

5. A list read by Dr. D.G. MACGOWAN, at a meeting of the American
Ethnological Society, January 23, 1866, and published in the
_Historical Magazine_, vol. x, 1866, pp. 86, 87, purporting to be the
signs of the Caddos, Wichitas, and Comanches.

6. Annotations by Lieut. HEBER M. CREEL, Seventh United States
Cavalry, received in January, 1881. This officer is supposed to
be specially familiar with the Cheyennes, among whom he lived for
eighteen months; but his recollection is that most of the signs
described by him were also observed among the Arapaho, Sioux, and
several other tribes.

7. A special contribution from Mr. F.F. GERARD, of Fort A. Lincoln,
D.T., of signs obtained chiefly from a deaf-mute Dakota, who has
traveled among most of the Indian tribes living between the Missouri
River and the Rocky Mountains. Mr. Gerard's own observations are based
upon the experience of thirty-two years' residence in that country,
during which long period he has had almost daily intercourse with
Indians. He states that the signs contributed by him are used by the
Blackfeet, (Satsika), Absaroka, Dakota, Hidatsa, Mandan, and Arikara
Indians, who may in general be considered to be the group of tribes
referred to by the Prince of Wied.

In the above noted collections the generality of the statements as
to locality of the observation and use of the signs rendered it
impossible to arrange them in the manner considered to be the best to
study the diversities and agreements of signs. For that purpose it is
more convenient that the names of the tribe or tribes among which the
described signs have been observed should catch the eye in immediate
connection with them than that those of the observers only should
follow. Some of the latter indeed have given both similar and
different signs for more than one tribe, so that the use of the
contributor's name alone would create confusion. To print in every
case the name of the contributor, together with the name of the tribe,
would seriously burden the paper and be unnecessary to the student,
the reference being readily made to each authority through this LIST
which also serves as an index. The seven collections above mentioned
will therefore be referred to by the names of the authorities
responsible for them. Those which now follow are arranged
alphabetically by tribes, under headings of Linguistic Families
according to Major J.W. POWELL's classification, which are also given
below in alphabetic order. Example: The first authority is under the
heading ALGONKIAN, and, concerning only the Abnaki tribe, is referred
to as (_Abnaki_ I), Chief MASTA being the personal authority.


_Abnaki_ I. A letter dated December 15, 1879, from H.L. MASTA, chief
of the Abnaki, residing near Pierreville, Quebec.

_Arapaho_ I. A contribution from Lieut. H.B. LEMLY, Third United
States Artillery, compiled from notes and observations taken by him in
1877, among the Northern Arapahos.

_Arapaho_ II. A list of signs obtained from O-QO-HIS'-SA (the Mare,
better known as Little Raven) and NA'-WATC (Left Hand), members of a
delegation of Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians, from Darlington, Ind. T.,
who visited Washington during the summer of 1880.

_Cheyenne_ I. Extracts from the _Report of Lieut. J.W. ABERT, of his
Examination of New Mexico in the years 1846-'47_, in Ex. Doc. No. 41,
Thirtieth Congress, first session, Washington, 1848, p. 417, _et seq._

_Cheyenne_ II. A list prepared in July, 1879, by Mr. FRANK H. CUSHING,
of the Smithsonian Institution, from continued interviews with
TITC-KE-MA'-TSKI (Cross-Eyes), an intelligent Cheyenne, then employed
at that Institution.

_Cheyenne_ III. A special contribution with diagrams from Mr. BEN
CLARK, scout and interpreter, of signs collected from the Cheyennes
during his long residence among that tribe.

_Cheyenne_ IV. Several communications from Col. RICHARD I. DODGE,
A.D.C., United States Army, author of _The Plains of the Great West
and their Inhabitants_, _New York_, 1877, relating to his large
experience with the Indians of the prairies.

_Cheyenne_ V. A list of signs obtained from WA-Uⁿ' (Bob-tail) and
MO-HI'NUK-MA-HA'-IT (Big Horse), members of a delegation of Arapaho
and Cheyenne Indians from Darlington, Ind. T., who visited Washington
during the summer of 1880.

_Ojibwa_ I. The small collection of J.G. KOHL, made about the middle
of the present century, among the Ojibwas around Lake Superior.
Published in his _Kitchigami. Wanderings Around Lake Superior,
London_, 1860.

_Ojibwa_ II. Several letters from the Very Rev. EDWARD JACKER, Pointe
St. Ignace, Mich., respecting the Ojibwas.

_Ojibwa_ III. A communication from Rev. JAMES A. GILFILLAN, White
Earth, Minn., relating to signs observed among the Ojibwas during his
long period of missionary duty, still continuing.

_Ojibwa_ IV. A list from Mr. B.O. WILLIAMS, Sr., of Owosso, Mich.,
from recollection of signs observed among the Ojibwas of Michigan
sixty years ago.

_Ojibwa_ V. Contributions received in 1880 and 1881 from Mr. F.
JACKER, of Portage River, Houghton County, Michigan, who has resided
many years among and near the tribe mentioned.

_Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo_ I. A list from Rev. H.F. BUCKNER, D.D., of
Eufaula, Ind. T., consisting chiefly of tribal signs observed by him
among the Sac and Fox, Kickapoos, &c., during the early part of the
year 1880.


_Absaroka_ I. A list of signs obtained from DE-E'-KI-TCIS (Pretty
Eagle), É-TCI-DI-KA-HĂTC'-KI (Long Elk), and PE-RI'-TCI-KA'-DI-A
(Old Crow), members of a delegation of Absaroka or Crow Indians from
Montana Territory, who visited Washington during the months of April
and May, 1880.

_Dakota_ I. A comprehensive list, arranged with great care and skill,
from Dr. CHARLES E. MCCHESNEY, acting assistant surgeon, United States
Army, of signs collected among the Dakotas (Sioux) near Fort Bennett,
Dakota, during the year 1880. Dr. McChesney requests that recognition
should be made of the valuable assistance rendered to him by Mr.
WILLIAM FIELDEN, the interpreter at Cheyenne Agency, Dakota Territory.

_Dakota_ II. A short list from Dr. BLAIR D. TAYLOR, assistant surgeon,
United States Army, from recollection of signs observed among the
Sioux during his late service in the region inhabited by that tribe.

_Dakota_ III. A special contribution from Capt. A.W. CORLISS, Eighth
United States Infantry, of signs observed by him during his late
service among the Sioux.

_Dakota_ IV. A copious contribution with diagrams from Dr. WILLIAM H.
CORBUSIER, assistant surgeon, United States Army, of signs obtained
from the Ogalala Sioux at Pine Ridge Agency, Dakota Territory, during

_Dakota_ V. A report of Dr. W.J. HOFFMAN, from observations among the
Teton Dakotas while acting assistant surgeon, United States Army, and
stationed at Grand River Agency, Dakota, during 1872-'73.

_Dakota_ VI. A list of signs obtained from PE-ZHI' (Grass), chief of
the Blackfoot Sioux; NA-ZU'-LA-TAⁿ-KA (Big Head), chief of the Upper
Yanktonais; and CE-TAⁿ-KIⁿ-YAⁿ (Thunder Hawk), chief of the Uncpapas,
Teton Dakotas, located at Standing Rock, Dakota Territory, while at
Washington in June, 1880.

_Dakota_ VII. A list of signs obtained from SHUN-KU LU-TA (Red Dog),
an Ogalala chief from the Red Cloud Agency, who visited Washington in
company with a large delegation of Dakotas in June, 1880.

_Dakota_ VIII. A special list obtained from TA-TAⁿKA WA-KAⁿ
(Medicine Bull), and other members of a delegation of Lower Brulé
Dakotas, while at Washington during the winter of 1880-'81.

_Hidatsa_ I. A list of signs obtained from TCE-CAQ'-A-DAQ-A-QIC
(Lean Wolf), chief of the Hidatsa, located at Fort Berthold, Dakota
Territory, while at Washington with a delegation of Sioux Indians, in
June, 1880.

_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I. A valuable and illustrated contribution from
Dr. WASHINGTON MATTHEWS, assistant surgeon, United States Army, author
of _Ethnography and Philology of the Hidatsa Indians, Washington_,
1877, &c., lately prepared from his notes and recollections of signs
observed during his long service among the Mandan and Hidatsa Indians
of the Upper Missouri.

_Omaha_ I. A special list from Rev. J. OWEN DORSEY, lately missionary
at Omaha Agency, Nebraska, from observations made by him at that
agency in 1880.

_Oto_ I. An elaborate list, with diagrams, from Dr. W.G. BOTELER,
United States Indian service, collected from the Otos at the Oto
Agency, Nebraska, during 1879-'80.

_Oto and Missouri_ I. A similar contribution by the same authority
respecting the signs of the Otos and Missouris, of Nebraska, collected
during the winter of 1879-'80, in the description of many of which he
was joined by Miss KATIE BARNES.

_Ponka_ I. A short list from Rev. J. OWEN DORSEY, obtained by him in
1880 from the Ponkas in Nebraska.

_Ponka_ II. A short list obtained at Washington from KHI-DHA-SKĂ,
(White Eagle), and other chiefs, a delegation from Kansas in January,


_Iroquois_ I. A list of signs contributed by the Hon. HORATIO HALE,
author of "Philology" of the Wilkes Exploring Expedition, &c., now
residing at Clinton, Ontario, Canada, obtained in June, 1880, from
SAKAYENKWARATON (Disappearing Mist), familiarly known as John Smoke
Johnson, chief of the Canadian division of the Six Nations, or
Iroquois proper, now a very aged man, residing at Brantford, Canada.

_Wyandot_ I. A list of signs from HEN'-TO (Gray Eyes), chief of the
Wyandots, who visited Washington during the spring of 1880, in the
interest of that tribe, now dwelling in Indian Territory.


_Kaiowa_ I. A list of signs from SITTIMGEA (Stumbling Bear), a Kaiowa
chief from Indian Territory, who visited Washington in June, 1880.


_Kutine_ I. A letter from J.W. POWELL, Esq., Indian superintendent,
British Columbia, relating to his observations among the Kutine and


_Arikara_ I. A list of signs obtained from KUA-NUQ'-KNA-UI'-UQ (Son
of the Star), chief of the Arikaras, residing at Fort Berthold, Dakota
Territory, while at Washington with a delegation of Indians, in June,

_Pani_ I. A short list obtained from "ESAU," a Pani Indian, acting as
interpreter to the Ponka delegation at Washington, in January, 1881.


_Pima and Papago_ I. A special contribution obtained from ANTONITO,
son of the chief of the Pima Indians in Arizona Territory, while on a
visit to Washington in February, 1881.


_Sahaptian_ I. A list contributed by Rev. G.L. DEFFENBAUGH, of Lapwai,
Idaho, giving signs obtained at Kamiah, Idaho, chiefly from FELIX,
chief of the Nez Percés, and used by the Sahaptin or Nez Percés.


_Comanche_ I. Notes from Rev. A.J. HOLT, Denison, Texas, respecting,
the Comanche signs, obtained at Anadarko, Indian Territory.

_Comanche_ II. Information obtained at Washington, in February, 1880,
from Maj. J.M. HAWORTH, Indian inspector, relating to signs used by
the Comanches of Indian Territory.

_Comanche_ III. A list of signs obtained from KOBI (Wild Horse), a
Comanche chief from Indian Territory, who visited Washington in June,

_Pai-Ute_ I. Information obtained at Washington from NA'TOI, a Pai-Ute
chief, who was one of a delegation of that tribe to Washington in
January, 1880.

_Shoshoni and Banak_ I. A list of signs obtained from TENDOY (The
Climber), TISIDIMIT, PETE, and WI'AGAT, members of a delegation of
Shoshoni and Banak chiefs from Idaho, who visited Washington during
the months of April and May, 1880.

_Ute_ I. A list of signs obtained from ALEJANDRE, GA-LO-TE, AUGUSTIN,
and other chiefs, members of a delegation of Ute Indians of Colorado,
who visited Washington during the early months of the year 1880.


_Apache_ I. A list of signs obtained from HUERITO (Little Blonde),
AGUSTIN VIJEL, and SANTIAGO LARGO (James Long), members of a
delegation of Apache chief from Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, who were
brought to Washington in the months of March and April, 1880.

_Apache_ II. A list of signs obtained from NA'-KA'-NA'-NI-TEN (White
Man), an Apache chief from Indian Territory, who visited Washington in
June, 1880.

_Apache_ III. A large collection made during the summer of 1880, by
Dr. FRANCIS H. ATKINS, acting assistant surgeon, United States Army,
from the Mescalero Apaches, near South Fork, N. Mex.

_Kutchin_ I. A communication, received in 1881, from Mr. IVAN PETROFF,
special agent United States census, transmitting a dialogue, taken
down by himself in 1866, between the Kenaitze Indians on the lower
Kinnik River, in Alaska, and some natives of the interior who called
themselves _Tennanah_ or _Mountain-River-Men_, belonging to the Tinne
Kutchin tribe.


_Wichita_ I. A list of signs from Rev. A.J. HOLT, missionary, obtained
from KIN-CHĒ-ĔSS (Spectacles), medicine-man of the Wichitas, at
the Wichita Agency, Indian Territory, in 1879.

_Wichita_ II. A list of signs from TSODIÁKO (Shaved Head Boy), a
Wichita chief, from Indian Territory, who visited Washington in June,


_Zuñi_ I. Some preliminary notes received in 1880 from Rev. TAYLOR F.
EALY, missionary among the Zuñi, upon the signs of that body of


Valuable contributions have been received in 1880-'81 and collated
under their proper headings, from the following correspondents in
distant countries:

Rev. HERMAN N. BARNUM, D.D., of Harpoot, Turkey, furnishes a list of
signs in common use among Turks, Armenians, and Koords in that region.

Miss L.O. LLOYD, Charleton House, Mowbray, near Cape Town, Africa,
gives information concerning the gestures and signals of the Bushmen.

Rev. LORIMER FISON, Navuloa, Fiji, notes in letters comparisons
between the signs and gestures of the Fijians and those of the
North American Indians. As this paper is passing through the press
a _Collection_ is returned with annotations by him and also by Mr.
WALTER CAREW, Commissioner for the Interior of Navitilevu. The
last named gentleman describes some signs of a Fijian uninstructed

Mr. F.A. VON RUPPRECHT, Kepahiang, Sumatra, supplies information
and comparisons respecting the signs and signals of the Redjangs and
Lelongs, showing agreement with some Dakota, Comanche, and Ojibwa

Letters from Mr. A.W. HOWITT, F.G.S., Sale, Gippsland, Victoria, upon
Australian signs, and from Rev. JAMES SIBREE, jr., F.R.G.S., relative
to the tribes of Madagascar, are gratefully acknowledged.

Many other correspondents are now, according to their kind promises,
engaged in researches, the result of which have not yet been received.
The organization of those researches in India and Ceylon has been
accomplished through the active interest of Col. H.S. OLCOTT, U.S.
Commissioner, Breach Candy, Bombay.

       *       *       *       *       *

Grateful acknowledgment must be made to Prof. E.A. FAY, of the
National Deaf Mute College, through whose special attention a large
number of the natural signs of deaf-mutes, remembered by them as
having been invented and used before instruction in conventional
signs, indeed before attending any school, was obtained. The gentlemen
who made the contributions in their own MS., and without prompting,
are as follows: Messrs. M. BALLARD, R.M. ZIEGLER, J. CROSS, PHILIP
J. HASENSTAB, and LARS LARSON. Their names respectively follow their
several descriptions. Mr. BALLARD is an instructor in the college, and
the other gentlemen were pupils during the session of 1880.

Similar thanks are due to Mr. J.L. NOYES, superintendent of the
Minnesota Institution for the education of the Deaf and Dumb,
Faribault, Minn., and to Messrs. GEORGE WING and D.H. CARROLL,
teachers in that institution, for annotations and suggestions
respecting deaf-mute signs. The notes made by the last named gentlemen
are followed by their respective names in reference.

       *       *       *       *       *

Special thanks are also rendered to Prof. JAMES D. BUTLER, of Madison,
Wis., for contribution of Italian gesture-signs, noted by him in 1843,
and for many useful suggestions.

       *       *       *       *       *

Other Italian signs are quoted from the Essay on Italian
gesticulations by his eminence Cardinal WISEMAN, in his _Essays
on Various Subjects, London_, 1855, Vol. III, pp. 533-555. Many
Neapolitan signs are extracted from the illustrated work of the canon
ANDREA DE JORIO, _La Mimica degli Antichi investigata nel gestire
Napoletano_, _Napoli_, 1832.

       *       *       *       *       *

A small collection of Australian signs has been extracted from R.
BROUGH SMYTH's _The Aborigines of Victoria_, _London_, 1878.


In the printed but unpublished _Collection_ before mentioned, page
396, nearly three hundred quarto pages are devoted to descriptions of
signs arranged in alphabetic order. A few of these are now presented
to show the method adopted. They have been selected either as having
connection with the foregoing discussion of the subject or because for
some of them pictorial illustrations had already been prepared. There
is propriety in giving all the signs under some of the title words
when descriptions of only one or two of those signs have been used in
the foregoing remarks. This prevents an erroneous inference that
the signs so mentioned are the only or the common or the generally
prevailing signs for the idea conveyed. This course has involved some
slight repetition both of descriptions and of illustrations, as it
seemed desirable that they should appear to the eye in the several
connections indicated. The extracts are rendered less interesting and
instructive by the necessity for omitting cross-references which would
show contrasts and similarities for comparison, but would require a
much larger part of the collected material to be now printed than is
consistent with the present plan. Instead of occupying in this manner
the remaining space allotted to this paper, it was decided to present,
as of more general interest, the descriptions of TRIBAL SIGNS, PROPER
follow the EXTRACTS.

It will be observed that in the following extracts there has been an
attempt to supply the conceptions or origin of the several signs. When
the supposed conception, obtained through collaborators, is printed
before the authority given as reference, it is understood to have been
gathered from an Indian as being his own conception, and is therefore
of special value. When printed after the authority and within
quotation marks it is in the words of the collaborator as offered by
himself. When printed after the authority and without quotation marks
it is suggested by this writer.

The letters of the alphabet within parentheses, used in some of the
descriptions, refer to the corresponding figures in TYPES OF HAND
POSITIONS at the end of this paper. When such letters are followed
by Arabic numerals it is meant that there is some deviation, which is
described in the text, from that type of hand position corresponding
with the letter which is still used as the basis of description.
Example: In the first description from (_Sahaptin_ I) for _bad_,
_mean_, page 412, (G) refers to the type of hand position so marked,
being identically that position, but in the following reference, to
(R 1), the type referred to by the letter R has the palm to the front
instead of backward, being in all other respects the position which it
is desired to illustrate; (R), therefore, taken in connection with
the description, indicates that change, and that alone. This mode
of reference is farther explained in the EXAMPLES at the end of this

References to another title word as explaining a part of a description
or to supply any other portions of a compound sign will always be
understood as being made to the description by the same authority
of the sign under the other title-word. Example: In the second
description by (_Sahaptin_ I) for _bad, mean_, above mentioned, the
reference to GOOD is to that sign for _good_ which is contributed by
Rev. G.L. DEFFENBAUGH, and is referred to as (_Sahaptin_ I.).


Pass the open right hand outward from the small of the back. (_Wied_.)
This, as explained by Indians lately examined, indicates the lighter
coloration upon the animal's flanks. A Ute who could speak Spanish
accompanied it with the word _blanco_, as if recognizing that it
required explanation.

With the index only extended, hold the hand eighteen or twenty inches
transversely in front of the head, index pointing to the left,
then rub the sides of the body with the flat hands. (_Cheyenne_
IV; _Dakota_ VI.) "The latter sign refers to the white sides of the
animal; the former could not be explained."

[Illustration: Fig. 234.]

[Illustration: Fig. 235.]

Extend and separate the forefingers and thumbs, nearly close all the
other fingers, and place the hands with backs outward above and a
little in front of the ears, about four inches from the head, and
shake them back and forth several times. Antelope's horns. This is an
Arapaho sign. (_Dakota_ I, II, IV.)

Close the right hand, leaving the end of the index in the form of
a hook, and the thumb extended as in Fig. 234; then wave the hand
quickly back and forth a short distance, opposite the temple.
(_Hidatsa_ I; _Arikara_ I.) "Represents the pronged horn of the
animal. This is the sign ordinarily used, but it was noticed that in
conversing with one of the Dakotas the sign of the latter (_Dakota_
VI) was used several times, to be more readily understood."

Place both hands, fingers fully extended and spread, close to the
sides of the head. _Wied's_ sign was readily understood as signifying
the white flanks. (_Apache_ I.)

In connection with the above signs Fig. 235 is presented, which was
drawn by Running Antelope, an Uncpapa Dakota, as his personal totem,
or proper name.


Make the sign for GOOD and then that of NOT. (_Long._)

Close the hand, and open it whilst passing it downward. (_Wied._) This
is the same as my description; but differently worded, possibly notes
a less forcible form. I say, however, that the arm is "extended."
The precise direction in which the hand is moved is not, I think,
essential. (_Matthews._) This sign is invariably accompanied by a
countenance expressive of contempt. (_F. Jacker._).

Scatter the dexter fingers outward, as if spurting away water from
them. (_Burton_.)

(1) Right hand partially elevated, fingers closed, thumb clasping the
tips; (2) sudden motion downward and outward accompanied by equally
sudden opening of fingers and snapping of the fingers from the thumb.
(_Cheyenne_ II.)

Right hand closed back to front is moved forcibly downward and
forward, the fingers being violently opened at instant of stopping the
motion of hand. (_Cheyenne_ IV.)

Right hand closed (B) carried forward in front of the body toward the
right and downward, during which the hand is opened, fingers downward,
as if dropping out the contents. (_Dakota_ I.) "Not worth keeping."

Half close the fingers of the right hand, hook the thumb over the fore
and middle fingers; move the hand, back upward, a foot or so toward
the object referred to, and suddenly let the fingers fly open.
Scattered around, therefore bad. An Arapaho sign. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Close the fingers of the right hand, resting the tips against the
thumb, then throw the hand downward and outward toward the right to
arm's length, and spring open the fingers. Fig. 236. (_Dakota_ VI, VII,
VIII; _Ponka_ II; _Pani_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 236.]

The sign most commonly used for this idea is made by the hand being
closed near the breast, with the back toward the breast, then as the
arm is suddenly extended the hand is opened and the fingers separated
from each other. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.)

Hands open, palms turned in; move one hand toward, and the other from,
the body; then vice versâ. (_Omaha_ I.)

Throw the clinched right hand forward, downward, and outward, and when
near at arm's length, suddenly snap the fingers from the thumb as if
sprinkling water. (_Wyandot_ I.) "To throw away contemptuously; not
worth keeping."

Raise hand in front of breast, fingers hooked, thumb resting against
second finger, palm downward (G), then with a nervous movement throw
the hand downward to the right and a little behind the body, with an
expression of disgust on the face. During motion of hand the fingers
are suddenly extended as though throwing something out of the
hand, and in final position the fingers and thumb are straight and
separated, palm backward (R 1). (_Sahaptin_ I.) "Away with it!"

Another: Same motion of arm and hand as in _good_. But in the first
position fingers are closed, and as the hand moves to the right they
are thrown open, until in final position all are extended as in final
for _good_. (_Sahaptin_ I.)

Extend the right hand, palm downward, and move it in a horizontal line
from the body, then suddenly turn the hand over as if throwing water
from the back of it or the index. (_Comanche_ I.) "Good, no."

Pass the flat right hand, interruptedly, downward and backward past
the right side. (_Pima and Papago_ I.) "Putting aside."

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Hold forward the closed hand with the little finger up, at the same
time nodding the head. (_Ballard_.)

Draw the tongue out a little and then shake the head with a displeased
look. (_Larson_.)

Use the sign for _handsome_ (see first part of the sign for GOOD), at
the same time shake the head as if to say "no." (_Ziegler_.)

_Deaf-mute signs_:

The hand closed (except the little finger which is extended and
raised), and held forward with the fingers to the front is the sign
for _bad_ illustrated in the Report for 1879 of the Ohio Institution
for the Deaf and Dumb. This sign is used among the deaf-mutes in


Pass the hand before the face to mean ugliness, at the same time
grinning and extending the fingers like claws. (_Burton_.)

Hands in front of and about eight inches above the elbows, fingers
slightly bent and open, thumbs and palms to the front to represent
claws,--or bear in standing position. Sometimes accompanied by clawing
motion. (_Creel_.)

(1) Middle and third finger of right hand clasped down by the thumb,
forefinger and little finger extended, crooked downward; (2) the
motion of scratching made in the air. (_Cheyenne_ II.) Fig. 237.

[Illustration: Fig. 237.]

Fingers of both hands closed, except the thumb and little finger,
which are extended, and point straight toward the front, hands
horizontal, backs upward, are held in front of their respective sides
near the body, and then moved directly forward with, short, sharp
jerking motions. (_Dakota_ I.) "From the motion of the bear in
running." This is also reported as an Arapaho sign. (_Dakota_ IV.) The
paws and claws are represented.

Seize a short piece of wood, say about two feet long, wave in the
right hand, and strike a blow at an imaginary person. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Seize a short thing about six inches long, hold it as dagger,
pretend to thrust it downward under the breast-bone repeatedly, and
each time farther, grunting or gasping in doing so; withdraw the
stick, holding it up, and, showing the blood, point to the breast
with the left forefinger, meaning to say _so do thou when you meet the
bear_. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Pretend to stab yourself with an arrow in various parts of
the body, then point towards the body with the left-hand forefinger.
(_Omaha_ I.)

Arms are flexed and hands clasped about center of breast; then slowly
fall with arms pendulous and both hands in type-position (Q). The sign
is completed by slowly lifting the hands and arms several times in
imitation of the animal's locomotion. Movement and appearance of
animal's front feet. (_Oto_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 238.]

Hold the closed right hand at the height of the elbow before the right
side, palm downward, extend and curve the thumb and little finger
so that their tips are nearly directed toward one another before the
knuckles of the closed fingers; then push the hand forward several
times. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) "Paw
and long claws." Fig. 238.

[Illustration: Fig. 239.]

Hold both closed hands before the body, palms down, and about eight
inches apart; reach forward a short distance, relaxing the fingers as
if grasping something with them, and draw them back again as the hands
are withdrawn to their former position. Ordinarily but one hand is
used, as in Fig. 239. (_Ute_ I.) "Scratching, and grasping with the

The right hand thrown in the position as for _horse_, as follows:
Elevate the right-hand, extended, with fingers joined, outer edge
toward the ground, in front of the body or right shoulder, and
pointing forward, resting the curved thumb against the palmar side of
the index, then extend both hands with fingers extended and curved,
separated, palms down, and push them forward several times, making a
short arch. (_Apache_ I.) "The animal that scratches with long claws."

[Illustration: Fig. 240.]

Fig. 240 is from a Moqui rock etching, contributed by Mr. G.K.
Gilbert, showing the pictorial mode of representing the animal.

_Deaf-mute sign_:

Claw both shoulders with the fingers. (_Wing_.)

---- Grizzly.

Right hand flat and extended, held at height of shoulder, palm
forward, then bring the palm to the mouth, lick it with the tongue,
and return it to first position. (_Omaha_ I.) "Showing blood on the

Other remarks upon the signs for _bear_ are made on pages 293 and 345.


Close the fists, place the left near the breast, and move the right
over the left toward the left side. (_Wied_.) A motion something
like this, which I do not now distinctly recall--a short of wrenching
motion with the fists in front of the chest--I have seen used for
_strong_. If _Wied's_ sign-maker's hand first struck the region over
the heart (as he may have done) he would then have indicated a "strong
heart," which is the equivalent for _brave_. (_Matthews_.) This
sign is used by the Sioux at the present day to denote _small_.
(_McChesney_.) I have seen a similar sign repeatedly, the only
variation being that the right fist is passed over and downward, in
front of the left, instead of toward the left side. (_Hoffman_.) Fig.

[Illustration: Fig. 241.]

Clinch the right fist, and place it to the breast. (_Absaroka_ I;
_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.)

Both hands fists, backs outward, obliquely upward, near together,
right inside of left, are moved forward from in front of the chest,
two or three times and back again to original position and then the
right-hand fist is thrown with some force over the left on a curve.
_Endurance_ is expressed by this sign, and it is connected with the
sun-dance trials of the young man in testing his bravery and powers of
endurance before admission to the ranks of the warriors. (_Dakota_ I.)

Push the two fists forward about a foot, at the height of the breast,
the right about two inches behind the left, palms inward. (_Dakota_
IV.) "The hands push all before them."

Hold the left arm in front as if supporting a shield, and the right
drawn back as if grasping a weapon. Close the fists, lower the head,
moving it a little forward (with a "lunge") as well as the arms and
fists.. (_Omaha_ I.) "I am brave."

Another: Index and thumb extended parallel, palm to left, the other
fingers bent. Shake the open fingers several times at the person
referred to, the forearm being held at an angle of about 20°. (_Omaha_
I.) "You are very brave; you do not fear death when you see the

Strike the breast gently with the palmar side of the right fist.
(_Wyandot_ I.)

Place the left clinched hand horizontally before the breast, palm
toward the body, and at the same time strike forcibly downward in
front of it with the right fist, as in Fig. 242. Sometimes the right
fist is placed back of the left, then thrown over the latter toward
the front and downward, as in Fig. 241 above. The same gesture has
also been made by throwing the palmar side of the right fist edgewise
downward in front of the knuckles of the left, as in Fig. 243. In each
instance the left fist is jerked upward very perceptibly as the right
one is thrust downward. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.)

[Illustration: Fig. 242.]

Strike the clinched fist forcibly toward the ground in front of and
near the breast. (_Arikara_ I.)

---- He is the bravest of all.

Make the sign for BRAVE and then the left forefinger, upright, back
inward about twelve inches in front of left breast, right index
similarly held near the right breast, move them at the same time
outward or forward, obliquely to the left, (_Dakota_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 243.]

Raise right hand, fingers extended, palm downward (W 1), swing it
around "over all," then point to the man, raise left fist (A 1,
changed to left and palm inward) to a point in front of and near
the body, close fingers of right hand and place the fist (A 2, palm
inward) between left fist and body and then with violent movement
throw it over left fist, as though breaking something, and stop at
a point in front of and a little below left fist, and lastly point
upward with right hand. (_Sahaptin_ I.) "Of all here he is strongest."

The right fist, palm downward, is struck against the breast several
times, and the index is then quickly elevated before the face,
pointing upward. (_Apache_ I.)

Move the fist, thumb to the head, across the forehead from right to
left, and cast it toward the earth over the left shoulder. (_Apache_

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Run forward with a bold expression of the countenance. (_Larson_.)

Not to run back but to run forward. (_Ziegler_.)

_Deaf-mute sign_:

Left hand held as if pressing a loaf against the chest. Make a motion
with the right hand, palm upward as if cutting through the fingers of
the left with a sawing motion. (_Wing_.)

Other remarks connected with the signs for _brave_ appear on pages
352, 353, and 358, _supra_.


The forefinger of the right hand extended, pass it perpendicularly
downward, then turn it upward, and raise it in a right line as high as
the head. (_Long_.) "Rising above others."

Raise the index finger of the right hand, holding it straight upward,
then turn it in a circle and bring it straight down, a little toward
the earth. (_Wied_.) The right hand is raised, and in position (J)
describes a semicircle as in beginning the act of throwing. The arm
is elevated perfectly erect aside of the head, the palm of the index
and hand should be outward. There is an evident similarity in both
execution and conception of this sign and _Wied's_; the little
variation may be the result of different interpretation. The idea of
superiority is most prominent in both. (_Boteler_.) "A prominent one
before whom all succumb." The Arikaras understood this sign, and they
afterwards used it in talking to me. (_Creel_.) _Wied's_ air-picture
reminds of the royal scepter with its sphere.

Raise the forefinger, pointed upwards, in a vertical direction, and
then reverse both finger and motion; the greater the elevation the
"bigger" the chief. (_Arapaho_ I.)

Place the closed hand, with the index extended and pointing upward,
near the right cheek, pass it upward as high as the head, then turn
it forward and downward toward the ground, the movement terminating
a little below the initial point. See Fig. 306 in TENDOY-HUERITO
DIALOGUE, p. 487. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Ponka_ II; _Shoshoni_

(1) Sign for MAN, as follows: Right hand, palm inward, elevated to
about the level of the breast, index carelessly pointing upward,
suddenly pointed straight upward, and the whole hand moved a little
forward, at the same time taking care to keep the back of the hand
toward the person addressed; (2) middle, third, little finger, and
thumb slightly closed together, forefinger pointing forward and
downward; (3) curved motion made forward, outward, and downward.
(_Cheyenne_ II.) "He who stands still and commands," as shown by
similarity of signs to _sit here_ or _stand here_.

Extend the index, remaining fingers closed, and raise it to the right
side of the head and above it as far as the arm can reach. Have also
seen the sign given by _Wyandot_ I. (_Ojibwa_ V.)

The extended forefinger of the right hand (J), of which the other
fingers are closed, is raised to the right side of the head and above
it as far as the arm can be extended, and then the hand is brought
down in front of the body with the wrist bent, the back of hand in
front and the extended forefinger pointing downward. (_Dakota_ I.)
"Raised above others."

Move the upright and extended right index, palm forward, from the
shoulder upward as high, as the top of the head, then forward six
inches through a curve, and move it forward six inches, and then
downward, its palm backward, to the height of the shoulder. An Arapaho
sign, Above all others. He looks over or after us. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Elevate the extended index before the shoulder, palm forward, pass it
upward as high as the head, and forming a short curve to the front,
then downward again slightly to the front to before the breast and
about fifteen inches from it. (_Dakota_ VI, VII, VIII; _Hidatsa_ I;
_Arikara_ I.)

Right hand closed, forefinger pointing up, raise the hand from the
waist in front of the body till it passes above the head. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Bring the closed right hand, forefinger pointing up, on a
level with the face; then bring the palm of the left hand with force
against the right forefinger; next send up the right hand above the
head, leaving the left as it is. (_Omaha_ I.)

The right arm is extended by side of head, with the hand in position
(J). The arm and hand then descend, the finger describing a semicircle
with the arm as a radius. The sign stops with arm hanging at full
length. (_Oto_ I.) "The arm of authority before whom all must fall."

Both hands elevated to a position in front of and as high as the
shoulders, palms facing, fingers and thumbs spread and slightly
curved; the hands are then drawn outward a short distance towards
their respective sides and gently elevated as high as the top of the
head. (_Wyandot_ I.) "One who is elevated by others."

Elevate the closed hand--index only extended and pointing upward--to
the front of the right side of the face or neck or shoulder; pass it
quickly upward, and when as high as the top of the head, direct it
forward and downward again toward the ground. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_
III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) Close the right hand, index raised,
extended, and placed before the breast, then move it forward from the
mouth, pointing forward, until at arm's length. (_Ute_ I.)

----, Head, of tribe.

Place the extended index, pointing upward, at some distance before
the right shoulder, then place the left hand, with fingers and thumb
extended and separated, just back of the index; then in passing the
index upward as high as the head, draw the left hand downward a short
distance, as in Fig. 244. Superior to others. (_Absaroka_ I; _Arikara_

Place both flat hands before the body, palms down, and pass them
horizontally outward toward their respective sides, then make the sign
for CHIEF. (_Arikara_ I.) "Chief of the wide region and those upon

[Illustration: Fig. 244.]

After pointing out the man, point to the ground, all fingers closed
except first (J 1, pointing downward in stead of upward), then point
upward with same hand (J 2), then move hand to a point in front
of body, fingers extended, palm downward (W 1), and move around
horizontally. (_Sahaptin_ I.) "In this place he is head over all."

[Illustration: Fig. 245.]

Grasp the forelock with the right hand, palm backward, pass the
hand upward about six inches and hold it in that position a moment.
(_Pai-Ute_ I.) Fig 245.

Elevate the extended index vertically above and in front of the head,
holding the left hand, forefinger pointing upward, from one to two
feet below and underneath the right, the position of the left, either
elevated or depressed, also denoting the relative position of the
second individual to that of the chief. (_Apache_ I.)

----, War. Head of a war party; Partisan.

First make the sign of the _pipe_; then open the thumb and index
finger of the right hand, back of the hand outward, moving it forward
and upward in a curve. (_Wied_.) For remarks upon this sign see page

Place the right hand, index only extended and pointing forward and
upward, before the right side of the breast nearly at arm's length,
then place the left hand, palm forward with fingers spread and
extended, midway between the breast and the right hand. (_Arapaho_ II;
_Cheyenne_ V; _Ponka_ II; _Pani_ I.)

First make the sign for BATTLE, viz: Both hands (A 1) brought to the
median line of the body on a level with the breast and close together;
describe with both hands at the same time a series of circular
movements of small circumference; and then add the sign for CHIEF,
(_Dakota_ I.) "First in battle."

---- of a band.

Point toward the left and front with the extended forefinger of the
left hand, palm down; then place the extended index about twelve
inches behind the left hand, pointing in the same direction.
(_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Ponka_ II; _Pani_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 246.]

Place the extended index at some distance before the right shoulder,
pointing forward and slightly upward, then place the left hand with
fingers and thumb extended and separated over the index, and while
pushing the index to the front, draw the left hand backward toward
body and to the left. Ahead of others. (_Absaroka_ I; _Arikara_ I.)
Fig. 246.

Point the extended index forward and upward before the chest, then
place the spread fingers of the left hand around the index, but at a
short distance behind it, all pointing the same direction. Ahead of
the remainder. (_Arikara_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 247.]

Grasp the forelock with the right hand, palm backward, and pretend to
lay the hair down over the right side of the head by passing the hand
in that direction. (_Pai-Ute_ I.) Fig. 247.

The French deaf-mute sign for _order, command_, maybe compared with
several of the above signs. In it the index tip first touches the
lower lip, then is raised above the head and brought down with
violence. (_L'enseignment primaire des sourds-muets; par M. Pélissier.
Paris, 1856_.)

Not only in Naples, but, according to De Jorio, in Italy generally the
conception of _authority_ in gesture is by pressing the right hand
on the flank, accompanied by an erect and squared posture of the bust
with the head slightly inclined to the right. The idea of _substance_
is conveyed.

[Illustration: Fig. 248.]

----, Warrior lower than actual, but distinguished for bravery.

Place the left forefinger, pointing toward the left and front, before
the left side of the chest, then place the extended index near (or
against) the forefinger, and, while passing the latter outward toward
the left, draw the index toward the right. (_Absaroka_ I; _Arikara_ I;
_Shoshoni_ I.) Fig. 248.


Throw the forefinger from the perpendicular into a horizontal position
toward the earth, with the back downward. (_Long_.)

Hold the left hand flat over the face, back outward, and pass with
the similarly held right hand below the former, gently striking or
touching it. (_Wied_.) The sign given (_Oto and Missouri_ I) has no
similarity in execution or conception with _Wied's_. (_Boteler_.) This
sign may convey the idea of _under_ or _burial_, quite differently
executed from most others reported. Dr. McChesney conjectures this
sign to be that of wonder or surprise at hearing of a death, but not a
distinct sign for the latter.

The finger of the right hand passed to the left hand and then cast
down. (_Macgowan_.)

Hold the left hand slightly arched, palm down, fingers pointing toward
the right about fifteen inches before the breast, then place the
extended index nearer the breast, pointing toward the left, pass it
quickly forward underneath the left hand and in an upward curve to
termination. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Ponka_ II; _Pani_ I.)

Place the palm of the hand at a short distance from the side of the
head, then withdrawing it gently in an oblique downward direction and
inclining the head and upper part of the body in the same direction.
(_Ojibwa_ II.) See page 353 for remarks upon this sign.

Hold both hands open, with palms over ears, extend fingers back on
brain, close eyes, and incline body a little forward and to right or
left very low, and remain motionless a short time, pronouncing the
word _Ke-nee-boo_ slowly. (_Ojibwa_ IV.)

Left hand flattened and held back upward, thumb inward in front of and
a few inches from the breast. Right hand slightly clasped, forefinger
more extended than the others, and passed suddenly under the left
hand, the latter being at the same time gently moved toward the
breast. (_Cheyenne_ II.) "Gone under."

Both hands horizontal in front of body, backs outward, index of each
hand alone extended, the right index is passed under the left with a
downward, outward and then upward and inward curved motion at the
same time that the left is moved inward toward the body two or three
inches, the movements being ended on the same level as begun. "Upset,
keeled over." For _many deaths_ repeat the sign many times. The sign
of (_Cheyenne_ II) expresses "gone under," but is not used in the
sense of _death, dead_, but _going under a cover_, as entering a
lodge, under a table, &c. (_Dakota_ I.)

Make the sign for ALIVE, viz.: The right hand, back upward, is to
be at the height of the elbow and forward, the index extended and
pointing forward, the other fingers closed, thumb against middle
finger; then, while rotating the hand outward, move it to a position
about four inches in front of the face, the back looking forward and
the index pointing upward; then the sign for No. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Another: Hold the left hand pointing toward the right, palm obliquely
downward and backward, about a foot in front of the lower part of
the chest, and pass the right hand pointing toward the left, palm
downward, from behind forward underneath it. Or from an upright
position in front of the face, back forward, index extended and other
fingers closed, carry the right hand downward and forward underneath
the left and about four inches beyond it, gradually turning the right
hand until its back is upward and its index points toward the left. An
Arapaho sign. Gone under or buried. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Hold the left hand slightly bent with the palm down, before the
breast, then pass the extended right hand, pointing toward the left,
forward under and beyond the left. (_Dakota_ VI, VII.)

Hold the right hand, flat, palm downward, before the body; then throw
it over on its back to the right, making a curve of about fifteen
inches. (_Dakota_ VI; _Hidatsa_ I; _Arikara_ I.) The gesture
of reversal in this and other instances may be compared with
picture-writings in which the reversed character for the name or totem
of a person signifies his death. One of these is given in Fig. 249,
taken from Schoolcraft's _Hist. Am. Tribes_, I, p. 356, showing the
cedar burial post or _adjedatig_ of Wabojeeg, an Ojibwa war chief, who
died on Lake Superior about 1793. He belonged to the deer clan of his
tribe and the animal is drawn reversed on the post.

[Illustration: Fig. 249.]

Extend right hand, palm down, hand curved. Turn the palm up in moving
the hand down towards the earth. (_Omaha_ I.)

The countenance is brought to a sleeping composure with the eyes
closed. This countenance being gradually assumed, the head next falls
toward either shoulder. The arms having been closed and crossed upon
the chest with the hands in type positions (B B) are relaxed and drop
simultaneously towards the ground, with the fall of the head. This
attitude is maintained some seconds. (_Oto and Missouri_ I.) "The
bodily appearance at death."

Place the open hand, back upward, fingers a little drawn together,
at the height of the breast, pointing forward; then move it slowly
forward and downward, turning it over at the same time. (_Iroquois_
I.) "To express 'gone into the earth, face upward.'"

The flat right hand is waved outward and downward toward the same
side, the head being inclined in the same direction at the time, with
eyes closed. (_Wyandot_ I.)

Hold the left hand loosely extended about fifteen inches in front of
the breast, palm down, then pass the index, pointing to the left, in
a short curve downward, forward, and upward beneath the left palm.
(_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

[Illustration: Fig. 250.]

Bring the left hand to the left breast, hand half clinched (H), then
bring the right hand to the left with the thumb and forefinger in
such a position as if you were going to take a bit of string from the
fingers of the left hand, and pull the right hand off in a horizontal
line as if you were stretching a string out, extend the hand to the
full length of the arm from you and let the index finger point outward
at the conclusion of the sign. (_Comanche_ I.) "Soul going to happy

The left hand is held slightly arched, palm down, nearly at arm's
length before the breast; the right extended, flat, palm down,
and pointing forward, is pushed from the top of the breast,
straightforward, underneath, and beyond the left. (_Shoshoni and
Banak_ I.) Fig. 250.

Close both eyes, and after a moment throw the palm of the right hand
from the face downward and outward toward the right side, the head
being dropped in the same direction. (_Ute_ I.)

Touch the breast with the extended and joined fingers of the right
hand, then throw the hand, palm to the left, outward toward the right,
leaning the head in that direction at the same time. (_Apache_ I.)

Close the eyes with the tips of the index and second finger,
respectively, then both hands are placed side by side, horizontally,
palms downward, fingers extended and united; hands separated by slow
horizontal movement to right and left. (_Kutchin_ I.)

Palm of hand upward, then a wave-like motion toward the ground.
(_Zuñi_ I.)

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Place the hand upon the cheek, and shut the eyes, and move the hand
downward toward the ground. (_Ballard._)

Let your head lie on the open hand with eyes shut. (_Cross._)

Use the right shut hand as if to draw a screw down to fasten the lid
to the coffin and keep the eyes upon the hand. (_Hasenstab._)

Move the head toward the shoulder and then close the eyes. (_Larson._)

_Deaf mute signs_:

The French deaf-mute conception is that of gently falling or sinking,
the right index falling from the height of the right shoulder upon the
left forefinger, toward which the head is inclined.

The deaf-mute sign commonly used in the United States is the same as
_Dakota_ VI; _Hidatsa_ I; _Arikara_ I; above. Italians with obvious
conception, make the sign of the cross.

---- To Die.

Right hand, forefinger extended, side up, forming with the thumb
a 'U'; the other fingers slightly curved, touching each other, the
little finger having its side toward the ground. Move the hand right
and left then forward, several times; then turn it over suddenly,
letting it fall toward the earth. (_Ojibwa_ V; _Omaha_ I.) "An animal
wounded, but staggering a little before it falls and dies."

[Illustration: Fig. 251.]

---- Dying.

Hold the left hand as in _dead_; pass the index in the same manner
underneath the left, but in a slow, gentle, interrupted movement.
(_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) "Step by
step; inch by inch." Fig. 251.

[Illustration: Fig. 252.]

---- Nearly, but recovers.

Hold the left hand as in _dead_; pass the index with a slow, easy,
interrupted movement downward, under the left palm, as in _dying_,
but before passing from under the palm on the opposite side return
the index in the same manner to point of starting; then elevate it.
(_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) Fig. 252.

Other remarks upon the signs for _dead_ are given on page 353.


The hand held horizontally, back upward, describes with the arm a
horizontal curve outward. (_Long._) This is like the Eurasian motion
of benediction, but may more suggestively be compared with several of
the signs for _yes_, and in opposition to several of those for _bad_
and _no_, showing the idea of acceptance or selection of objects
presented, instead of their rejection.

Place the right hand horizontally in front of the breast and move it
forward. (_Wied._) This description is essentially the same as the
one I furnished. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.) I stated, however, that the
hand was moved outward (i.e., to the right). I do not remember seeing
it moved directly forward. In making the motion as I have described it
the hand would have to go both outward and forward. (_Matthews_.) The
left arm is elevated and the hand held in position (W). The arm and
hand are thus extended from the body on a level with the chest; the
elbow being slightly bent, the arm resembles a bent bow. The right arm
is bent and the right hand, in position (W), sweeps smoothly over the
left arm from the biceps muscle over the ends of the fingers. This
sign and _Wied's_ are noticeably similar. The difference is, the _Oto_
sign uses the left arm in conjunction and both _more to the left_. The
conception is of something that easily passes; smoothness, evenness,
etc., in both. (_Boteler_.)

Wave the hand from the mouth, extending the thumb from the index
and closing the other three fingers. This sign also means _I know_.

(1) Right-hand fingers pointing to the left placed on a level with
mouth, thumb inward; (2) suddenly moved with curve outward so as to
present palm to person addressed. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

Pass the open right hand, palm downward, from the heart, twenty-four
inches horizontally forward and to the right through an arc of about
90°. (_Dakota_ IV.) "Heart easy or smooth."

Another: Gently strike the chest two or three times over the heart
with the radial side of the right hand, the fingers partly flexed and
pointing downward. An Arapaho sign. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Place the flat right hand, palm down, thumb touching the breast, then
move it forward and slightly upward and to the right. (_Arapaho_ II;
_Cheyenne_ V; _Ojibwa_ V; _Dakota_ VI, VII, VIII; _Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_
III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

Pass the flat hand, palm down, from the breast forward and in a slight
curve to the right. (_Dakota_ VI; _Hidatsa_ I; _Ankara_ I.)

The extended right hand, palm downward, thumb backward, fingers
pointing to the left, is held nearly or quite in contact with the body
about on a level with the stomach; it is then carried outward to the
right a foot or two with a rapid sweep, in which the forearm is moved
but not necessarily the humerus. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.)

Move right hand, palm down, over the blanket, right and left, several
times. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Hit the blanket, first on the right, then on the left, palm
down, several times. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Point at the object with the right forefinger, shaking it a
little up and down, the other fingers being closed. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Same as preceding, but with the hand open, the thumb crooked
under and touching the forefinger; hand held at an angle of 45° while
shaking a little back and forth. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Hold the closed hands together, thumbs up; separate by
turning the wrists down, and move the fists a little apart; then
reverse movements till back to first position. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Hold the left hand with back toward the ground, fingers and
thumb apart, and curved; hold the right hand opposite it, palm down,
hands about six inches apart; shake the hands held thus, up and down,
keeping them the same distance apart. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Hold the hands with the palms in, thumbs up, move hands right
and left, keeping them about six inches apart. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Look at the right hand, first on the back, then on the palm,
then on the back again. (_Omaha_ I.)

The flat right hand, palm down, is moved forward and upward, starting
at a point about twelve inches before the breast. (_Wyandot_ I.)

Hold the flat right hand forward and slightly outward from the
shoulder, palm either upward or downward, and pass it edgewise
horizontally to the right and left. This sign was made when no
personality was involved. The same gesturer when claiming for himself
the character of goodness made the following: Rapidly pat the breast
with the flat right hand. (_Pima and Papago_ I.)

Throw right hand from front to side, fingers extended and palm down,
forearm horizontal. (_Sahaptin_ I.)

Make an inclination of the body forward, moving at the same time
both hands forward from the breast, open, with the palm upward,
and gradually lowering them. This is also used for _glad, pleased_.
(_Iroquois_ I.)

Bring both hands to the front, arms extended, palms outward; elevate
them upward and slightly forward; the face meanwhile expressive of
wonder. (_Comanche_ I.)

Bring the hand opposite the breast, a little below, hand extended,
palm downward (W), and let it move off in a horizontal direction. If
it be very good, this may be repeated. If comparatively good, repeat
it more violently. (_Comanche_ I.)

Hold the right hand palm down, pointing to the left, and placed
horizontally before the breast, then raise it several times slightly.
Good and glad. (_Kutchin_ I.)

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Smack the lips. (_Ballard_.)

Close the hand while the thumb is up, and nod the head and smile as if
to approve of something good. (_Hasenstab_.)

Point the forefinger to the mouth and move the lips with a pleased
look as if tasting sweet fruit. (_Larson_.)

Use the sign for _handsome_ by drawing the outstretched palm of the
right hand down over the right cheek; at the same time nod the head as
if to say "yes." (_Ziegler_.)

_Deaf-mute signs_:

Some of the Indian signs appear to be connected with a pleasant taste
in the month, as is the sign of the French and American deaf-mutes,
waving thence the hand, either with or without touching the lips, back
upward, with fingers straight and joined, in a forward and downward
curve. They make nearly the same gesture with hand sidewise for
general assent: "Very well!"

The conventional sign for _good_, given in the illustration to the
report of the Ohio Institution for the education of the deaf and dumb,
is: The right hand raised forward and closed, except the thumb, which
is extended upward, held vertically, its nail being toward the body;
this is in opposition to the sign for _bad_ in the same illustration,
the one being merely the exhibition of the thumb toward and the other
of the little finger away from the body. They are English signs, the
traditional conception being acceptance and rejection respectively.

_Italian signs_:

The fingers gathered on the mouth, kissed and stretched out and
spread, intimate a dainty morsel. The open hand stretched out
horizontally, and gently shaken, intimates that a thing is so-so, not
good and not bad. (_Butler_.) Compare also the Neapolitan sign given
by De Jorio, see Fig. 62, p. 286, _supra_. Cardinal Wiseman gives as
the Italian sign for _good_ "the hand thrown upwards and the head back
with a prolonged ah!" _Loc. cit._, p. 543.

---- Heart is.

Strike with right hand on the heart and make the sign for GOOD from
the heart outward. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

Touch the left breast over the heart two or three times with the
ends of the fingers of the right hand; then make the sign for GOOD.
(_Dakota_ IV.)

Place the fingers of the flat right hand over the breast, then make
the sign for GOOD. (_Dakota_ VII.)

Move hand to position in front of breast, fingers extended, palm
downward (W), then with quick movement throw hand forward and to
the side to a point 12 or 15 inches from body, hand same as in first
position. (_Sahaptin_ I.)

For further remarks on the signs for _good_, see page 286.


---- HOUSE.

The hand half open and the forefinger extended and separated;
then raise the hand upward and give it a half turn, as if screwing
something. (_Dunbar_.)

Cross the ends of the extended fingers of the two hands, the hands to
be nearly at right angle, radial side up, palms inward and backward,
thumbs in palms. Represents the logs at the end of a log house.
(_Creel_; _Dakota_ IV.)

Partly fold the hands; the fingers extended in imitation of the corner
of an ordinary log house. (_Arapaho_ I.)

Both hands outspread near each other, elevated to front of face;
suddenly separated, turned at right angles, palms facing; brought
down at right angles, suddenly stopped. Representing square form of a
house. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

The fingers of both hands extended and slightly separated, then those
of the right are placed into the several spaces between those of the
left, the tips extending to about the first joints. (_Absaroka_ I.)
"From the arrangement of the logs in a log building."

Both hands extended, fingers spread, place those of the right into the
spaces between those of the left, then move the hands in this position
a short distance upward. (_Wyandot_ I.) "Arrangement of logs and

[Illustration: Fig. 253.]

Both hands are held edgewise before the body, palms facing, spread the
fingers, and place those of one hand into the spaces between those
of the other, so that the tips of each protrude about an inch beyond.
(_Hidatsa_ I; _Kaiowa_ I; _Arikara_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.) "The arrangement of logs in a frontier house." Fig.
253. In connection with this sign compare the pictograph, Fig. 204,
page 379, _supra_. In ordinary conversation the sign for _white man's
house_ is often dropped, using instead the generic term employed for
_lodge_, and this in turn is often abbreviated, as by the Kaiowas,
Comanches, Wichitas, and others, by merely placing the tips of the
extended forefingers together, leaving the other fingers and thumbs
closed, with the wrists about three or four inches apart.

Both hands held pointing forward, edges down, fingers extended and
slightly separated, then place the fingers of one hand into the spaces
between the fingers of the other, allowing the tips of the fingers
of either hand to protrude as far as the first joint, or near it.
(_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.) "From the appearance of a corner of a log
house--protruding and alternate layers of logs."

Fingers of both hands interlaced at right angles several times; then
the sign for LODGE. (_Kutchin_ I.)

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Draw the outlines of a house in the air with hands tip to tip at a
right angle. (_Ballard_.)

Put the open hands together toward the face, forming a right angle
with the arms. (_Larson_.)

----, Stone; Fort.

Strike the back of the right fist against the palm of the left hand,
the left palm backward, the fist upright ("idea of resistance or
strength"); then with both hands opened, relaxed, horizontal, and
palms backward, place the ends of the right fingers behind and against
the ends of the left; then separate them, and moving them backward,
each through a semicircle, bring their bases together. The latter sign
is also that of the Arapahos for _house_. An inclosure. (_Dakota_ IV.)
The first part of this sign is that for _stone_.


The two hands are reared together in the form of the roof of a house,
the ends of the fingers upward. (_Long_.)

Place the opened thumb and forefinger of each hand opposite each
other, as if to make a circle, but leaving between them a small
interval; afterward move them from above downward simultaneously
(which is the sign for _village_); then elevate the finger to indicate
the number--one. (_Wied_.) Probably he refers to an earthen lodge. I
think that the sign I have given you is nearly the same with all the
Upper Missouri Indians. (_Matthews_.)

Place the fingers of both hands ridge-fashion before the breast.

Indicate outlines (an inverted V, thus ^), with the forefingers
touching or crossed at the tips, the other fingers closed. (_Creel_;
_Arapaho_ I.)

Both hands open, fingers upward, tips touching, brought downward,
and at same time separated to describe outline of a cone, suddenly
stopped. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

Both hands approximated, held forward horizontally, fingers joined
and slightly arched, backs upward, withdraw them in a sideward and
downward direction, each hand moving to its corresponding side, thus
combinedly describing a hemisphere. Carry up the right and, with its
index pointing downward indicate a spiral line rising upward from
the center of the previously formed arch. (_Ojibwa_ V.) "From the
dome-shaped form of the wigwam, and the smoke rising from the opening
in the roof."

Both hands flat and extended, placing the tips of the fingers of one
against those of the other, leaving the palms or wrists about four
inches apart. (_Absaroka_ I; _Wyandot_ I; _Shoshoni and Banak_ I.)
"From its exterior outline."

Both hands carried to the front of the breast and placed V-shaped,
inverted, thus ^, with the palms, looking toward each other, edge of
fingers outward, thumbs inward. (_Dakota_ I.) "From the outline of the

With the hands nearly upright, palms inward, cross the ends of the
extended forefingers, the right one either in front or behind the
left, or lay the ends together; resting the ends of the thumbs
together side by side, the other fingers to be nearly closed, and
resting against each other, palms inward. Represents the tipi poles
and the profile of the tipi. (_Dakota_ IV.)

[Illustration: Fig. 254.]

Place the tips of the fingers of both hands together in front of the
breast, with the wrists some distance apart. (_Dakota_ V.) Fig. 254.

Fingers of both hands extended and separated; then interlace them so
that the tips of the fingers of one hand protrude beyond the backs
of those of the opposing one; hold the hands in front of the breast,
pointing upward, leaving the wrists about six inches apart. (_Dakota_
VII, VIII; _Hidatsa_ I; _Ponka_ II; _Arikara_ I; _Pani_ I.)

The extended hands, with finger tips upward and touching, the palms
facing one another, and the wrists about two inches apart, are held
before the chest. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.)

Place the tip of the index against the tip of the forefinger of the
left hand, the remaining fingers and thumbs closed, before the chest,
leaving the wrists about six inches apart. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_
III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) "Outline of lodge." This is an
abbreviated sign, and care must be taken to distinguish it from _to
meet_, in which the fingers are brought from their respective sides
instead of upward to form the gesture.

Another: Place the tips of the fingers of the flat extended hands
together before the breast, leaving the wrists about six inches apart.
(_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

[Illustration: Fig. 255.]

Another: Both hands flat and extended, fingers slightly separated;
then place the fingers of the right hand between the fingers of the
left as far as the second joints, so that the fingers of one hand
protrude about an inch beyond those of the other; the wrists must be
held about six inches apart. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_
II; _Wichita_ II.) "Outline of Indian lodge and crossing of tent-poles
above the covering." Fig. 255.

Fig. 256 represents a Sahaptin sign given to the writer by a gentleman
long familiar with the northwestern tribes of Indians. The conception
is the same union of the lodge poles at the top, shown in several
other signs, differently executed.

[Illustration: Fig. 256.]

[Illustration: Fig. 257.]

Place the tips of the spread fingers of both hands against one another
pointing upward before the body, leaving a space of from four to six
inches between the wrists. Fig. 257. The fingers are sometimes bent so
as to more nearly represent the outline of a house and roof. Fig. 258.
This, however, is accidental. (_Pai-Ute_ I.) "Represents the boughs
and branches used in the construction of a Pai-Ute 'wik-i-up.'"

[Illustration: Fig. 258.]

Place the tips of the two flat hands together before the body, leaving
a space of about six inches between the wrists. (_Ute_ I.) "Outline of
the shape of the lodge."

[Illustration: Fig. 259.]

Left hand and right hand put together in shape of sloping shelter
(_Kutchin_ I.) Fig. 259.

---- Great Council House.

Place both flat and extended hands in front of the shoulders, pointing
forward, palms facing; then pass them straight upward and slightly
inward near the termination of the gesture. This appears to combine
the gestures for _much, large_, and _lodge_. (_Arikara_ I.)

----, Coming or going out of a.

Same as the sign for _entering a lodge_, only the fingers of the
right hand point obliquely upward after passing under the left hand.
(_Dakota_ I.) "Coming out from under cover."

Hold the open left hand a foot or eighteen inches in front of the
breast, palm downward or backward, fingers pointing toward the right
and pass the right, back upward, with index extended, or all of the
fingers extended, and pointing forward, about eighteen inches forward
underneath the left through an arc from near the mouth. Some at the
same time move the left hand toward the breast. (_Dakota_ IV.)

----, Entering a.

The left hand is held with the back upward, and the right hand also
with the back up is passed in a curvilinear direction down under the
other, so as to rub against its palm, then up on the other side of it.
The left hand here represents the low door of the skin lodge and the
right the man stooping down to pass in, (_Long_.)

Pass the flat right hand in short curves under the left, which is held
a short distance forward. (_Wied_.) I have described the same sign. It
is not necessary to pass the hand more than once. By saying curves,
he seems to imply many passes. If the hand is passed more than once it
means repetition of the act. (_Matthews; McChesney_.) The conception
is of the stooping to pass through the low entrance, which is often
covered by a flap of skin, sometimes stretched on a frame, and which
must be shoved aside, and the subsequent rising when the entrance has
been accomplished. A distinction is reported by a correspondent
as follows: "If the intention is to speak of a person entering the
gesturer's own lodge, the right hand is passed under the left and
toward the body, near which the left hand is held; if of a person
entering the lodge of another, the left hand is held further from the
body and the right is passed under it and outward. In both cases both
hands are slightly curved and compressed." As no such distinction is
reported by others it may be an individual invention or peculiarity.

A gliding movement of the extended hand, fingers joined, backs up,
downward, then ascending, indicative of the stooping and resumption of
the upright position in entering the same. (_Arapaho_ I.)

(1) Sign for LODGE, the left hand being still in position used in
making sign for LODGE; (2) forefinger and thumb of right hand brought
to a point and thrust through the outline of an imaginary lodge
represented by the left hand. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

First make the sign for LODGE, then place the left hand, horizontal
and slightly arched, before the body, and pass the right hand with
extended index underneath the left--forward and slightly upward beyond
it. (_Absaroka_ I; _Dakota_ V; _Shoshoni and Banak_ I; _Wyandot_ I.)

Left hand (W), ends of fingers toward the right, stationary in front
of the left breast; pass the right hand directly and quickly out from
the breast under the stationary left hand, ending with the extended
fingers of the right hand pointing outward and slightly downward,
joined, palm downward flat, horizontal (W). (_Dakota_ I.) "Gone under;

Hold the open left hand a foot or eighteen inches in front of the
breast, palm downward or backward, fingers pointing toward the right,
and pass the right hand, palm upward, fingers bent sidewise and
pointing backward, from before backward underneath it, through a
curve until near the mouth. Some at the same time move the left hand a
little forward. (_Dakota_ IV.)

The left hand, palm downward, finger-tips forward, either quite
extended or with the fingers slightly bent, is held before the
body. Then the right hand nearly or quite extended, palm downward,
finger-tips near the left thumb, and pointing toward it, is passed
transversely under the left hand and one to four inches below it. The
fingers of the right hand point slightly upward when the motion is
completed. This sign usually, but not invariably, refers to entering a
house. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.)

Place the slightly curved left hand, palm down, before the breast,
pointing to the right, then pass the flat right hand, palm down, in
a short curve forward, under and upward beyond the left. (_Ute_ I.)
"Evidently from the manner in which a person is obliged to stoop in
entering an ordinary Indian lodge."


The right hand with the edge downward, the fingers joined, the thumb
recumbent, extended forward. (_Dunbar_.)

Place the index and middle finger of the right hand astraddle the
index finger of the left. [In the original the expression "third"
finger is used, but it is ascertained in another connection that the
author counts the thumb as the first finger and always means what is
generally styled middle finger when he says third. The alteration is
made to prevent confusion.] (_Wied_.) I have described this sign in
words to the same effect. (_Matthews_.) The right arm is raised, and
the hand, opened edgewise, with fingers parallel and approximated, is
drawn from left to right before the body at the supposed height of the
animal. There is no conceivable identity in the execution of this sign
and _Wied's_, but his sign for _horse_ is nearly identical with the
sign for _ride a horse_ among the Otos. (_Boteler_.) This sign is
still used by the Cheyennes. (_Dodge_.)

A hand passed across the forehead. (_Macgowan_.)

Left-hand thumb and forefinger straightened out, held to the level of
and in front of the breast; right-hand forefinger separated from the
middle finger and thrown across the left hand to imitate the act of
bestriding. They appear to have no other conception of a horse, and
have thus indicated that they have known it only as an animal to be
ridden. (_Creel_; _Cheyenne_ II.)

Draw the right hand from left to right across the body about the
heart, the fingers all closed except the index. This is abbreviated
by making a circular sweep of the right open hand from about the left
elbow to the front of the body, probably indicating the mane. A Pani
sign. (_Cheyenne_ IV.)

Place the first two fingers of the right hand, thumb extended (N 1),
downward, astraddle the first two joined and straight fingers of the
left hand (T 1), sidewise to the right. Many Sioux Indians use only
the forefinger straightened. (_Dakota_ I.) "Horse mounted."

The first and second fingers extended and separated, remaining fingers
and thumb closed; left forefinger extended, horizontal, remaining
fingers and thumb closed; place the right-hand fingers astride of the
forefinger of the left, and both hands jerked together, up and down,
to represent the motion of a horse. (_Dakota_ III.)

The two hands being clinched and near together, palms downward, thumbs
against the forefingers, throw them, each alternately, forward and
backward about a foot, through an ellipsis two or three times, from
about six inches in front of the chest, to imitate the galloping of a
horse, or the hands may be held forward and not moved. (_Dakota_ IV.)

[Illustration: Fig. 260.]

Place the extended and separated index and second fingers of the
right hand astraddle of the extended forefinger of the left. Fig. 260.
Sometimes all the fingers of the left hand are extended in making this
sign, as in Fig. 261, though this may be the result of carelessness.
(_Dakota_ VI, VII, VIII; _Hidatsa_ I; _Ponka_ II; _Arikara_ I; _Pani_

[Illustration: Fig. 261.]

The left hand is before the chest, back upward in the position of an
index-hand pointing forward; then the first and second fingers of the
right hand only being extended, separated and pointing downward, are
set one on each side of the left forefinger, the interdigital space
resting on the forefinger. The palm faces downward and backward. This
represents a rider astride of a horse. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.)

Close hands, except forefingers, which are curved downward; move them
forward in rotation, imitating the fore feet of the horse, and make
puffing sound of "Uh, uh"! (_Omaha_ I.) "This sign represents the
horse racing off to a safe distance, and puffing as he tosses his

The arm is flexed and the hand extended is brought on a level with
the mouth. The hand then assumes the position (W 1), modified by being
held edges up and down, palm toward the chest, instead of flat. The
arm and hand being held thus about the usual height of a horse are
made to pass in an undulating manner across the face or body about one
foot distant from contact. The latter movements are to resemble the
animal's gait. (_Oto_ I.) "Height of animal and movement of same."

The index and second fingers of the right hand are placed astraddle
the extended forefinger of the left. (_Wyandot_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 262.]

Place the flat right hand, thumb down, edgewise before the right side
of the shoulder, pointing toward the right. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_
III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) Pig. 262.

[Illustration: Fig. 263.]

Another: Hold the right hand flat, extended, with fingers joined, the
thumb extended upward, then pass the hand at arm's length before the
face from left to right. This is said by the authorities cited
below to be also the Caddo sign, and that the other tribes mentioned
originally obtained it from that tribe. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ I,
III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) Fig. 263.

Another: Place the extended and separated index and second fingers
astraddle the extended and horizontal forefinger of the left hand.
This sign is only used when communicating with uninstructed white men,
or with other Indians whose sign for horse is specifically distinct.
(_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.).

[Illustration: Fig. 264.]

Place the extended index and second fingers of the right hand across
the extended first two fingers of the left. Fig. 264. Size of the
animal is indicated by passing the right hand, palm down, with fingers
loosely separated, forward from the right side, at any height as the
case may necessitate, after which the sign for HORSE may be made.
(_Pima and Papago_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 265.]

Place the right hand, palm down, before the right side of the chest;
place the tips of the second and third fingers against the ball of the
thumb, allowing the index and little fingers to project to represent
the ears. Fig. 265. Frequently the middle fingers extend equally with
and against the thumb, forming the head of the animal, the ears always
being represented by the two outer fingers, viz, the index and little
finger. Fig. 266. (_Ute_ I.) A similar sign is reported by Colonel
Dodge as used by the Utes.

[Illustration: Fig. 266.]

Elevate the right hand, extended, with fingers joined, outer edge
toward the ground, in front of the body or right shoulder, and
pointing forward, resting the curved thumb against the palmar side
of the index. This sign appears also to signify _animal_ generically,
being frequently employed as a preliminary sign when denoting other
species. (_Apache_ I.)

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Imitate the motion of the elbows of a man on horseback. (_Ballard_.)

Act in the manner of a driver, holding the lines in his hands and
shouting to the horse. (_Cross_.)

Move the hands several times as if to hold the reins. (_Larson_.)

_Deaf-mute signs_:

The French deaf-mutes add to the straddling of the index the motion of
a trot. American deaf-mutes indicate the ears by placing two fingers
of each hand on each side of the head and moving them backward and
forward. This is sometimes followed by straddling the left hand by the
fore and middle fingers of the right.

----, A man on a.

Same sign as for HORSE, with the addition of erecting the thumb while
making the gesture. (_Dodge_.)

----, Bay.

Make the sign for HORSE, and then rub the lower part of the cheek back
and forth. (_Dakota_ IV.)

----, Black.

Make the sign for HORSE, and then, point to a black object or rub
the back of the left hand with the palmar side of the fingers of the
right. (_Dakota_ IV.)

----, Bronco. An untamed horse.

Make the sign TO RIDE by placing the extended and separated index and
second fingers of the right hand astraddle the extended forefinger
of the left hand, then with both hands retained in their relative
positions move them forward in high arches to show the bucking of the
animal. (_Ute_ I.)

----, Grazing of a.

Make the sign for HORSE, then lower the hand and pass it from side to
side as if dipping it upon the surface. (_Ute_ I.)

----, Packing a.

Hold the left hand, pointing forward, palm inward, a foot in front
of the chest and lay the opened right hand, pointing forward, first
obliquely along the right side of the upper edge of the left hand,
then on top, and then obliquely along the left side. (_Dakota_ IV.)

----, Racing, Fast horse.

The right arm is elevated and bent at right angle before the face;
the hand, in position (S 1) modified by being horizontal, palm to the
face, is drawn across edgewise in front of the face. The hand is
then closed and in position (B) approaches the mouth from which it is
opened and closed successively forward several times, finally it
is suddenly thrust out in position (W 1) back concave. (_Oto and
Missouri_ I.) "Is expressed in the (_Oto_ I) sign for HORSE, then the
motion for quick running."

---- Racing.

Extend the two forefingers and after placing them parallel near
together in front of the chest, backs upward, push them rapidly
forward about a foot. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Place both hands, with the forefingers only extended and pointing
forward side by side with the palms down, before the body; then push
them alternately backward and forward, in imitation of the movement of
horses who are running "neck and neck." (_Ute_ I; _Apache_ I, II.)

----, Saddling a.

Hold the left hand as in the sign for HORSE, _Packing a_, and lay the
semiflexed right hand across its upper edge two or three times, the
ends of the right fingers toward the left. (_Dakota_ IV.)

[Illustration: Fig. 267.]

Place the extended and separated fingers rapidly with a slapping sound
astraddle the extended fore and second fingers of the left hand. The
sound is produced by the palm of the right hand which comes in contact
with the upper surface of the left. (_Ute_ I.) Pig. 267.

----, Spotted; pied.

Make the sign for HORSE, then the sign for SPOTTED, see page 345.
(_Dakota_ IV.)


The hands are held with the edge upward, and the right hand strikes
the other transversely, as in the act of chopping. This sign seems to
be more particularly applicable to convey the idea of death produced
by a blow of the tomahawk or war-club. (_Long_.)

Clinch the hand and strike from above downward. (_Wied_.) I do not
remember this. I have given you the sign for killing with a stroke.
(_Matthews_.) There is an evident similarity in conception and
execution between the (_Oto and Missouri_ I) sign and _Wied's_.
(_Boteler_.) I have frequently seen this sign made by the
Arikara, Gros Ventre, and Mandan Indians at Fort Berthold Agency.
(_McChesney_.) This motion, which maybe more clearly expressed as the
downward thrust of a knife held in the clinched hand, is still used
by many tribes for the general idea of "kill," and illustrates the
antiquity of the knife as a weapon. _Wied_ does not say whether
the clinched hand is thrust downward with the edge or the knuckles
forward. The latter is now the almost universal usage among the same
tribes from which he is supposed to have taken his list of signs, and
indicates the thrust of a knife more decisively than if the fist were
moved with the edge in advance. The actual employment of arrow, gun,
or club in taking life, is, however, often specified by appropriate

Smite the sinister palm earthward with the dexter fist sharply, in
sign of "going down"; or strike out with the dexter fist toward the
ground, meaning to "shut down"; or pass the dexter under the left
forefinger, meaning to "go under." (_Burton_.)

Right hand cast down. (_Macgowan_.)

Hold the right fist, palm down, knuckles forward, and make a thrust
forward and downward. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Dakota_ VI, VII,
VIII; _Hidatsa_ I; _Ponka_ II; _Arikara_ I; _Pani_ I.) Fig. 268.

[Illustration: Fig. 268.]

Right hand clinched, thumb lying along the finger tips, elevated to
near the shoulder, strike downward and out vaguely in the direction
of the object to be killed. The abstract sign for _kill_ is simply to
clinch the right hand in the manner described and strike it down and
out from the right side. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

Close the right hand, extending the forefinger alone; point toward
the breast, then throw from you forward, bringing the hand toward the
ground. (_Ojibwa_ V; _Omaha_ I.)

Both hands clinched, with the thumbs resting against the middle joints
of the forefingers, hold the left transversely in front of and as high
as the breast, then push the right, palm down, quickly over and down
in front of the left. (_Absaroka_ I; _Shoshoni and Banak_ I.) "To
force under--literally."

With the dexter fist carried to the front of the body at the right
side, strike downward and outward several times, with back of hand
upward, thumb toward the left, several times. (_Dakota_ I.) "Strike

With the first and second joints of the fingers of the right hand
bent, end of thumb against the middle of the index, palm downward,
move the hand energetically forward and downward from a foot in
front of the right breast. Striking with a stone--man's first weapon.
(_Dakota_, IV.)

The left hand, thumb up, back forward, not very rigidly extended, is
held before the chest and struck in the palm with the outer edge of
the right hand. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.) "To kill with a blow; to
deal the death blow." Fig. 269.

Right hand, fingers open but slightly curved, palm to the left; move
downward, describing a curve. (_Omaha_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 269.]

Another: Similar to the last, but the index finger is extended,
pointing in front of you, the other fingers but half open. (_Omaha_

Place the flat right hand, palm down, at arm's length to the right,
bring it quickly, horizontally, to the side of the head, then make
the sign for DEAD. (_Ojibwa_ V; _Wyandot_ I.) "To strike with a club,

Both hands, in positions (AA), with arms semiflexed toward the body,
make the forward rotary sign with the clinched fists as in fighting;
the right hand is then raised from the left outward, as clutching
a knife with the blade pointing downward and inward toward the left
fist; the left fist, being held _in situ_, is struck now by the right,
edgewise as above described, and both suddenly fall together. (_Oto
and Missouri_ I.) "To strike down in battle with a knife. Indians
seldom disagree or kill another in times of tribal peace."

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Strike a blow in the air with the clinched fist, and then incline the
head to one side, and lower the open hand, palm upward. (_Ballard_.)

Strike the other hand with the fist, or point a gun, and, having shot,
suddenly point to your breast with the finger, and hold your head
sidewise on the hand. (_Cross_.)

Use the closed hand as if to strike, and then move back the head with
the eyes shut and the mouth opened. (_Hasenstab_.)

Put the head down over the breast, and then move down the stretched
hand along the neck. (_Larson_.)

_Turkish sign_:

Draw finger across the throat like cutting with a knife. (_Barnum_.)

---- In battle, To.

Make the sign for BATTLE by placing both hands at the height of the
breast, palms facing, the left forward from the left shoulder, the
right outward and forward from the right, fingers pointing up and
spread, move them alternately toward and from one another; then strike
the back of the fingers of the right hand into the slightly curved
palm of the left, immediately afterward throwing the right outward and
downward toward the right. (_Ute_ I.) "Killed and falling over."

---- You; I will kill you.

Direct the right hand toward the offender and spring the finger from
the thumb, as in the act of sprinkling water. (_Long_.) The conception
is perhaps "causing blood to flow," or, perhaps, "sputtering away the
life," though there is a strong similarity to the motion used for the
_discharge of a gun or arrow_.

Remarks and illustrations connected with the signs for _kill_ appear
on pages 377 and 378, _supra_.

----, to, with a knife.

Clinch the right hand and strike forcibly toward the ground before
the breast from the height of the face. (_Ute_ I.) "Appears to have
originated when flint knives were still used."


The hand held up before the face, with the palm outward and vibrated
to and fro. (_Dunbar_.)

The right hand waved outward to the right with the thumb upward.
(_Long_; _Creel_.)

Wave the right hand quickly by and in front of the face toward the
right. (_Wied_.) Refusing to accept the idea or statement presented.

Move the hand from right to left, as if motioning away. This sign also
means "I'll have nothing to do with you." (_Burton_.)

A deprecatory wave of the right hand from front to right, fingers
extended and joined. (_Arapaho_ I; _Cheyenne_ V.)

Right-hand fingers extended together, side of hand in front of and
facing the face, in front of the mouth and waved suddenly to the
right. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

Place the right hand extended before the body, fingers pointing
upward, palm to the front, then throw the hand outward to the right,
and slightly downward. (_Absaroka_ I; _Hidatsa_ I; _Arikara_ I.) See
Fig. 65, page 290.

The right hand, horizontal, palm toward the left, is pushed sidewise
outward and toward the right from in front of the left breast. _No,
none, I have none_, etc., are all expressed by this sign. Often these
Indians for _no_ will simply shake the head to the right and left.
This sign, although it may have originally been introduced from the
white people's habit of shaking the head to express "no," has been in
use among them for as long as the oldest people can remember, yet they
do not use the variant to express "yes." (_Dakota_ I.) "Dismissing the
idea, etc."

Place the opened relaxed right hand, pointing toward the left, back
forward, in front of the nose or as low as the breast, and throw it
forward and outward about eighteen inches. Some at the same time turn
the palm upward. Or make the sign at the height of the breast with
both hands. Represents the shaking of the head. (_Dakota_ IV.) The
shaking of the head in negation is not so universal or "natural" as
is popularly supposed, for the ancient Greeks, followed by the modern
Turks and rustic Italians, threw the head back, instead of shaking it,
for "no." Rabelais makes Pantagruel (Book 3) show by many quotations
from the ancients how the shaking of the head was a frequent if
not universal concomitant of oracular utterance--not connected with

Hold the flat hand edgewise, pointing upward before the right side of
the chest, then throw it outward and downward to the right. (_Dakota_
VI, VII.) Fig. 270.

[Illustration: Fig. 270.]

The hand, extended or slightly curved, is held in front of the body
a little to the right of the median line; it is then carried with a
rapid sweep a foot or more farther to the right. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_

Place the hand as in _yes_, as follows: The hand open, palm downward,
at the level of the breast, is moved forward with a quick downward
motion from the wrist, imitating a bow of the head; then move it from
side to side. (_Iroquois_ I.) "A shake of the head."

Throw the flat right hand forward and outward to the right, palm to
the front. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

Quick motion of open hand from the mouth forward, palm toward the
mouth. (_Sahaptin_ I.)

Place hand in front of body, fingers relaxed, palm toward body (Y 1),
then with easy motion move to a point, say, a foot from the body, a
little to right, fingers same, but palm upward. (_Sahaptin_ I.) "We
don't agree." To express _All gone_, use a similar motion with both
hands. "Empty."

The hand waved outward with the thumb upward in a semi-curve.
(_Comanche_ I; _Wichita_ I.)

Elevate the extended index and wave it quickly from side to side
before the face. This is sometimes accompanied by shaking the head.
(_Pai-Ute_ I.) Fig. 271.

[Illustration: Fig. 271.]

Extend the index, holding it vertically before the face, remaining
fingers and thumb closed; pass the finger quickly from side to side a
foot or so before the face. (_Apache_ I.) This sign, as also that
of (_Pai-Ute_ I), is substantially the same as that with the same
significance reported from Naples by De Jorio.

Another: The right hand, naturally relaxed, is thrown outward and
forward toward the right. (_Apache_ I.)

Wave extended index before the face from side to side. (_Apache_ III.)

Another: Wave the index briskly before the right shoulder. This
appears to be more common than the preceding. (_Apache_ III.)

Right hand extended at the height of the eye, palm outward, then moved
outward a little toward the right. (_Kutchin_ I.)

Extend the palm of the right hand horizontally a foot from the waist,
palm downward, then suddenly throw it half over from the body, as if
tossing a chip from the back of the hand. (_Wichita_ I.)

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Shake the head. (_Ballard._)

Move both hands from each other, and, at the same time, shake the
head. (_Hasenstab._)

_Deaf-mute signs_:

French deaf-mutes wave the hand to the right and downward, with
the first and second fingers joined and extended, the other fingers
closed. This position of the fingers is that for the letter N in the
finger alphabet, the initial for the word _non_. American deaf-mutes
for emphatic negative wave the right hand before the face.

_Turkish sign_:

Throwing head back or elevating the chin and partly shutting the eyes.
This also means, "Be silent." (_Barnum._)

_Japanese sign_:

Move the right hand rapidly back and forth before the face.
Communicated in a letter from Prof. E.S. MORSE, late of the University
of Tokio, Japan. The same correspondent mentions that the Admiralty
Islanders pass the forefinger across the face, striking the nose in
passing, for negation. If the _no_ is a doubtful one they _rub_ the
nose in passing, a gesture common elsewhere.

For further illustrations and comparisons see pp. 290, 298, 299, 304,
355, and 356, _supra_.


Motion of rubbing out. (_Macgowan_.)

_Little_ or _nothing_ is signified by passing one hand over the other.
(_Creel_; _Ojibwa_ I.)

May be signified by smartly brushing the right hand across the left
from the wrist toward the fingers, both hands extended, palms toward
each other and fingers joined. (_Arapaho_ I.)

Is included in _gone, destroyed. (Dakota_ I.)

Place the open left hand about a foot in front of the navel, pointing
obliquely forward toward the right, palm obliquely upward and
backward, and sweep the palm of the open right hand over it and about
a foot forward and to the right through a curve. All bare. (_Dakota_

Another: Pass the ulnar side of the right index along the left index
several times from tip to base, while pronating and supinating the
latter. Some roll the right index over on its back as they move it
along the left. The hands are to be in front of the navel, backs
forward and outward, the left index straight and pointing forward
toward the right, the right index straight and pointing forward and
toward the left; the other fingers loosely closed. Represents a bush
bare of limbs. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Another: With the light hand pointing obliquely forward to the left,
the left forward to the right, palms upward, move them alternately
several times up and down, each time striking the ends of the fingers.
Or, the left hand being in the above position, rub the right palm in a
circle on the left two or three times, and then move it forward and to
the right. Rubbed out; that is all; it is all gone. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Pass the palm of the flat right hand over the left from the wrist
toward and off of the tips of the fingers. (_Dakota_ VI, VII, VIII;
_Ponka_ II; _Pani_ I.) Fig. 272.

[Illustration: Fig. 272.]

Brush the palm of the left hand from wrist to finger tips with the
palm of the right. (_Wyandot_ I.)

Another: Throw both hands outward toward their respective sides from
the breast. (_Wyandot_ I.)

Pass the flat right palm over the palm of the left hand from the wrist
forward over the fingers. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.) "Wiped out."

Hold the left hand open, with the palm upward, at the height of the
elbow and before the body; pass the right quickly over the left, palms
touching, from the wrist toward the tips of the left, as if brushing
off dust. (_Apache_ I.)

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Place the hands near each other, palms downward, and move them
over and apart, bringing the palms upward in opposite directions.

Make a motion as in picking up something between the thumb and finger,
carry it to the lips, blow it away, and show the open hand. (_Wing_.)

_Australian sign_:

_Pannie_ (none or nothing). For instance, a native says _Bomako
ingina_ (give a tomahawk). I reply by shaking the hand, thumb, and all
fingers, separated and loosely extended, palm down. (_Smyth_, _loc.
cit._) Fig. 273.

[Illustration: Fig. 273.]

_Turkish sign_:

Blowing across open palm as though blowing off feathers; also means
"Nothing, nothing left." (_Barnum_.)

----, I have none.

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Expressed by the signs for none, after pointing to one's self.

Stretch the tongue and move it to and fro like a pendulum, then shake
the head as if to say "no." (_Ziegler_.)

---- Left. Exhausted for the present.

Hold both hands naturally relaxed nearly at arm's length before the
body, palms toward the face, move them alternately to and fro a few
inches, allowing the fingers to strike those of the opposite hand each
time as far as the second joint. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_
II; _Wichita_ II.) Cleaned out.


The flat of the right hand patting the back of the left hand, which is
repeated in proportion to the greater or lesser quantity. (_Dunbar_.)
Simple repetition.

The hands and arms are passed in a curvilinear direction outward and
downward, as if showing the form of a large globe; then the hands are
closed and elevated, as if something was grasped in each hand and held
up about as high as the face. (_Long_; _Creel_.)

Clutch at the air several times with both hands. The motion greatly
resembles those of danseuses playing the castanets. (_Ojibwa_ I.)

In the preceding signs the authorities have not distinguished between
the ideas of "many" and "much." In the following there appears by the
expressions of the authorities to be some distinction intended between
a number of objects and a quantity in volume.

---- MANY.

A simultaneous movement of both hands, as if gathering or heaping up.
(_Arapaho_ I.) Literally "a heap."

Both hands, with spread and slightly curved fingers, are held pendent
about two feet apart before the thighs; then draw them toward one
another, horizontally, drawing them upward as they come together.
(_Absaroka_ I; _Shoshoni and Banak_ I; _Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III;
_Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) "An accumulation of objects."

Hands about eighteen inches from the ground in front and about the
same distance apart, held scoop-fashion, palms looting toward each
other, fingers separated; then, with a diving motion, as if scooping
up corn from the ground, bring the hands nearly together, with fingers
nearly closed, as though holding the corn, and carry upward to
the height of the breast, where the hands are turned over, fingers
pointing downward, separated, as though the contents were allowed to
drop to the ground. (_Dakota_ I, II.)

Open the fingers of both hands, and hold the two hands before the
breast, with the fingers upward and a little apart, and the palms
turned toward each other, as if grasping a number of things.
(_Iroquois_ I.)

Place the hands on either side of and as high as the head, then open
and close the fingers rapidly four or five times. (_Wyandot_ I.)
"Counting 'tens' an indefinite number of times."

Clasp the hands effusively before the breast. (_Apache_ III.)

_Deaf-mute natural signs_;

Put the fingers of the two hands together, tip to tip, and rub them
with a rapid motion. (_Ballard_.)

Make a rapid movement of the fingers and thumbs of both hands upward
and downward, and at the same time cause both lips to touch each other
in rapid succession, and both eyes to be half opened. (_Hasenstab_.)

Move the fingers of both hands forward and backward. (_Ziegler_.) Add
to _Ziegler's_ sign: slightly opening and closing the hands. (_Wing_.)

---- Horses.

Raise the right arm above the head, palm forward, and thrust forward
forcibly on a line with the shoulder. (_Omaha_ I.)

---- Persons, etc.

Hands and fingers interlaced. (_Macgowan_.)

Take up a bunch of grass or a clod of earth; place it in the hand of
the person addressed, who looks down upon it. (_Omaha_ I.) "Represents
as many or more than the particles contained in the mass."

---- MUCH.

Move both hands toward one another and slightly upward. (_Wied_.) I
have seen this sign, but I think it is used only for articles that may
be piled on the ground or formed into a heap. The sign most in use for
the general idea of _much_ or _many_ I have given. (_Matthews_.)

Bring the hands up in front of the body with the fingers carefully
kept distinct. (_Cheyenne_ I.)

Both hands closed, brought up in a curved motion toward each other to
the level of the neck or chin, (_Cheyenne_ II.)

Both hands and arms are partly extended; each hand is then made to
describe, simultaneously with the other, from the head downward, the
arc of a circle curving outward. This is used for _large_ in some
senses. (_Ojibwa_ V; _Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.)

Both hands flat and extended, placed before the breast, finger tips
touching, palms down; then separate them by passing outward and
downward as if smoothing the outer surface of a globe. (_Absaroka_
I; _Shoshoni and Banack_ I; _Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.) "A heap."

_Much_ is included in _many_ or _big_, as the case may require.
(_Dakota_ I.)

The hands, with fingers widely separated, slightly bent, pointing
forward, and backs outward, are to be rapidly approximated through
downward curves, from positions twelve to thirty-six inches apart, at
the height of the navel, and quickly closed. Or the hands may be moved
until the right is above the left. So much that it has to be gathered
with both hands. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Hands open, palms turned in, held about three feet apart and about two
feet from the ground. Raise them about a foot, then bring in an upward
curve toward each other. As they pass each other, palms down, the
right hand is about three inches above the left. (_Omaha_ I.)

Place both hands flat and extended, thumbs touching, palms downward,
in front of and as high as the face; then move them outward and
downward a short distance toward their respective sides, thus
describing the upper half of a circle. (_Wyandot_ I.) "A heap."

Both hands clinched, placed as high as and in front of the hips, palms
facing opposite sides and about a foot apart, then bring them upward
and inward, describing an arc, until the thumbs touch. (_Apache_ I.)
Fig. 274.

[Illustration: Fig. 274.]

Sweep out both hands as if inclosing a large object; wave the hands
forward and somewhat upward. (_Apache_ III.) "Suggesting immensity."

_Deaf-mute sign_:

The French deaf-mutes place the two hands, with fingers united and
extended in a slight curve, nearly together, left above right, in
front of the body, and then raise the left in a direct line above the
right, thus suggesting the idea of a large and slightly-rounded object
being held between the two palms.

---- And heavy.

Hands open, palms turned in, held about three feet apart, and about
two feet from the ground, raise them about a foot; close the fists,
backs of hands down, as if lifting something heavy; then move a short
distance up and down several times. (_Omaha_ I.)

Remarks connected with the signs for _quantity_ appear on pages 291,
359, and 382, _supra_.


The palm of the hand upward and carried circularly outward, and
depressed. (_Dunbar_.)

The hand held up with the thumb near the face, and the palm directed
toward the person of whom the inquiry is made; then rotated upon the
wrist two or three times edgewise, to denote uncertainty. (_Long;
Comanche_ I; _Wichita_ I.) The motion might be mistaken for the
derisive, vulgar gesture called "taking a sight," "_donner un pied
de nez_," descending to our small boys from antiquity. The separate
motion of the fingers in the vulgar gesture as used in our eastern
cities is, however, more nearly correlated with some of the Indian
signs for _fool_, one of which is the same as that for _Kaiowa_, see
TRIBAL SIGNS. It may be noted that the Latin "_sagax_," from which is
derived "sagacity," was chiefly used to denote the keen scent of dogs,
so there is a relation established between the nasal organ and wisdom
or its absence, and that "_suspendere naso_" was a classic phrase for
hoaxing. The Italian expressions "_restare con un palmo di naso_,"
"_con tanto di naso_," etc., mentioned by the canon De Jorio, refer
to the same vulgar gesture in which the face is supposed to be thrust
forward sillily. Further remarks connected with this sign appear on
pp. 304, 305, _supra_.

Extend the open hand perpendicularly with the palm outward, and move
it from side to side several times. (_Wied_.) This sign is still used.
For "outward," however, I would substitute "forward." The hand is
usually, but not always, held before the face. (_Matthews_.) This is
not the sign for _question_, but is used to attract attention before
commencing a conversation or any other time during the talk, when
found necessary. (_McChesney_.) With due deference to Dr. McChesney,
this is the sign for _question_, as used by many tribes, and
especially Dakotas. The Prince of Wied probably intended to convey the
motion of _forward, to the front_, when he said _outward_. In making
the sign for _attention_ the hand is held more nearly horizontal,
and is directed toward the individual whose attention is desired.

Right hand in front of right side of body, forearm horizontal, palm
of hand to the left, fingers extended, joined and horizontal, thumb
extending upward naturally, turn hand to the left about 60°, then
resume first position. Continue this motion for about two to four
seconds, depending on earnestness of inquiry. (_Creel_.)

Right hand, fingers pointing upward, palm outward, elevated to the
level of the shoulder, extended toward the person addressed, and
slightly shaken from side to side. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

Hold the elbow of the right arm against the side, extending the right
hand, palm inward, with all the fingers straight joined, as far as
may be, while the elbow remains fixed against the side; then turn the
extended hand to the right and left, repeating this movement several
times, being performed by the muscles of the arm. (_Sac, Fox, and
Kickapoo_ I.)

Place the flat and extended right hand, palm forward, about twelve
inches in front of and as high as the shoulder, then shake the hand
from side to side as it is moved upward and forward. (_Apache_ I.)
See Fig. 304, in TENDOY-HUERITO DIALOGUE, p. 486. This may be compared
with the ancient Greek sign, Fig. 67, and with the modern Neapolitan
sign, Fig. 70, both of which are discussed on p. 291, _supra_.

_Deaf-mute natural sign_:

A quick motion of the lips with an inquiring look. (_Ballard_.)

_Deaf-mute sign_:

The French deaf-mutes for _inquiry_, "_qu'est-ce que c'est_?" bring
the hands to the lower part of the chest, with open palms about a foot
separate and diverging outward.

_Australian sign_:

One is a sort of note of interrogation. For instance, if I were
to meet a native and make the sign: Hand flat, fingers and thumb
extended, the two middle fingers touching, the two outer slightly
separated from the middle by turning the hand palm upward as I met
him, it would mean: "Where are you going?" In other words I should say
"_Minna_?" (what name?). (_Smyth_.) Fig. 275.

[Illustration: Fig. 275.]

Some comparisons and illustrations connected with the signs for
_question_ appear on pages 291, 297, and 303, _supra_, and under
PHRASES, _infra_. Quintilian remarks upon this subject as follows: "In
questioning, we do not compose our gesture after any single manner;
the position of the hand, for the most part is to be changed, however
disposed before."


----, American.

The upright nearly closed hands, thumbs against the middle of the
forefingers, being in front of the body, with their thumbs near
together, palms forward, separate them about two feet horizontally on
the same line. All in a line in front. (_Cheyenne_ III; _Dakota_ IV.)

Pass each hand down the outer seam of the pants. (_Sac, Fox, and
Kickapoo_ I.) "Stripes."

Sign for WHITE MAN as follows: The extended index (M turned inward)
is drawn from the left side of the head around in front to the right
side, about on a line with the brim of the hat, with the back of the
hand outward; and then for FORT, viz, on level of the breasts in
front of body, both hands with fingers turned inward, straight, backs
joined, backs of hands outward, horizontal, turn outward the hands
until the fingers are free, curve them, and bring the wrists together
so as to describe a circle with a space left between the ends of the
curved fingers. (_Dakota_ I.) "From his fortified place of abode."

Another: Both hands in front of body, fists, backs outward, hands in
contact, draw them apart on a straight line right to right, left to
left about two feet, then draw the index, other fingers closed, across
the forehead above the eyebrows. This is the sign preferred by the
Sioux. (_Dakota_ I.)

Extend the fingers of the right hand; place the thumb on the same
plane close beside them, and then bring the thumb side of the hand
horizontally against the middle of the forehead, palm downward and
little finger to the front. (_Dakota_ II; _Ute_ I.) "Visor of forage

First make the sign for SOLDIER substantially the same as (_Dakota_
VI) below, then that for WHITE MAN, viz.: Draw the opened right hand
horizontally from left to right across the forehead a little above the
eyebrows, the back of the hand to be upward and the fingers pointing
toward the left; or, close all the fingers except the index and
draw it across the forehead in the same manner. (_Dakota_ IV.) For
illustrations of other signs for white man see Figs 315 and 329,

[Illustration: Fig. 276.]

Place the radial sides of the clinched hands together before the
chest, then draw them horizontally apart. (_Dakota_ VI; _Arikara_ I.)
"All in a line." Fig. 276.

Put thumbs to temples, and forefingers forward, meeting in front,
other fingers closed. (_Apache_ III.) "Cap-visor."

----, Arikara.

Make the sign for ARIKARA (see TRIBAL SIGNS) and that for BRAVE.
(_Arikara_ I.)

----, Dakota.

Make the sign for DAKOTA (see TRIBAL SIGNS) and that for SOLDIER.
(_Dakota_ VI.)

----, Indian.

Both fists before the body, palms down, thumbs touching, then
draw them horizontally apart to the right and left. (_Arapaho_ II;
_Cheyenne_ V; _Ponka_ II; _Pani_ I.) This is the same sign illustrated
in Fig. 276, above, as given by tribes there cited for _white_ or
_American_ soldier. The tribes now cited use it for _a soldier_ of the
same tribe as the gesturer, or perhaps for _soldier_ generically, as
they subjoin a tribal sign or the sign for _white man_, when desiring
to refer to any other than their own tribe.


---- TRADE.

First make the sign of EXCHANGE (see below), then pat the left arm
with the right finger, with a rapid motion from the hand passing it
toward the shoulder. (_Long_.)

Strike the extended index finger of the right hand several times
upon that of the left. (_Wied_.) I have described the same sign in
different terms and at greater length. It is only necessary, however,
to place the fingers in contact once. The person whom the prince saw
making this sign may have meant to indicate something more than the
simple idea of trade, i.e., trade often or habitually. The idea of
frequency is often conveyed by the repetition of a sign (as in some
Indian languages by repetition of the root). Or the sign-maker may
have repeated the sign to demonstrate it more clearly. (_Matthews_.)
Though some difference exists in the motions executed in _Wied's_ sign
and that of (_Oto and Missouri_ I), there is sufficient similarity
to justify a probable identity of conception and to make them easily
understood. (_Boteler_.) In the author's mind _exchange_ was probably
intended for one transaction, in which each of two articles took the
place before occupied by the other, and _trade_ was intended for a
more general and systematic barter, indicated by the repetition of
strokes. Such distinction would not perhaps have occurred to most
observers, but as the older authorities, such as Long and Wied, give
distinct signs under the separate titles of _trade_ and _exchange_
they must be credited with having some reason for so doing. A
pictograph connected with this sign is shown on page 381, _supra_.

Cross the forefingers of both hands before the breast. (_Burton_.)
"Diamond cut diamond." This conception of one smart trader cutting
into the profits of another is a mistake arising from the rough
resemblance of the sign to that for _cutting_. Captain Burton is
right, however, in reporting that this sign for _trade_ is also used
for _white man, American_, and that the same Indians using it orally
call white men "shwop," from the English or American word "swap" or
"swop." This is a legacy from the early traders, the first white men
met by the Western tribes, and the expression extends even to the
Sahaptins on the Yakama River, where it appears incorporated in their
language as _swiapoin_. It must have penetrated to them through the

Cross the index fingers. (_Macgowan_.)

Cross the forefingers at right angles. (_Arapaho_ I.)

Both hands, palms facing each other, forefingers extended, crossed
right above left before the breast. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

The left hand, with forefinger extended, pointing toward the right
(rest of fingers closed), horizontal, back outward, otherwise as (M),
is held in front of left breast about a foot; and the right hand, with
forefinger extended (J), in front of and near the right breast, is
carried outward and struck over the top of the stationary left (+)
crosswise, where it remains for a moment. (_Dakota_ I.)

Hold the extended left index about a foot in front of the breast,
pointing obliquely forward toward the right, and lay the extended
right index at right angles across the left, first raising the right
about a foot above the left, palms of both inward, other fingers half
closed. This is also an Arapaho sign as well as Dakota. Yours is there
and mine is there; take either. (_Dakota_ IV.)

[Illustration: Fig. 277.]

Place the first two fingers of the right hand across those of the
left, both being slightly spread. The hands are sometimes used, but
are placed edgewise. (_Dakota_ V.) Fig. 277.

Another: The index of the right hand is laid across the forefinger of
the left when the transaction includes but two persons trading single
article for article. (_Dakota_ V.)

Strike the back of the extended index at a right angle against the
radial side of the extended forefinger of the left hand. (_Dakota_ VI,
VII.) Fig. 278.

[Illustration: Fig. 278.]

The forefingers are extended, held obliquely upward, and crossed at
right angles to one another, usually in front of the chest. (_Mandan
and Hidatsa_ I.)

Bring each hand as high as the breast, forefinger pointing up, the
other fingers closed, then move quickly the right hand to the left,
the left to the right, the forefingers making an acute angle as they
cross. (_Omaha_ I; _Ponka_ I.)

The palm point of the right index extended touches the chest; it is
then turned toward the second individual interested, then touches the
object. The arms are now drawn toward the body, semiflexed, with the
hands, in type-positions (W W), crossed, the right superposed to the
left. The individual then casts an interrogating glance at the second
person. (_Oto and Missouri_ I.) "To cross something from one to

Close the hands, except the index fingers and the thumbs; with them
open, move the hands several times past one another at the height of
the breast; the index fingers pointing upward and the thumbs outward.
(_Iroquois_ I.) "The movement indicates 'exchanging.'"

Hold the left hand horizontally before the body, with the forefinger
only extended and pointing to the right, palm downward; then, with the
right hand closed, index only extended, palm to the right, place the
index at right angles on the forefinger of the left, touching at the
second joints. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_

Pass the hands in front of the body, all the fingers closed except the
forefingers. (_Sahaptin_ I.)

Close the fingers of both hands (K); bring them opposite each
shoulder; then bring the hands across each other's pathway, without
permitting them to touch. At the close of the sign the left hand will
be near and pointing at the right shoulder; right hand will be near
and pointing at the left shoulder. (_Comanche_ I.)

Close both hands, leaving the forefingers only extended; place the
right before and several inches above the left, then pass the right
hand toward the left elbow and the left hand toward the right elbow,
each hand following the course made by a flourishing cut with a short
sword. This sign, according to the informant, is also employed by the
Banak and Umatilla Indians. (_Comanche_ II; _Pai-Ute_ I.)

The forefingers of both hands only extended, pass the left from left
to right, and the right at the same time crossing its course from
the tip toward the wrist of the left, stopping when the wrists cross.
(_Ute_ I.) "Exchange of articles."

Right hand carried across chest, hand extended, palm upward, fingers
and thumb closed as if holding something; left hand, in same position,
carried across the right, palm downward. (_Kutchin_ I.)

Hands pronated and forefingers crossed. (_Zuñi_ I.)

_Deaf-mute natural sign_:

Close the hand slightly, as if taking something, and move it forward
and open the hand as if to drop or give away the thing, and again
close and withdraw the hand as if to take something else. (_Bollard_.)

American instructed deaf-mutes use substantially the sign described by
(_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I).

---- To buy.

[Illustration: Fig. 279.]

Hold the left hand about twelve inches before the breast, the thumb
resting on the closed third and fourth fingers; the fore and second
fingers separated and extended, palm toward the breast; then pass the
extended index into the crotch formed by the separated fingers of the
left hand. This is an invented sign, and was given to illustrate the
difference between buying and trading. (_Ute_ I.) Fig. 279.

_Deaf-mute natural sign_:

Make a circle on the palm of the left hand with the forefinger of the
right hand, to denote _coin_, and close the thumb and finger as if to
take the money, and put the hand forward to signify giving it to some
one, and move the hand a little apart from the place where it left the
money, and then close and withdraw the hand, as if to take the thing
purchased. (_Ballard_.)

_Italian sign_:

To indicate paying, in the language of the fingers, one makes as
though he put something, piece after piece, from one hand into the
other--a gesture, however, far less expressive than that when a man
lacks money, and yet cannot make up a face to beg it; or simply
to indicate want of money, which is to rub together the thumb and
forefinger, at the same time stretching out the hand. (_Butler_.) An
illustration from De Jorio of the Neapolitan sign for _money_ is given
on page 297, _supra_.


The two forefingers are extended perpendicularly, and the hands are
then passed by each other transversely in front of the breast so as
nearly to exchange positions. (_Long_.)

Pass both hands, with extended forefingers, across each other before
the breast. (_Wied_.) See remarks on this author's sign for TRADE,

Hands brought up to front of breast, forefingers extended and other
fingers slightly closed; hands suddenly drawn toward and past each
other until forearms are crossed in front of breast. (_Cheyenne_ II.)
"Exchange; right hand exchanging position with the left."

Left hand, with forefinger extended, others closed (M, except back of
hand outward), is brought, arm extended, in front of the left breast,
and the extended forefinger of the right hand, obliquely upward,
others closed, is placed crosswise over the left and maintained in
that position for a moment, when the fingers of the right hand are
relaxed (as in Y), brought near the breast with hand horizontal, palm
inward, and then carried out again in front of right breast twenty
inches, with palm looking toward the left, fingers pointing forward,
hand horizontal, and then the left hand performs the same movements on
the left side of the body, (_Dakota_ I.) "You give me, I give you."

The hands, backs forward, are held as index hands, pointing upward,
the elbows being fully bent; each hand is then, simultaneously with
the other, moved to the opposite shoulder, so that the forearms cross
one another almost at right angles. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.)


The motion is somewhat like _truth_, viz: The forefinger in the
attitude of pointing, from the mouth forward in a line curving a
little upward, the other fingers being carefully closed; but
the finger is held rather more upright, and is passed nearly
straightforward from opposite the breast, and when at the end of its
course it seems gently to strike something, though with rather a slow
and not suddenly accelerated motion. (_Long_.)

Wave the hand straight forward from the face. (_Burton_.) This may
be compared with the forward nod common over most of the world for
assent, but that gesture is not universal, as the New Zealanders
elevate the head and chin, and the Turks are reported by several
travelers to shake the head somewhat like our negative. Rev. H.N.
Barnum denies that report, giving below the gesture observed by him.
He, however, describes the Turkish gesture sign for _truth_ to
be "gently bowing with head inclined to the right." This sidewise
inclination may be what has been called the shake of the head in

Another: Wave the hand from the mouth, extending the thumb from the
index and closing the other three fingers. (_Burton_.)

Gesticulate vertically downward and in front of the body with the
extended forefinger (right hand usually), the remaining fingers and
thumb closed, their nails down. (_Creel_; _Arapaho_ I.)

Right hand elevated to the level and in front of the shoulder, two
first fingers somewhat extended, thumb resting against the middle
finger; sudden motion in a curve forward and downward. (_Cheyenne_
II.) It has been suggested that the correspondence between this
gesture and the one given by the same gesturer for sitting (made by
holding the right hand to one side, fingers and thumb drooping, and
striking downward to the ground or object to be sat upon) seemingly
indicates that the origin of the former is in connection with the idea
of "resting," or "settling a question." It is however at least equally
probable that the forward and downward curve is an abbreviation of the
sign for _truth, true_, a typical description of which follows given
by (_Dakota_ I). The sign for _true_ can often be interchanged with
that for _yes_, in the same manner as the several words.

The index of the horizontal hand (M), other fingers closed, is carried
straight outward from the mouth. This is also the sign for _truth_.
(_Dakota_ I.) "But one tongue."

Extend the right index, the thumb against it, nearly close the other
fingers, and holding it about a foot in front of the right breast,
bend the hand from the wrist downward until the end of the index has
passed about six inches through an arc. Some at the same time move the
hand forward a little. (_Dakota_ IV.) "A nod; the hand representing
the head and the index the nose."

Hold the naturally closed hand before the right side of the breast,
or shoulder, leaving the index and thumb extended, then throw the
hand downward, bring the index against the inner side of the thumb.
(_Dakota_ VI, VII, VIII.) Fig. 280. Compare also Fig. 61, p. 286,
_supra_, Quintilian's sign for approbation.

[Illustration: Fig. 280.]

The right hand, with the forefinger only extended and pointing
forward, is held before and near the chest. It is then moved forward
one or two feet, usually with a slight curve downward. (_Mandan and
Hidatsa_ I.)

Bend the right arm, pointing toward the chest with the index finger;
unbend, throwing the hand up and forward. (_Omaha_ I.)

Another: Close the three fingers, close the thumb over them, extend
forefinger, and then shake forward and down. This is more emphatic
than the preceding, and signifies, _Yes, I know_. (_Omaha_ I.)

The right arm is raised to head with the index finger in type-position
(I1), modified by being more opened. From aside the head the hands
sweep in a curve to the right ear as of something entering or hearing
something; the finger is then more open and carried direct to the
ground as something emphatic or direct. (_Oto and Missouri_ I.) "'I
hear,' emphatically symbolized." It is doubted if this sign is
more than an expression of understanding which may or may not
imply positive assent. It would not probably be used as a direct
affirmative, for instance, in response to a question.

The hand open, palm downward, at the level of the breast, is moved
forward with a quick downward motion from the wrist, imitating a bow
of the head. (_Iroquois_ I.)

Throw the closed right hand, with the index extended and bent, as high
as the face, and let it drop again naturally; but as the hand reaches
its greatest elevation the index is fully extended and suddenly drawn
into the palm, the gesture resembling a beckoning from above toward
the ground. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

Quick motion of the right hand forward from the mouth; first position
about six inches from the mouth and final as far again away. In first
position the index finger is extended, the others closed; in final,
the index loosely closed, thrown in that position as the hand is
moved forward, as though hooking something with it; palm of hand out.
(_Sahaptin_ I.)

Another: Move right hand to a position in front of the body, letting
arm hang loosely at the side, the thumb standing alone, all fingers
hooked except forefinger, which is partially extended (E 1, palm
upward). The sign consists in moving the forefinger from its partially
extended position to one similar to the others, as though making a sly
motion for some one to come to you. This is done once each tune the
assent is made. More emphatic than the preceding. (_Sahaptin_ I.) "We
are together, think alike."

_Deaf-mute natural sign_:

Indicate by nodding the head. (_Ballard_.)

_Deaf-mute sign_:

The French mutes unite the extremities of the index and thumb so as to
form a circle and move the hand downward with back vertical and turned
outward. It has been suggested in explanation that the circle formed
and exhibited is merely the letter O, the initial of the word _oui_.

_Fiji sign_:

Assent is expressed, not by a downward nod as with ourselves, but by
an upward nod; the head is jerked backward. Assent is also expressed
by uplifting the eyebrows. (_Fison_.)

_Turkish sign_:

One or two nods of the head forward. (_Barnum_.)

Other remarks and illustrations upon the signs for _yes_ are given on
page 286, _supra_.



The hands held out each side, and striking the air in the manner of
flying. (_Long_.)

Imitate the flapping of the bird's wings with the two hands, palms
downward, brought close to the shoulder. (_Burton_.)

Imitate the flapping of a bird's wings with the two hands, palms to
the front and brought close to the shoulder. (_Creel_.)

Place the flat hand as high as and in front or to the side of the
right shoulder, move it up and down, the motion occurring at the
wrist. For more thorough representation both hands are sometimes
employed. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Dakota_ V, VI, VIII; _Ponka_
II; _Kaiowa_ I; _Pani_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)
"Bird's wing."

Both hands extended, with fingers joined (W), held near the shoulders,
and flapped to represent the wings of a crow. (_Dakota_ II, III.)

At the height of the shoulders and a foot outward from them, move
the upright hands forward and backward twice or three times from the
wrist, palms forward, fingers and thumbs extended and separated a
little; then place the back or the palm of the upright opened right
hand against the upper part of the forehead; or half close the
fingers, placing the end of the thumb against the ends of the fore
and middle fingers, and then place the back of the hand against the
forehead. This sign is also made by the Arapahos. (_Dakota_ IV.) "To
imitate the flying of a bird, and also indicate the manner in which
the Absaroka wear their hair."

[Illustration: Fig. 281.]

Make with the arms the motion of flapping wings. (_Kutine_ I.)

The flat right hand, palm outward to the front and right, is held in
front of the right shoulder, and quickly waved back and forth a few
times. When made for the information of one ignorant of the common
sign, both hands are used, and the hands are moved outward from
the body, though still near the shoulder. (_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.)
"Wings, i.e., of a crow." Fig. 281.


[Illustration: Fig. 282.]

Make either of the signs for POOR, IN PROPERTY, by rubbing the index
back and forth over the extended left forefinger; or, by passing the
extended index alternately along the upper and lower sides of the
extended left forefinger from tip to base. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_
III; _Apache_ II; Wichita II.) Fig. 282. "It is said that when the
first Apache came to the region they now occupy he was asked who or
what he was, and not understanding the language he merely made the
sign for _poor_, which expressed his condition."

[Illustration: Fig. 283.]

Rub the back of the extended left forefinger from end to end with the
extended index. (_Comanche_ II; _Ute_ I.) "Poor, poverty-stricken."

----, Coyotero.

Place the back of the right hand near the end of the foot, the fingers
curved upward, to represent the turned-up toes of the moccasins.
(_Pima and Papago_ I; _Apache_ I.) Fig. 283.

----, Mescalero.

Same sign as for LIPAN _q.v._ (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_
II; _Wichita_ II.)

----, Warm Spring.

Hand curved (Y, more flexed) and laid on its back on top of the foot
(_moccasins much curved up at toe_); then draw hands up legs to near
knee, and cut off with edges of hands (_boot tops_). (_Apache_ III.)
"Those who wear booted moccasins with turn-up toes."


The fingers of one hand touch the breast in different parts, to
indicate the tattooing of that part in points. (_Long_.)

Seize the nose with the thumb and forefinger. (Randolph B. Marcy,
captain United States Army, in _The Prairie Traveler_. _New York_,
1859, p. 215.)

Rub the right side of the nose with the forefinger: some call this
tribe the "Smellers," and make their sign consist of seizing the nose
with the thumb and forefinger. (_Burton_.)

Finger to side of nose. (_Macgowan_.)

Touch the left breast, thus implying what they call themselves, viz:
the "Good Hearts." (_Arapaho_ I.)

Rub the side of the extended index against the right side of the nose.
(_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.)

Hold the left hand, palm down, and fingers extended; then with the
right hand, fingers extended, palm inward and thumb up, make a sudden
stroke from left to right across the back of the fingers of the left
hand, as if cutting them off. (_Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo_ I.) This is
believed to be an error of the authority, and should apply to the
CHEYENNE tribal sign.

Join the ends of the fingers (the thumb included) of the right hand,
and, pointing toward the heart near the chest, throw the hand forward
and to the right once, twice, or many times, through an arc of about
six inches. (_Dakota_ IV.) "Some say they use this sign because these
Indians tattoo their breasts."

Collect the fingers and thumb of the right hand to a point, and tap
the tips upon the left breast briskly. (_Comanche_ II; _Ute_ I.)
"Goodhearted." It was stated by members of the various tribes at
Washington, in 1880, that this sign is used to designate the Northern
Arapahos, while that in which the index rubs against or passes upward
alongside of the nose refers to the Southern Arapahos.

Another: Close the right hand, leaving the index only extended; then
rub it up and down, held vertically, against the side of the nose
where it joins the cheek. (_Comanche_ II; _Ute_ I.)

The fingers and thumb of the right hand, are brought to a point, and
tapped upon the right side of the breast. (_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.)


Imitate the manner of shelling corn, holding the left hand stationary,
the shelling being done with the right. (_Creel_.) Fig. 284.

With the right hand closed, curve the thumb and index, join their tips
so as to form a circle, and place to the lobe of the ear. (_Absaroka_
I; _Hidatsa_ I.) "Big ear-rings." Fig. 285.

Both hands, fists, (B, except thumbs) in front of body, backs looking
toward the sides of the body, thumbs obliquely upward, left hand
stationary, the backs of the fingers of the two hands touching, carry
the right thumb forward and backward at the inner side of the left
thumb and without moving the hand from the left, in imitation of the
act of shelling corn. (_Dakota_ I, VII, VIII.)

Collect the fingers and thumb of the right hand nearly to a point,
and make a tattooing or dotting motion toward the upper portion of
the cheek. This is the old sign, and was used by them previous to the
adoption of the more modern one representing "corn-eaters." (_Arikara_

[Illustration: Fig. 284.]

[Illustration: Fig. 285.]

Place the back of the closed right hand transversely before the mouth,
and rotate it forward and backward several times. This gesture may be
accompanied, as it sometimes is, by a motion of the jaws as if eating,
to illustrate more fully the meaning of the rotation of the fist.
(_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Wichita_ II; _Apache_ I.) "Corn-eater;
eating corn from the ear."

Signified by the same motions with the thumbs and forefingers that are
used in shelling corn. The dwarf Ree (Arikara) corn is their peculiar
possession, which their tradition says was given to them by a superior
being, who led them to the Missouri River and instructed them how to
plant it. (Rev. C.L. Hall, in _The Missionary Herald_, April, 1880.)
"They are the corn-shellers." Have seen this sign used by the Arikaras
as a tribal designation. (_Dakota_ II.)


Hands in front of abdomen, horizontal, backs outward, ends of fingers
pointing toward one another, separated and arched (H), then, moved up
and down and from side to side as though covering a corpulent body.
This sign is also used to indicate the Gros Ventres of the Prairie or
Atsina. (_Dakota_ I.)

Make the sign of _cutting the throat_. (_Kutine_ I.) As the
Assinaboins belong to the Dakotan stock, the sign generally given for
the Sioux may be used for them also.

With the right hand flattened, form a curve by passing it from the top
of the chest to the pubis, the fingers pointing to the left, and the
back forward. (_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.) "Big bellies."


Both hands closed, the tips of the fingers pointing toward the wrist
and resting upon the base of the joint, the thumbs lying upon, and
extending over the middle joint of the forefingers; hold the left
before the chest, pointing forward, palm up, placing the right, with
palm down, just back of the left, and move as if picking small
objects from the left with the tip of the right thumb. (_Absaroka_ I;
_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.) "Corn-shellers."

Bring the extended and separated fingers and thumb loosely to a point,
flexed at the metacarpal joints; point them toward the left clavicle,
and imitate a dotting motion as if tattooing the skin. (_Kaiowa_
I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) "They used to tattoo
themselves, and live in the country south of the Dakotas."

See also the sign of (_Dakota_ I) under ASSINABOIN.


Make a whistling sound "phew" (beginning at a high note and ending
about an octave lower); then draw the extended index across the throat
from the left to the right and out to nearly at arm's length. They
used to cut the throats of their prisoners. (_Pai-Ute_ I.)

Major Haworth states that the _Banaks_ make the following sign for
themselves: Brush the flat right hand backward over the forehead as if
forcing back the hair. This represents the manner of wearing the tuft
of hair backward from the forehead. According to this informant, the
Shoshoni use the same sign for BANAK as for themselves.


The finger and thumb encircle the ankle. (_Long_.)

Pass the right hand, bent spoon-fashion, from the heel to the little
toe of the right foot. (_Burton_.)

The palmar surfaces of the extended fore and second fingers of the
right hand (others closed) are rubbed along the leg just above the
ankle. This would not seem to be clear, but these Indians do not make
any sign indicating _black_ in connection with the above. The sign
does not, however, interfere with any other sign as made by the Sioux.
(_Creel_; _Dakota_ I.) "Black feet."

Pass the flat hand over the outer edge of the right foot from the heel
to beyond the toe, as if brushing off dust. (_Dakota_ V, VII, VIII.)
Fig. 286.

[Illustration: Fig. 286.]

Touch the right foot with the right hand. (_Kutine_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 287.]

Close the right hand, thumb resting over the second joint of the
forefinger, palm toward the face, and rotate over the cheek, though
an inch or two from it. (_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.) "From manner of
painting the cheeks." Fig. 287.


Pass the horizontally extended index from right to left under the
nose. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ I, II, III;
_Apache_ II; _Wichita_ I, II.) "'Pierced noses,' from former custom
of perforating the septum for the reception of rings." Fig. 288. This
sign is also used for the Sahaptin. For some remarks see page 345.

[Illustration: Fig. 288.]



Draw the hand across the arm, to imitate cutting it with a knife.
(_Marcy_ in _Prairie Traveller_, _loc. cit._, p. 215.)

Draw the lower edge of the right hand across the left arm as if
gashing it with a knife. (_Burton_.)

With the index-finger of the right hand proceed as if cutting the left
arm in different places with a sawing motion from the wrist upward, to
represent the cuts or burns on the arms of that nation. (_Long_.)

Bridge palm of left hand with index-finger of right. (_Macgowan_.)

Draw the extended right hand, fingers joined, across the left wrist as
if cutting it. (_Arapaho_ I.)

Pass the ulnar side of the extended index repeatedly across the
extended finger and back of the left hand. Frequently, however, the
index is drawn across the wrist or forearm. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_
V; _Ponka_ II; _Pani_ I.) Fig. 289. See p. 345 for remarks.

[Illustration: Fig. 289.]

The extended index, palm upward, is drawn across the forefinger of the
left hand (palm inward), several times, left hand stationary, right
hand is drawn toward the body until the index is drawn clear off; then
repeat. Some Cheyennes believe this to have reference to the former
custom of cutting the arm as offerings to spirits, while others think
it refers to a more ancient custom of cutting off the enemy's fingers
for necklaces. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

Place the extended index at the right side of the nose, where it joins
the face, the tip reaching as high, as the forehead, and close to the
inner corner of the eye. This position makes the thumb of the right
hand rest upon the chin, while the index is perpendicular. (_Sac, Fox,
and Kickapoo_ I.) It is considered that this sign, though given to the
collaborator as expressed, was an error. It applies to the Southern
Arapahos. Lieutenant Creel states the last remark to be correct, the
gesture having reference to the Southern bands.

As though sawing through the left forearm at its middle with the edge
of the right held back outward, thumb upward. Sign made at the
left side of the body. (_Dakota_ I.) "Same sign as for a _saw_. The
Cheyenne Indians are known to the Sioux by the name of 'The Saws.'"

Right-hand fingers and thumb extended and joined (as in S), outer edge
downward, and drawn sharply across the other fingers and forearm as if
cutting with a knife. (_Dakota_, III.)

Draw the extended right index or the ulnar (inner) edge of the open
right hand several times across the base of the extended left index,
or across the left forearm at different heights from left to right.
This sign is also made by the Arapahos. (_Dakota_ IV.) "Because their
arms are marked with scars from cuts which they make as offerings to

Draw the extended index several times across the extended forefinger
from the tip toward the palm, the latter pointing forward and slightly
toward the right. From the custom of striping arms transversely
with colors. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ II, III; _Apache_ II; _Ute_ I;
_Wichita_ II.)

Another: Make the sign for DOG, viz: Close the right hand, leaving
the index and second fingers only extended and joined, hold it forward
from and lower than the hip and draw it backward, the course following
the outline of a dog's form from head to tail; then add the sign TO
EAT, as follows: Collect the thumb, index, and second fingers to a
point, hold them above and in front of the mouth and make a repeated
dotting motion toward the mouth. This sign is generally used, but
the other and more common one is also employed, especially so with
individuals not fully conversant with the sign language as employed by
the Comanches, &c. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_
II.) "Dog-eaters."

Draw the extended index across the back of the left hand and arm as if
cutting it. The index does not touch the arm as in signs given for the
same tribe by other Indians, but is held at least four or five inches
from it. (_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.)



Imitate, by the waving of the hand or forefinger, the forward crawling
motion of a snake. (_Burton_, also _Blackmore_ in introduction to
Dodge's _Plains of the Great West_. _New York_, 1877, p. xxv.) The
same sign is used for the Shoshoni, more commonly called "Snake",
Indians, who as well as the Comanches belong to the Shoshonian
linguistic family. "The silent stealth of the tribe." (_Dodge; Marcy_
in _Thirty Years of Army Life on the Border_. _New York_, 1866,
p. 33.) Rev. A.J. Holt remarks, however, that among the Comanches
themselves the conception of this sign is the trailing of a rope, or
lariat. This refers probably to their well-known horsemanship.

Motion of a snake. (_Macgowan_.)

Hold the elbow of the right arm near the right side, but not touching
it; extend the forearm and hand, palm inward, fingers joined on a
level with the elbow, then with a shoulder movement draw the forearm
and hand back until the points of the fingers are behind the body; at
the same time that the hand is thus being moved back, turn it right
and left several times. (_Creel_; _Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo_ I.) "Snake
in the grass. A snake drawing itself back in the grass instead of
crossing the road in front of you."

Another: The sign by and for the Comanches themselves is made by
holding both hands and arms upward from the elbow, both palms inward,
and passing both hands with their backs upward along the lower end of
the hair to indicate _long hair_, as they never cut it. (_Sac, Fox,
and Kickapoo_ I.)

Right hand horizontal, flat, palm downward (W), advanced to the front
by a motion to represent the crawling of a snake. (_Dakota_ III.)

Extend the closed right hand to the front and left; extend the index,
palm down, and rotate from side to side while drawing it back to
the right hip. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Dakota_ VI, VII, VIII;
_Ponka_ II; _Kaiowa_ I; _Pani_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.) This motion is just the reverse of the sign for
_Shoshoni_, see Fig. 297 _infra_.

Make the reverse gesture for _Shoshoni_, i.e., begin away from
the body, drawing the hand back to the side of the right hip while
rotating it. (_Comanche_ II.)


Sign for WAGON and then the sign for MAN. (_Dakota_ I.) "This
indicates the Red River half-breeds, with their carts, as these people
are so known from their habit of traveling with carts."

Place the first and second fingers of the right hand in front of the
mouth. (_Kutine_ I.)



The edge of the hand passed across the throat, as in the act of
cutting that part. (_Long_; _Marcy_ in _Army Life_, p. 33.)

Draw the lower edge of the hand across the throat. (_Burton_.)

Draw the extended right hand across the throat. (_Arapaho_ I.) "The

Pass the flat right hand, with palm down, from left to right across
the throat. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Dakota_ VI, VIII; _Ponka_
II; _Pani_ I.)

Draw the forefinger of the left hand from right to left across the
throat. (_Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo_ I.) "A cut-throat."

Forefinger and thumb of right hand extended (others closed) is drawn
from left to right across the throat as though cutting it. The Dakotas
have been named the "cut-throats" by some of the surrounding tribes.
(_Dakota_ I.) "Cut-throats."

Right hand horizontal, flat, palm downward (as in W), and drawn across
the throat as if cutting with a knife. (_Dakota_ II, III.)

Draw the open right hand, or the right index, from left to right
horizontally across the throat, back of hand upward, fingers pointing
toward the left. This sign is also made by the Arapahos. (_Dakota_
IV.) "It is said that after a battle the Utes took many Sioux
prisoners and cut their throats; hence the sign "cut-throats."

Draw the extended right hand, palm downward, across the throat from
left to right. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ II, III; _Shoshoni and Banak_
I; _Ute_ I; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) "Cut-throats." Fig 290.

[Illustration: Fig. 290.]

----, Blackfoot (Sihasapa).

Pass the flat right hand along the outer edge of the foot from the
heel to beyond the toes. (_Dakota_ VIII; _Hidatsa_ I; _Ponka_ II;
_Arikara_ I; _Pani_ I.) Same as Fig. 286, above.

Pass the right hand quickly over the right foot from the great toe
outward, turn the heel as if brushing something therefrom. (_Dakota_

Pass the widely separated thumb and index of the right hand over the
lower leg, from just below the knee nearly down to the heel. (_Kaiowa_
I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

----, Brulé.

Rub the upper and outer part of the right thigh in a small circle with
the open right hand, fingers pointing downward. This sign is also made
by the Arapahos. (_Dakota_ IV.) "These Indians were once caught in a
prairie fire, many burned to death, and others badly burned about
the thighs; hence the name Si-caⁿ-gu 'burnt thigh' and the sign.
According to the Brulé chronology, this fire occurred in 1763, which
they call 'The-People-were-burned-winter.'"

Pass the flat right hand quickly over the thigh from near the buttock
forward, as if brushing dust from that part. (_Dakota_ V, VI, VII,

Brush the palm of the right hand over the right thigh, from near the
buttock toward the front of the middle third of the thigh. (_Kaiowa_
I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

----, Ogalala.

Fingers and thumb separated, straight (as in R), and dotted about over
the face to represent the marks made by the small-pox. (_Arapaho_ II;
_Cheyenne_ V; _Dakota_ III, VI, VII, VIII.) "This band suffered from
the disease many years ago."

With the thumb over the ends of the fingers, hold the right hand
upright, its back forward, about six inches in front of the face, or
on one side of the nose near the face, and suddenly extend and spread
all the fingers, thumb included. (_Dakota_ IV.) "The word _Ogalala_
means scattering or throwing at, and the name was given them, it is
said, after a row in which they threw ashes into one another's faces."


One hand placed on the top of the head, and the other on the back of
the head. (_Long_.)

Place the right hand to the top of the head. (_Kutine_ I.)

Pat the right side of the head above and back of the ear with the
flat right hand. (_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.) From the elongation of the
occiput. Fig. 291.

[Illustration: Fig. 291.]


Same sign as for SAC. (_Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo_ I.)



Both hands flat and extended, palms toward the body, with the tips
of the fingers pointing toward one another; pass from the top of the
chest downward, outward, and inward toward the groin. (_Absaroka_ I;
_Dakota_ V, VI, VII, VIII; _Shoshoni and Banak_ I.) "Big belly."

Left and right hands in front of breast, left placed in position
first, separated about four or five inches, left hand outside of the
right, horizontal, backs outward, fingers extended and pointing left
and right; strike the back of the right against the palm of the left
several times, and then make the sign for GO, GOING, as follows: Both
hands (A 1) brought to the median line of body on a level with the
breast, some distance apart, then describe a series of half circles or
forward arch-like movements with both hands. (_Dakota_ I.) "The Gros
Ventre Indians, Minitaris (the Hidatsa Indians of _Matthews_), are
known to the Sioux as the Indians who went to the mountains to kill
their enemies; hence the sign."

Express with the hand the sign of a big belly. (_Dakota_ III.)

Pass the flat right hand, back forward, from the top of the breast,
downward, outward, and inward to the pubis. (_Dakota_ VI; _Hidatsa_ I;
_Arikara_ I.) "Big belly."


Hand in type-position K, inverted, back forward, is raised above the
head with forefinger directed perpendicularly to the crown. Describe
with it a short gentle curve upward and backward in such a manner
that the finger will point upward and backward, back outward, at the
termination of the motion. (_Ojibwa_ V.) "Indicates a feather planted
upon the head--the characteristic adornment of the Indian."

Make the sign for WHITE MAN, viz: Draw the open right hand
horizontally from left to right across the forehead a little above the
eyebrows, the back of the hand to be upward and the fingers pointing
toward the left, or close all the fingers except the index, and draw
it across the forehead in the same manner; then make the sign for NO;
then move the upright index about a foot from side to side, in front
of right shoulder, at the same time rotating the hand a little.
(_Dakota_ IV.)

Rub the back of the extended left hand with the palmar surfaces of the
extended fingers of the right. (_Comanche_ II.) "People of the same
kind; dark-skinned."

Rub the back of the left hand with the index of the right. (_Pai-Ute_
I; _Wichita_ I.)


Make the signs of the PRAIRIE and of DRINKING WATER. (_Burton_;
_Blackmore_ in Dodge's _Plains of the Great West_. _New York_, 1877,
p. xxiv.)

Cheyennes make the same sign as (_Comanche_ II), and think it was
intended to convey the idea of cropping the hair. The men wear one
side of the hair of the head full length and done up as among the
Cheyennes, the other side being kept cropped off about even with the
neck and hanging loose. (_Cheyenne_ II.)

Right-hand fingers and thumb, extended and joined (as in W), placed in
front of right shoulder, and revolving loosely at the wrist. (_Dakota_

Place the flat hand with extended and separated fingers before the
face, pointing forward and upward, the wrist near the chin; pass
it upward and forward several times. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III;
_Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

[Illustration: Fig. 292.]

Place the right hand a short distance above the right side of the
head, fingers and thumb separated and extended; shake it rapidly
from side to side, giving it a slight rotary motion in doing so.
(_Comanche_ II.) "Rattle-brained." Fig. 292. See p. 345 for remarks
upon this sign.

Same sign as (_Comanche_ II), with the exception that both hands are
generally used instead of the right one only. (_Ute_ I.)

Make a rotary motion of the right hand, palm extended upward and
outward by the side of the head. (_Wichita_ I.) "Crazy heads."


With the thumb and finger go through the motion of clipping the hair
over the ear; then with the hand make a sign that the borders of the
leggings are wide. (_Sac, Fox, and, Kickapoo_ I.)



Place the index or second finger of the right hand on each side of the
left index finger to imitate riding a horse. (_Kutine_ I.)

Hold the left fist, palm upward, at arm's length before the body,
the right as if grasping the bowstring and drawn back. (_Shoshoni
and Banak_ I.) "From their peculiar manner of holding the long bow
horizontally in shooting." Fig. 293.

[Illustration: Fig. 293.]


With the index and second fingers only extended and separated, hold
the hand at arm's length to the front of the left side; draw it back
in distinct jerks; each time the hand rests draw the fingers back
against the inside of the thumb, and when the hand is again started
on the next movement backward snap the fingers to full length. This
is repeated five or six times during the one movement of the hand. The
country which the Lipans at one time occupied contained large ponds or
lakes, and along the shores of these the reptile was found which gave
them this characteristic appellation. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III;
_Apache_ III; _Wichita_ II.) "Frogs." Fig. 294.

[Illustration: Fig. 294.]


The first and second fingers of the right hand extended, separated,
backs outward, other fingers and thumb closed, are drawn from the left
shoulder obliquely downward in front of the body to the right hip.
(_Dakota_ I.) "The Mandan Indians are known to the Sioux as 'The
people who wear a scarlet sash, with a train,' in the manner above




Right hand horizontal, back outward, fingers separated, arched, tips
pointing inward, is moved from right to left breast and generally over
the front of the body with a trembling motion and at the same time
a slight outward or forward movement of the hand as though drawing
something out of the body, and then make the sign for MAN, viz: The
right-hand is held in front of the right breast with the forefinger
extended, straight upright (J), with the back of the hand outward;
move the hand upward and downward with finger extended. (_Dakota_ I.)
"Perhaps the first Chippewa Indian seen by a Sioux had an eruption on
his body, and from that his people were given the name of the 'People
with a breaking out,' by which name the Chippewas have ever been known
by the Sioux."


Pull at the eyebrows over the left eye with the thumb and forefinger
of the left hand. This sign is also used by the Osages themselves.
(_Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo_ I.)

Hold the flat right hand, back forward, with the edge pointing
backward, against the side of the head, then make repeated cuts, and
the hand is moved backward toward the occiput. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_
III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.) "Former custom of shaving the hair
from the sides of the head, leaving but an occipito-frontal ridge."

Pass the flat and extended right hand backward over the right side of
the head, moving the index against the second finger in imitation
of cutting with a pair of scissors. (_Comanche_ II.) "Represents the
manner of removing the hair from the sides of the head, leaving a
ridge only from the forehead to the occiput."



Imitate a wolf's ears with the two forefingers of the right hand
extended together, upright, on the left side of the head. (_Burton._)

Place a hand on each side of the forehead, with two fingers pointing
to the front to represent the narrow, sharp ears of the wolf. (_Marcy_
in _Prairie Traveler_, p. 215.)

Extend the index and second fingers of the right hand upward from the
right side of the head. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V; _Dakota_ VII,
VIII; _Ponka_ II; _Pani_ I; _Comanche_ II.)

Right hand, as (N), is passed from the back part of the right side
of the head, forward seven or eight inches. (_Dakota_ I.) "The Pani
Indians are known as the _Shaved-heads_, i.e., leaving only the scalp
locks on the head."

First and second fingers of right hand, straight upward and separated,
remaining fingers and thumb closed (as in N), like the ears of a small
wolf. (_Dakota_ III.)

Place the closed right hand to the side of the temple, palm forward
leaving the index and second fingers extended and slightly separated,
pointing upward. This is ordinarily used, though, to be more explicit,
both hands may be used. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Ute_ I; _Apache_
II; _Wichita_ II.) For illustration see Fig. 336, facing page 531.


Make the motion of paddling a canoe. (_Kutine_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 295.]

Both fists are held as if grasping a paddle vertically downward and
working a canoe. Two strokes are made on each side of the body from
the side backward. (_Shoshoni_ and _Banak_ I.) Fig. 295.


Place the clinched hand back of the occiput as if grasping the queue,
then place both fists in front of the right shoulder, rotating
them slightly to represent a loose mass of an imaginary substance.
Represents the large mass of hair tied back of the head. (_Arapaho_
II; _Cheyenne_ V.)



Pass the extended palm of the right hand over the right side of the
head from front to back, and the palm of the left hand in the same
manner over the left side of the head. (_Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo_ I.)
"Shaved-headed Indians."


The right index, back outward, passed from right to left under the
nose. Piercing the nose to receive the ring. (_Creel_; _Dakota_ I.)

Place the thumb and forefinger to the nostrils. (_Kutine_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 296.]

Close the right hand, leaving the index straight but flexed at right
angles with the palm; pass it horizontally to the left by and under
the nose. (_Comanche_ II.) "Pierced nose." Fig. 296. This sign is
made by the Nez Percés for themselves, according to Major Haworth.
Information was received from Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians, who
visited Washington in 1880, that this sign is also used to designate
the _Caddos_, who practiced the same custom of perforating the
nasal septum. The same informants also state that the _Shawnees_ are
sometimes indicated by the same sign.

Pass the extended index, pointing toward the left, remaining fingers
and thumb closed, in front of and across the upper lip, just below
the nose. The second finger is also sometimes extended. (_Shoshoni and
Banak_ I.) "From the custom of piercing the noses for the reception of

See p. 345 for remarks upon the signs for _Sahaptin_.






The forefinger is extended horizontally and passed along forward in a
serpentine line. (_Long_.)

Right hand closed, palm down, placed in front of the right hip; extend
the index and push it diagonally toward the left front, rotating it
quickly from side to side in doing so. (_Absaroka_ I; _Shoshoni and
Banak_ I.) "Snake." Fig. 297.

[Illustration: Fig. 297.]

Right hand, horizontal, flat, palm downward (W), advanced to the front
by a motion to represent the crawling of a snake. (_Dakota_ III.)

With the right index pointing forward, the hand is to be moved forward
about a foot in a sinuous manner, to imitate the crawling of a snake.
Also made by the Arapahos. (_Dakota_ IV.)

Place the closed right hand, palm down, in front of the right hip;
extend the index, and move it forward and toward the left, rotating
the hand and finger from side to side in doing so. (_Kaiowa_ I;
_Comanche_ II, III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

Make the motion of a serpent with the right finger. (_Kutine_ I.)

Close the right hand, leaving the index only extended and pointing
forward, palm to the left, then move it forward and to the left.
(_Pai-Ute_ I.) The rotary motion of the hand does not occur in this
description, which in this respect differs from the other authorities.

----, Sheepeater. Tukuarikai.

Both hands, half closed, pass from the top of the ears backward,
downward, and forward, in a curve, to represent a ram's horns; then,
with the index only extended and curved, place the hand above and in
front of the mouth, back toward the face, and pass it downward and
backward several times. (_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.) "Sheep," and "to




Right hand hollowed, lifted to mouth, and describing waving line
gradually descending from right to left; left hand describing
mountainous outline, one peak rising above the other. (_Kutchin_ I.)"


"They who live on mountains" have a complicated sign which denotes
"living in mountains," and is composed of the signs SIT and MOUNTAIN.

Rub the back of the extended flat left hand with the extended fingers
of the right, then touch some black object. Represents black skin.
Although the same sign is generally used to signify _negro_, an
addition is sometimes made as follows: place the index and second
fingers to the hair on the right side of the head, and rub them
against each other to signify _curly hair_. This addition is only made
when the connection would cause a confusion between the "black skin"
Indian (_Ute_) and negro. (_Arapaho_ II; _Cheyenne_ V.)

Left hand horizontal, flat, palm downward, and with the fingers of the
right hand brush the other toward the wrist. (_Dakota_ III.)

Place the flat and extended left hand at the height of the elbow
before the body, pointing to the front and right, palm toward the
ground; then pass the palmar surface of the flat and extended fingers
of the right hand over the back of the left from near the wrist toward
the tips of the fingers. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II;
_Wichita_ II.) "Those who use sinew for sewing, and for strengthening
the bow."

Indicate the color _black_, then separate the thumbs and forefingers
of both hands as far as possible, leaving the remaining fingers
closed, and pass upward over the lower part of the legs. (_Shoshoni_
and _Banak_ I.) "Black or dark leggings."



Indicate a circle over the upper portion of the right cheek, with
the index or several fingers of the right hand. The statement of the
Indian authorities for the above is that years ago the Wichita women
painted spiral lines on the breasts, starting at the nipple and
extending several inches from it; but after an increase in modesty
or a change in the upper garment, by which the breast ceased to be
exposed, the cheek has been adopted as the locality for the sign.
(_Creel_; _Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)

Extend the fingers and thumb of the right hand, semi-closed, and bring
the hand toward the face nearly touching it, repeating this several
times as if going through the motion of tattooing. The Comanches call
the Wichitas "Painted Faces"; Caddos call them "Tattooed Faces," both
tribes using the same sign. (_Comanche_ I.)


Pass the flat right hand from the top of the forehead backward over
the head and downward and backward as far as the length of the arm.
(_Wyandot_ I.) "From the manner of wearing the hair."



The sign for _go_ by closing the hand (as in type position B 1)
and bending the arm; the hand is then brought horizontally to the
epigastrium, after which both the hand and arm are suddenly extended;
the sign for _house_ or _lodge_; the sign for _cars_, consisting of
the sign for _go_ and _wagon_, e.g., both arms are flexed at a right
angle before the chest; the hands then assume type position (L)
modified by the index being hooked and the middle finger partly opened
and hooked similarly; the hands are held horizontally and rotated
forward side by side to imitate two wheels, palms upward; and the sign
for _council_ as follows: The right arm is raised, flexed at elbow,
and the hand brought to the mouth (in type position G 1, modified by
being inverted), palm up, and the index being more open. The hand then
passes from the mouth in jerks, opening and closing successively; then
the right hand (in position S 1), horizontal, marks off divisions on
the left arm extended. The sign for _father_ is briefly executed by
passing the open hand down and from the loins, then bringing it erect
before the body; then the sign for _cars_, making with the mouth
the noise of an engine. The hands then raised before the eyes and
approximated at points, as in the sign for _lodge_; then diverge to
indicate _extensive_; this being followed by the sign for _council_.
(_Oto and Missouri_ I.) "The home of our father, where we go on the
puffing wagon to council."


Make the sign for _water_ by placing the right hand upright six or
eight inches in front of the mouth, back outward, index and thumb
crooked, and their ends about an inch apart, the other fingers nearly
closed; then move it toward the mouth, and then downward nearly to the
top of the breast-bone, at the same time turning the hand over toward
the mouth until the little finger is uppermost; and the sign for
_large_ as follows: The opened right hands, palms facing, fingers
relaxed and slightly separated, being at the height of the breast and
about two feet apart, separate them nearly to arm's length; and then
rapidly rotate the right hand from right to left several times, its
back upward, fingers spread and pointing forward to show that it is
stirred up or muddy. (_Dakota_ IV.)

[Illustration: Fig. 298.]


[Illustration: Fig. 299.]

Place the clinched fists to either side of the head with the
forefingers extended and curved, as in Fig. 298; then extend the left
hand, flat, palm down, before the left side, fingers pointing forward;
the outer edge of the flat and extended right hand is then laid
transversely across the back of the left hand, and slid forward
over the fingers as in Fig. 299. (_Dakota_ VI; _Ankara_ I.) "Bull
and eagle--'_Haliaëtus leucocephalus, (Linn.) Sav._'" In the
picture-writing of the Moquis, Fig. 300 represents the eagle's tail as
showing the difference of color which is indicated in the latter part
of the above gesture.

[Illustration: Fig. 300.]


Place the right fist in front of the right side of the breast, palm
down; extend and curve the thumb and little finger so that their tips
point toward one another before the knuckles of the remaining closed
fingers, then reach forward a short distance and pull toward the body
several times ratter quickly; suddenly push the fist, in this form,
forward to arm's length twice. (_Dakota_ VI; _Arikara_ I.) "Bear, and


With the index only of the right hand extended, indicate a line of
curve from the sacrum (or from the right buttock) downward, backward,
and outward toward the right; then extend the left forefinger,
pointing forward from the left side, and with the extended index draw
imaginary lines transversely across the left forefinger. (_Absaroka_
I; _Shoshoni_ I; _Dakota_ VI, VII; _Arikara_ I.) "Tail, and spotted."


Place the right fist in front of the right side of the breast, palm
down; extend and curve the thumb and little finger so that their tips
point toward one another before the knuckles of the remaining closed
fingers; then place the left flat hand edgewise before the breast,
pointing to the right; hold the right hand flat pointing down nearer
the body; move it forward toward the left, so that the right-hand
fingers strike the left palm and fall downward beyond the left.
(_Kaiowa_ I.) "Bear, and stumble or stumbling."


Place the right hand in front of the right side, palm down; close all
the fingers excepting the index, which is slightly curved, pointing
forward; then push the hand forward to arm's length twice, very
quickly. (_Dakota_ VI; _Arikara_ I.) "Man running rapidly or swiftly."


Place the extended and separated index and second fingers of the right
hand astraddle the extended forefinger of the left hand. With the
right hand loosely extended, held as high as and nearly at arm's
length before the shoulder, make several cuts downward and toward the
left. (_Comanche_ III.) "Horse, and prairie or wild."



Close the right hand, leaving the thumb and index fully extended and
separated; place the index over the forehead so that the thumb points
to the right, palm toward the face; then draw the index across the
forehead toward the right; then elevate the extended index, pointing
upward before the shoulder or neck; pass it upward as high as the top
of the head; make a short turn toward the front and pass it pointing
downward toward the ground, to a point farther to the front and a
little lower than at the beginning. (_Absaroka_ I; _Dakota_ VI, VII;
_Shoshoni and Banak_ I; _Ute_ I; _Apache_ I.) "White man and chief."

Make the sign for _white man_ (American), by passing the palmar
surface of the extended index and thumb of the right hand across the
forehead from left to right, then that for _chief_, and conclude by
making that for _parent_ by collecting the fingers and thumb of the
right hand nearly to a point and drawing them forward from the left
breast. (_Kaiowa_ I; _Comanche_ III; _Apache_ II; _Wichita_ II.)
"White man; chief; father."


Draw the palmar side of the index across the forehead from left to
right, resting the thumb upon the right temple, then make the sign for
_chief_--the white chief, "Secretary;" then make the sign for _great
lodge, council house_, by making the sign for _lodge_, then placing
both hands somewhat bent, palms facing, about ten inches apart, and
passing them upward from the waist as high as the face. (_Arikara_ I.)


After placing the index into the mouth--_mother_, point the index at
the individual addressed--_your_, then separate and extend the index
and second fingers of the right hand; hold them, pointing forward,
about twelve or fifteen inches before the face, and move them from
side to side, eyes following the same direction--_I see_, then throw
the flat right hand in a short curve outward to the right until the
back points toward the ground--_not_, and look inquiringly at the
individual addressed. (_Ute_ I.) "Mother your I see not; where is


Point to the person and make sign for _brave_, at same time looking
with an inquiring expression. (_Absaroka_ I; _Shoshoni and Banak_ I.)


Move the open left hand, palm to the front, toward the left and away
from the body slowly (motion of the buffalo when chased). Move right
hand on wrist as axis, rapidly (man on pony chasing buffalo); then
extend left hand to the left, draw right arm as if drawing a bow, snap
the forefinger and middle finger of left hand, and thrust the right
forefinger over the left hand. (_Omaha_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 301.]


Bring the thumb, index and second fingers to a point as if grasping a
small object, the remaining fingers naturally extended, then place the
hand just above the mouth and a few inches in front of it, and make
repeated thrusts quickly toward the mouth several times; then place
the naturally extended right hand nearly at arm's length before the
body, palm up, fingers pointing toward the front and left, and make
a short circular motion with the hand, as in Fig. 301, bringing the
outer edge toward the body as far as the wrist will permit, throwing
the hand forward again at a higher elevation. The motion being at the
wrist only. (_Absaroka_ I; _Dakota_ VII, VIII; _Comanche_ III.)


Raise the right hand above the head (J 2), palm to the front, all the
fingers closed except the index, hand slanting a little to backward,
then move forward and downward toward the person addressed, describing
a curve. (_Omaha_ I.)


Lean forward, and, holding the hands concavo-convex, draw them up over
the limbs severally, then cross on the chest as wrapping a blanket.
The arms are then extended before the body, with the hands in
type-position (W), to a height indicating a large pile. The right hand
then sweeps outward, showing a negative state of mind. The index
of right hand finally touches the chest of the second party and
approaches the body, in position (I), horizontal. (_Oto and Missouri_
I.) "Something to put on that I don't want from you."


Hold the extended and flattened right hand, palm forward, at the
height of the shoulder or face, and about fifteen inches from it,
shaking the hand from side to side (at the wrist) as the arm is
slightly raised, resembling the outline of an interrogation mark (_?_)
made from below upward. (_Absaroka_ I; _Dakota_ V, VI, VII; _Hidatsa_
I; _Kaiowa_ I; _Arikara_ I; _Comanche_ II, III; _Pai-Ute_ I; _Shoshoni
and Banak_ I; _Ute_ I; _Apache_ I, II; _Wichita_ II.)

---- What? What is it?

First attract the person's notice by the sign for _attention_, viz:
The right hand (T) carried directly out in front of the body, with arm
fully extended and there moved sidewise with rapid motions; and then
the right hand, fingers extended, pointing forward or outward, fingers
joined, horizontal, is carried outward, obliquely in front of the
right breast, and there turned partially over and under several times.
(_Dakota_ I.)

---- What are you doing? What do you want?

Throw the right hand about a foot from right to left several times,
describing an arc with its convexity upward, palm inward, fingers
slightly bent and separated, and pointing forward. (_Dakota_ IV.)

---- When?

With its index extended and pointing forward, back upward, rotate the
right hand several times to the right and left, describing an arc with
the index. (_Dakota_ IV.)

---- What are you? i.e., What tribe do you belong to?

Shake the upright open right hand four to eight inches from side to
side a few times, from twelve to eighteen inches in front of the chin,
the palm forward, fingers relaxed and a little separated. (_Dakota_

It must be remarked that in the three preceding signs there is no
essential difference, either between themselves or between them and
the general sign for QUESTION above given, which can be applied to
the several special questions above mentioned. A similar remark may
be made regarding several signs given below, which are printed in
deference to collaborators.

Pass the right hand from left to right across the face. (_Kutine_ I.)

---- What do you want?

The arm is drawn to front of chest and the hand in position (N 1),
modified by palms being downward and hand horizontal. From the
chest center the hand is then passed spirally forward toward the one
addressed; the hand's palm begins the spiral motion with a downward
and ends in an upward aspect. (_Oto_ I.) "To unwind or open."

---- Whence come you?

First the sign for _you_, viz: The hand open, held upward obliquely,
and pointing forward; then the hand, extended open and drawn to the
breast, and lastly the sign for _bringing_, as follows: The hand half
shut, with the thumb pressing against the forefinger, being first
moderately extended either to the right or left, is brought with a
moderate jerk to the opposite side, as if something was pulled along
by the hand. (_Dunbar_.)

---- Who are you? or what is your name?

The right or left hand approximates close to center of the body; the
arm is flexed and hand in position (D), or a little more closed. From
inception of sign near center of body the hand slowly describes the
arc of a quadrant, and fingers unfold as the hand recedes. We think
the proper intention is for the inception of sign to be located at the
heart, but it is seldom truly, anatomically thus located. (_Oto_ I.)
"To unfold one's self or make known."

---- Are you through?

With arms hanging at the side and forearms horizontal, place the fists
near each other in front of body: then with a quick motion separate
them as though breaking something asunder. (_Sahaptin_ I.)

---- Do you know?

Shake the right hand in front of the face, a little to the right, the
whole arm elevated so as to throw the hand even with the face, and
the forearm standing almost perpendicular. Principal motion with hand,
slight motion of forearm, palm out. (_Sahaptin_ I.)

---- How far is it?

Sign for DO YOU KNOW? followed with a precise movement throwing right
hand (palm toward face) to a position as far from body as convenient,
signifying _far_; then with the same quick, precise motion, bring the
hand to a position near the face--_near_. (_Sahaptin_ I.)

---- How will you go--horseback or in wagon?

First make the sign for DO YOU KNOW? then throw right hand
forward--_go_ or _going_; then throw fore and middle fingers of right
astride the forefinger of the left hand, signifying, _will you ride?_;
then swing the forefingers of each hand around each other, sign of
_wheel running_, signifying, _or will you go in wagon_? (_Sahaptin_

[Illustration: Fig. 302.]

---- How many?

After making the sign for _question_, touch the tips of as many of the
extended and separated fingers of the left hand held in front of
the body upright, with back outward, with the right index as may be
necessary. (_Dakota_ I.) "Count them off to me--how many?"

Place the left hand carelessly before the breast, fingers extended and
slightly separated, back to the front, then count off a few with the
extended index, by laying down the fingers of the left, beginning at
the little finger, as in Fig. 302. In asking the question, the sign
for _question_ must precede the sign for _many_, the latter being also
accompanied by a look of interrogation. (_Shoshoni and Banak_ I.)

---- Has he?

_Deaf-mute natural sign_:

Move to and fro the finger several times toward the person spoken of

---- Have you?

_Deaf-mute natural sign_:

Move the finger to and fro several times toward the person to whom the
one is speaking. (_Larson_.)

---- Are you?

_Deaf-mute natural signs_:

Point to the person spoken to and slightly nod the head, with an
inquiring look. (_Ballard_.)

Point with the forefinger, as if to point toward the second person, at
the same time nod the head as if to say "yes." (_Ziegler_.)

The following was obtained at Washington during the winter of 1880-'81
from Ta-taⁿ-ka Wa-kaⁿ (Medicine Bull), a Brulé Dakota chief; by Dr.


(1) Place the flat hands in front of and as high as the elbows, palms
down, pass each hand across to the opposite side of the body, the
right above the left crossing near the wrist at the termination of the
gesture (_night_), repeat in quick succession--_nights_, (2) elevate
the extended index and second finger of the right hand, backs to the
front--_two_, (3) place the tips of the extended and joined fingers of
the right hand against the breast--_I_, (4) after touching the breast
as in the preceding, pass the extended index from the breast, pointing
downward, forward nearly to arm's length, and terminating by holding
the hand but continuing the motion of the index until it points
forward and upward--_am going to_, (5) throw the clinched right fist
about six inches toward the earth at arm's length after the completion
of the preceding gesture--_my home_.


  Haⁿ-he'-pi | noⁿ'-pa |  mi'-ye  | ti-ya'-ta | wa-gle'-kta.
     (1)     |   (2)   |   (3)    |   (5)     |    (4)
    nights   |   two   |    I     |  my home  | am going to.

It will be noticed that the gesture No. 4, "am going to," was made
before the gesture No. 5, "my home," although the Dakota words
pronounced were in the reverse order, showing a difference in the
syntax of the gestures and of the oral speech in this instance. The
other gestures, 1, 2, and 3, had been made deliberately, the Dakota
word translating each being in obvious connection with the several
gestures, but the two final words were pronounced rapidly together as
if they could not in the mind of the gesturer be applied separately to
the reversed order of the signs for them.

       *       *       *       *       *

The same authority obtained the above sentence in Ponka and Pani,
together with the following signs for it, from individuals of those
tribes. Those signs agreed between each other, but differed from the
Dakota, as will be observed, in the signs _to my house_, as signifying
_to my home_.

(1) Touch the breast with the tips of the extended fingers--_I_. This
precedes the signs for Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 5, which correspond to Nos.
1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Dakota; then follows: (6) place the tips of the
extended fingers of the flat hands together, leaving the wrists about
six inches apart--_lodge_, (7) and conclude by placing the clinched
fists nearly at arm's length before the body, the right several inches
above the left, then throw them toward the ground--about six or eight
inches--the fists retaining their relative positions--_my, mine_.


The following is the Ponka sentence as given by the gesturer in
connection with the several gestures as made:

---- |Naⁿ'-ba|jaⁿ ʞi|a-g¢e'|ta miñ'-ke| ʇi|wi'-wi-a tĕ'-ʇa.
 (1) |  (3)  |  (2) | (4)  |     (5)      |(6)|      (7)

The following is the full sentence as spoken by Ponkas without regard
to gesture, and its literal translation:

Naⁿ'-ba| jaⁿ  |  ʞĭ  | a-g¢e' | ta'|miñ'-ke|  ʇi  |wi'-wi-ʇa| tè'-ʇa. |--
  Two  |night,|  if, |  I go  |will| I who |lodge | my own |  the,   |to.
       |sleep | when |homeward|    |       |      |        |  one,   |
                                                            standing |
                                                             object, |

The Pani gestures were given with the accompanying words, viz:

   | Pit' ku-rĕt' | ka'-ha | wi | ta-tukh'-ta | a-ka'-ru | ru-rĕt'-i-ru.
(1)|     (3)      |   (2)  | (4)|     (5)     |    (6)   |     (7)
 I |  (In) two    | nights |  I |  am going   |  house   |    to my.

The orthography in the above sentences, as in others where the
original text is given (excepting the Dakota and Ojibwa), is that
adopted by Maj. J.W. POWELL in the second edition of the _Introduction
to the Study of Indian Languages_. _Washington_, 1880. The characters
more particularly requiring explanation are the following, viz:

_¢_, as _th_ in _then_, _though_.

_ñ_, as _ng_ in _sing_, _singer_; Sp. _luengo_.

_ʞ_, an intermediate sound between _k_ and _g_ in _gig_.

_kh_, as the German _ch_, in _nacht_.

_ʇ_, an intermediate sound between _t_ and _d_.

Nasalized vowels are written with a superior _n_, thus: _aⁿ_, _eⁿ_.

The following phrases were obtained by the same authority from
Antonito, son of Antonio Azul, chief of the Pimas in Arizona.


(1) Touch the breast with the tips of the extended fingers of the
right hand--_I_, (2) place the outer edge of the flat and extended
right hand against the pit of the stomach, palm upward, then make a
sawing motion from side to side with the hand--_hunger_, (3) place the
right hand before the face, back upward, and fingers pointing toward
the mouth, then thrust the fingers rapidly to and from the mouth
several times-_eat_.


  Aⁿ-an'-t | pi'-hu-ki'um | ----
     (1)   |     (2)      |  (3)
  I (have) |    hunger    | eat.

The last sign is so intimately connected with that for hunger, that no
translation can be made.


(1) Place the tips of the index and thumb together, the remaining
fingers curved, forming a cup, then pass it from a point about six
inches before the chin, in a curve upward, backward and downward past
the mouth--_water_, (2) then place the flat right hand at the height
of the elbow in front of or slightly to the right of the body, palm
up, and in passing it slowly from left to right, give the hand a
lateral motion at the wrist--_give me_.


  Shu'-wu-to | do'-i'.
     (1)     |   (2)
    water    | give me.

The following was also obtained by Dr. W.J. HOFFMAN from Ta-taⁿ-ka
Wa-kaⁿ, before referred to, at the time of his visit to Washington.

[Illustration: Fig. 303.]


(1) Touch the breast with the extended index--_I_, (2) then pass it in
a downward curve, outward and upward toward the right nearly to arm's
length, as high as the shoulder--_am going (to)_, (3) and when at that
point suddenly clinch the hand and throw it edgewise a short distance
toward the ground--_my country, my home_.


  Ma-ko'-ce    mi-ta'-wa    kin    e-kta'    wa-gle'     kta.
           (3)                       (2)              (1)
  Country   ||  my own   || the  ||  to  || I go home || will.



The following conversation took place at Washington in April, 1880,
between TENDOY, chief of the Shoshoni and Banak Indians of Idaho, and
HUERITO, one of the Apache chiefs from New Mexico, in the presence of
Dr. W.J. HOFFMAN. Neither of these Indians spoke any language known
to the other, or had ever met or heard of one another before that

[Illustration: Fig. 304.]

_Huerito_.--WHO ARE YOU?

Place the flat and extended right hand, palm forward, about twelve
inches in front of and as high as the shoulder, then shake the hand
from side to side as it is moved forward and upward--_question, who
are you?_ Fig. 304.

[Illustration: Fig. 305.]


Place the closed right hand near the right hip leaving the index only
extended, palm down; then pass the hand toward the front and left,
rotating it from side to side--_Shoshoni_, Fig. 305; then place the
closed hand, with the index extended and pointing upward, near the
right cheek, pass it upward as high as the head, then turn it forward
and downward toward the ground, terminating with the movement a little
below the initial point--_chief_. Fig. 306.

_Huerito_.--HOW OLD ARE YOU?

Clinch both hands and cross the forearms before the breast with a
trembling motion--_cold--winter, year_, Fig. 307; then elevate the
left hand as high as the neck and about twelve or fifteen inches
before it, palm toward the face, with fingers extended and pointing
upward; then, with the index, turn down one finger after another
slowly, beginning at the little finger, until three or four are folded
against the palm, and look inquiringly at the person addressed--_how
many_? See Fig. 302.

[Illustration: Fig. 306.]

[Illustration: Fig. 307.]


Close and extend the fingers and thumbs of both hands, with the palms
forward, five times--_fifty_; then extend the fingers and thumb of the
left hand, close the right, and place the extended thumb alongside of
and near the left thumb--_six_. Fig. 308

[Illustration: Fig. 308.]

[Illustration: Fig. 309.]


Place the flat right hand, pointing to the left, with the palm down,
against the breast-bone; then move it forward and slightly to the
right and in an upward curve; make the gesture rather slow and nearly
to arm's length (otherwise, i.e., if made hastily and but a short
distance, it would only mean _good_)--_very good_, Fig. 309; place
both closed hands to their respective sides of the head, palms toward
the hair, leaving the forefingers curved--_buffalo_, see Fig. 298,
p. 477; then reach out the fist to arm's length toward the west,
and throw it forcibly toward the ground for a distance of about six
inches, edge downward--_country, away to the west_; then point
the curved index rather quickly and carelessly toward the person

[Illustration: Fig. 310.]


Pass the closed right hand, with the index partly flexed, to a
position about eight inches before the right collar-bone, and, as the
hand reaches that elevation, quickly close the index--_yes_; then make
the same sign as in the preceding question for _buffalo_; touch the
hair on the right side of the head with the palms of the extended
fingers of the right hand--_black_; spread the curved fingers and
thumbs of both hands, place them before either thigh, pointing
downward; then draw them toward one another and upward as high as the
stomach, so that the fingers will point toward one another, or may be
interlaced--_many_. Fig. 310.

[Illustration: Fig. 311.]


Close the right hand, leaving the index and thumb widely separated,
pass it by the ear from the back of the ear downward and toward the
chin, palm toward the head--_hear_, see Fig. 316, p. 492; point to the
individual addressed--_you_; close the hand again, leaving the index
and thumb separated as in the sign for _hear_ and placing the palmar
surface of the finger horizontally across the forehead, pointing to
the left, allow the thumb to rest against the right temple; then draw
the index across the forehead from left to right, leaving the thumb
touching the head--_white man_; then place the closed hand, with
elevated index, before the right side of the neck or in front of
the top of the shoulder; pass the index, pointing upward, as high
as the top of the head; turn it forward and downward as far as the
breast--_chief_; pass the extended index, pointing up ward and
forward, forward from the mouth twice--_talk_; then open and flatten
the hand, palm up, outer edge toward the face, place it about fifteen
inches in front of the chin, and draw it horizontally inward until the
hand nearly touches the neck--_tell me_.


Close the right hand, leaving the index curved; place it about six
inches from the ear and move it in toward the external meatus--_told
me, hear, I heard_, Fig. 311; with the right hand still closed, form a
circle with the index and thumb by allowing their tips to touch; pass
the hand from east to west at arm's length--_day_; place the left hand
before the breast, the fingers extended, and the thumb resting against
the palm, back forward, and, with the index, turn down one finger
after another, beginning at the little finger--_four_; touch the
breast with the tips of the finger and thumb of the left hand
collected to a point--_I_; drop the hand a short distance and move it
forward to arm's length and slightly upward until it points above
the horizon--_go to_*; then as the arm is extended, throw the fist
edgewise toward the ground--_my country_.

[Illustration: Fig. 312.]

[Illustration: Fig. 313.]


Place the flat hands horizontally, about two feet apart, move them
quickly in an upward curve toward one another until the right lies
across the left--_night_, Fig. 312, repeat this sign--_two nights_
(literally _two sleeps hence_); point toward the individual addressed
with the right hand--_you_; and in a continuous movement pass the hand
to the right, i.e., toward the south, nearly to arm's length--_go_;
then throw the fist edgewise toward the ground at that distance--_your
country_; then touch the breast with the tips of the fingers of the
left hand--_I_; move the hand off slowly toward the left, i.e., toward
the north to arm's length--_go to_*; and throw the clinched hand
toward the ground--_my country_; then hold both hands toward the left
as high as the head, palms down, with fingers and thumbs pendent and
separated; move them toward the ground two or three times--_rain_,
Fig. 313; then place the flat hands horizontally to the left of the
body about two feet from the ground--_deep_; (literally, _deep rain_)
_snow_--and raise them until about three feet from the ground--_very
deep_--_much_; place the hands before the body about twelve inches
apart, palms down, with forefingers only extended and pointing toward
one another; push them toward and from one another several times--_see
each other_, Fig. 314; then hold the flat right hand in front of the
breast, pointing forward, palm to the left, and throw it over on its
back toward the right--_not, no more_.

[Illustration: Fig. 314.]

EXPLANATORY NOTE.--Where the asterisks appear in the above dialogue
the preposition _to_ is included in the gesture. After touching the
breast for _I_, the slow movement forward signifies _going to_, and
_country_ is signified by locating it at arm's length toward the west,
to the left of the gesturer, as the stopping-place, also _possession_
by the clinched fist being directed toward the ground. It is the
same as for _my_ or _mine_, though made before the body in the
latter signs. The direction of Tendoy's hands, first to the south and
afterwards to the north, was understood not as pointing to the exact
locality of the two parts of the country, but to the difference in
their respective climates.


The following is contributed by Rev. J. OWEN DORSEY:


Raise the curved right hand, palm in, in front of the left shoulder.
Draw in toward the body a little, then from the body several times in
different directions.


Hand as above; draw in towards the body _once_, and _farther_ with
_emphasis_, according to the direction of the wind.


The following signs, forming a question and answer, were obtained by
Dr. W.J. HOFFMAN, from Ta-taⁿ-ka Wa-kaⁿ (Medicine Bull), a Brulé
Dakota chief who visited Washington during the winter of 1880-'81:


[Illustration: Fig. 315.]

(1) Extend and separate the thumb and index, leaving the remaining
fingers closed, place the ball of the thumb against the temple above
the outer corner of the eye, and the index across the forehead, the
tip resting on the left temple, then draw the index across to the
right until its tip touches the thumb--_white man_, Fig. 315; (2)
Elevate the extended index before the shoulder, palm forward, pass it
upward, as high as the head, and forming a short curve to the front,
then downward again slightly to the front to before the breast and
about fifteen inches from it--_chief_; (3) Fingers of both hands
extended and separated; then interlace them so that the tips of the
fingers of one hand protrude beyond the backs of those of the opposing
one; hold the hands in front of the breast, pointing upward, leaving
the wrists about six inches apart--_lodge_; (4) Place the left hand
a short distance before the breast, palm down and slightly arched,
fingers directed toward the right and front, then pass the flat and
extended right hand forward, under and beyond the left, forming
a downward curve, the right hand being as high as the left at the
commencement and termination of the gesture--_enter, entered_;
(5) Clasp the hands before the body, left uppermost--_shook hands,
friendly_; (6) Place the flat right hand before the chin, palm up
with fingers directed to the left, then pass the hand forward several
times--_talk, talked to him_; (7) Reverse this motion, beginning
away from the body, drawing the hand edgewise toward the chin several
times--_talked to me_; (8) Separate the extended thumb and index as
far as possible, leaving the remaining fingers closed, place the hand
about six inches opposite the right ear, palm toward the head, then
pass it in a curve forward and downward, terminating at the height of
the elbow--_hear, heard_; (9) then in a continuous movement direct the
extended index at the individual addressed, the face expressing a look
of inquiry--_you_.


 Wa-śi'-cuⁿ | i-taⁿ-caⁿ | ti-el' | ti'-ma-hel  |   unk-i'-pi
     (1)    |    (2)    |       (3)            |      (4)
  White man |   chief   |lodge in|lodge within |we were at that place

 |na  | na'-pe-uⁿ-za-pi | na  |    ki-ci      | wo-un-gla-ka-pi | kiⁿ
      |           (5)         |             (6,7)               |
 |and | hand we hold it,| and | to each other |     we talk     | the
         take hold of                                           thing

 | na-ya-ḣoⁿ-hu-o
 | you hear it?

It will be observed that the interrogation point is placed under
the last syllable, hu-o, the latter implying a question, though the
gesture was not made to accompany it, the gestures for _hear_ and
_you_, with a look of inquiry, being deemed sufficient to express the
desire on the part of the speaker.

[Illustration: Fig. 316.]


(1) Hold the naturally closed hand before the right side of the breast
or shoulder, leaving the index and thumb loosely extended, then, as
the hand is thrown downward and forward, bring the index against the
inner side of the thumb--_yes_. (2) Repeat gesture No. 8--_heard_,
Fig. 316; (3) pass the extended index forward from the right
eye--_saw_; (4) then in a continuous motion extend all the fingers so
as to place the flat hand edgewise, and pointing forward about twelve
inches before the right side of the breast, and throw it outward and
slightly downward--_no, not_.


  Ha-u  | na-wa'-ḣoⁿ |  tka  | waⁿ-mla'-ke | śni
   (1)  |    (2)     |       |     (3)     | (4)
   Yes, |  I heard   | (but) |  I saw it.  | not.


The following introductory notes are furnished by MR. IVAN PETROFF,
who contributes the Dialogue:

It has been repeatedly stated that among the natives of Alaska no
trace of gesture or sign language can be found. The universal spread
of the Russian language in former times as a medium of trade and
general intercourse has certainly prevented observations of this
primitive linguistic feature in all the vast regions visited by the
Russians. On the other hand, the homogeneous elements of the Innuit
tongue, spoken along the whole seacoast from the Arctic to the Alaskan
Peninsula, and the Island of Kadiak, has, to a great extent, abolished
all causes for the employment of sign language between tribes in their
mutual intercourse. Basing their opinions upon what they saw while
touching upon the coast here and there, even the acknowledged
authorities on Alaskan matters have declared that sign language did
not and could not exist in all that country. Without entering into
any lengthened dispute upon this question, I venture to present in the
subjoined pages a succinct account of at least one instance where I
saw natives of different tribes converse with each other only by means
of signs and gestures within the boundaries of Alaska.

In the month of September, 1866, there arrived on the Lower Kinnik
River, a stream emptying its waters into Cook's Inlet, two Indians
from a distant region, who did not speak the Kenaitze language. The
people of the settlement at which the strangers made their first
appearance were equally at a loss to understand the visitors. At last
a chief of great age, bearing the name of Chatidoolts (mentioned by
Vancouver as a youth), was found to be able to interpret some of the
signs made by the strangers, and after a little practice he entered
into a continued conversation with them in rather a roundabout way,
being himself blind. He informed me that it was the second or third
time within his recollection that strangers like those then present
had come to Kinnik from the northeast, but that in his youth he had
frequently "talked with his hands" to their visitors from the west and
east. He also told me that he had acquired this art from his father,
who, as the old man expressed himself, had "seen every country, and
spoken to all the tribes of the earth." The conversation was carried
on with the help of the old man's sons, who described to their blind
parent the gestures of the strangers, and were instructed in turn by
him with what gestures to reply.

This being an entirely new experience to me I at once proceeded to
carefully make notes of the desultory talk, extending over several
days. My object, primarily, was to make use of the signs for purposes
of trade in the future.

The notes thus obtained contain a narrative of the two strangers,
interpreted to me at the time by Chatidoolts. I shall present each
sign or sentence as I noted it at the time, with only casual reference
to that incomplete and frequently erroneous interpretation.

The two Indians wore the pointed hunting shirt of tanned moose-skin,
ornamented with beads and fringes which is still common to the Kutchin
tribes. They were not tattooed, but ears and noses were encumbered
with pendants of dentalium and a small red glass bead. Their feet were
clothed in moccasins. One of them had a rifle of English manufacture,
and his companion carried two huge knives, one of them of copper
evidently of native manufacture.

(1) _Kenaitze_.--Left hand raised to height of eye, palm outward,
moved several times from right to left rapidly; fingers extended and
closed; pointing to strangers with left hand. Right hand describes a
curve from north to east--_Which of the northeastern tribes is yours?_

(2) _Tennanah_.--Right hand, hollowed, lifted to mouth, then extended
and describing waving line gradually descending from right to left.
Left hand describing mountainous outline, apparently one peak rising
above the other, said by Chatidoolts to mean--_Tenan-tnu-kohtana,

(3) _K_.--Left hand raised to height of eye, palm outward, moved from
right to left, fingers extended. Left index describes curve from east
to west. Outline of mountain and river as in preceding sign.--_How
many days from Mountain-river?_

(4) _T_.--Right hand raised toward sky, index and thumb forming first
crescent and then ring. This repeated three times--_moon, new and full
three times_.

(5) Right hand raised, palm to front, index raised and lowered at
regular intervals--_walked_. Both hands imitating paddling of canoe,
alternately right and left--_traveled three months on foot and by

(6) Both arms crossed over breast, simulating shivering--_cold,

(7) Right index pointing toward speaker--_I_. Left hand pointing to
the west--_traveled westward_.

(8) Right hand lifted cup-shaped to mouth--_water_. Right hand
describing waving line from right to left gradually descending,
pointing to the west--_river running westward_.

(9) Right hand gradually pushed forward, palm upward, from height
of breast. Left hand shading eyes; looking at great distance--_very

(10) Left and right hands put together in shape of sloping
shelter--_lodge, camp_. See Fig. 259, on p. 431.

(11) Both hands lifted, height of eye, palm inward, fingers
spread--_many times_.

(12) Both hands closed, palm outward, height of hips--_surprised_.

(13) Index pointing from eye forward--_see_.

(14) Right hand held up, height of shoulder, three fingers extended,
left hand pointing to me--_three white men_.

(15) _K_.--Right hand pointing to me, left hand held up, three fingers
extended--_three white men_.

(16) Making Russian sign of cross--_Russians. Were the three white men

(17) _T_.--Left hand raised, palm inward, two fingers extended, sign
of cross with right--_two Russians_.

(18) Right hand extended, height of eye, palm outward, moved outward a
little to right--_no_.

(19) One finger of left hand raised--_one_.

(20) Sign of cross with right--_Russian_.

(21) Right hand height of eye, fingers closed and extended, palm
outward a little to right--_no_.

(22) Right hand carried across chest, hand extended, palm upward,
fingers and thumb closed as if holding something. Left hand in same
position carried across the right, palm downward--_trade_.

(23) Left hand upholding one finger, right pointing to me--_one white

(24) Right hand held horizontally, palm downward, about four feet from

(25) Forming rings before eyes with index and thumb--_eye-glasses_.

(26) Right hand clinched, palm upward, in front of chest, thumb
pointing inward--_gave one_.

(27) Forming cup with right hand, simulating drinking--_drink_.

(28) Right hand grasping chest repeatedly, fingers curved and

(29) Both hands pressed to temple and head moved from side to
side--_drunk, headache_.

(30) Both index fingers placed together, extended, pointing

(31) Fingers interlaced repeatedly--_build_.

(32) Left hand extended, fingers closed, pointing outward
(vertically), right hand extended, fingers closed, placed slopingly
against left--_camp_.

(33) Both wrists placed against temples, hands curved upward and
outward, fingers spread--_horns_.

(34) Both hands horizontally lifted to height of shoulder, right arm
extended gradually full length to the right, hand drooping a little at
the end--_long back, moose_.

(35) Both hands upright, palm outward, fingers extended and spread,
placing one before the other alternately--_trees, forest, dense

(36) Sign of cross--_Russian_.

(37) Motions of shooting a gun--_shot_.

(38) Sign for _moose_ (Nos. 33, 34), showing two fingers of left

(39) Sign for _camp_ as before (No. 10) _camp_.

(40) Right hand describing curve from east to west, twice--_two days_.

(41) Left hand lifted height of mouth, back outward, fingers closed as
if holding something; right hand simulating motion of tearing off and
placing in mouth--_eating moose meat_.

(42) Right hand placed horizontally against heart, fingers closed,
moved forward a little and raised a little several times--_glad at

(43) Fingers of left hand and index of right hand extended and placed
together horizontally, pointing forward, height of chest. Hands
separated, right pointing eastward and left westward--_three men and
speaker parted, going west and east_.

(44) Pressing both arms against chest and shivering--_very cold_.

(45) Drawing index of each hand around corresponding legs below the
knee--_deep snow_.

(46) Drawing imaginary line with index of right hand across each foot,
just behind the toes--_snow shoes_.

(47) Head lowered to right side into palm of hand three times--_slept
three times_.

(48) Sign for _camp_, as before (No. 10)--_camp_.

(49) Pointing to speaker--_I_.

(50) Fingers of right hand extended and joined and pointed forward
from mouth, left hand lowered horizontally to a foot from the

(51) Left hand raised height of eye, back to the left, fingers closed,
with exception of middle finger held upright; then middle finger
suddenly closed--_trap_.

(52) Both hands lifted height of eye, palm inward, fingers

(53) Right hand pointing to speaker--_I_.

(54) Sign for _trap_ (No. 51), as above--_trap_.

(55) Right hand lowered to within a few inches of the ground and moved
from left to right about two feet. Motions of both hands descriptive
of playful jumping of marten around a tree or stump--_marten_.

(56) Holding up the fingers of both hands three times until
aggregating thirty--_thirty_.

(57) Left forearm held up vertically, palm to front, fingers

(58) Motion of chopping with hatchet--_cut_.

(59) Driving invisible wedge around small circle--_peeling birch

(60) Right hand, fingers extended and joined, moved slowly from left
to right horizontally while blowing upon it with mouth--_pitching
seams of canoe_.

(61) Motions of using paddle very vigorously--_paddle up stream_.

(62) Lifting both arms above head on respective sides, hands closed as
if grasping something and lifting the body--_poling canoe_.

(63) Sign for _moon_ (No. 4), (crescent and ring) once--_one month_.

(64) Right hand vertically, height of chest, palm to left, fingers
extended, closed. Left hand horizontally, palm downward, pushed
against right--_stopped_.

(65) Right hand, index extended, drawing outline of mountains, one
above other--_high mountains_.

(66) Left hand lifted to left shoulder, back to front, fingers bent
and closed. Right hand, fingers bent and closed, placed over left and
then slowly drawn across chest to right shoulder. Motion with both
hands as if adjusting pack--_pack, knapsack_.

(67) Sign for _water_ as before (No. 8). Both hands brought forward,
palms down, arms passed outward horizontally to respective sides,
palms down--_lake_. Both hands describing circular line backward until
touching collar bone--_big and deep_.

(68) Left hand raised slightly about height of nipple, three fingers
closed; index and thumb holding tip of index of right hand. Both hands
moved across chest from left to right--_beaver_.[1]

(69) Previous sign for _many_ (No. 52) repeated several times--_very

(70) Both hands held up with fingers spread, palm forward, twice and
left hand once--height of eye--_twenty-five_.

(71) Pointing to himself--_I_.

(72) Sign for _trap_ as before (No. 51)--_trapped_.

(73) Sign for temporary _shelter_ (No. 10)--_camped_.

(74) Sign for new and full moon (No. 4), once--_one month_.

(75) Right hand passed slowly over the hair and chin. Left hand
touching a pendant of white beads--_old man_.

(76) Index of right hand held up--_one_.

(77) Both hands partially closed and placed against breast, back of
hands to front, a few inches apart--_women_.

(78) Index and middle finger of right hand held up, palm forward; eyes
directed as if counting--_two_.

(79) Sign for _trap_ as before (No. 51)--_trapping_.

(80) Left forearm vertically in front of chest, palm of hand to front,
fingers spread, elbow resting upon the back of the right hand--_tree_.

(81) Arms and hands spanning imaginary tree of some size--_big_.

(82) Sign for _tree_ as before (No. 57), left forearm suddenly brought
down across extended right hand--_fell_.

(83) Right hand laid on top of head, then passed over the hair and
chin, left hand touching white beads--_on the head of the old man_.

(84) Sign for _old man_ as before (No. 75)--_old man_.

(85) Closing both eyes with fore and middle finger of right hand;
both hands placed side by side, horizontally, palms downward, fingers
extended and united, hands separated by slow horizontal movement to
right and left--_dead_.

(86) Sign for women as before (No. 77)--women.

(87) Fingers of both hands interlaced at right angles several

(88) Sign for _lodge_ as before (No. 10)--_lodge_.[2]

(89) Right index describing circle around the head, height of eye
(cutting hair). Right hand passed over forehead and face. Left index
pointing to black scabbard (blacking faces)--_mourning_.

(90) Index and middle finger of right hand passed from eyes downward
across cheeks--_weeping_.

(91) Pointing to himself--_I_.

(92) Make the signs for _shoot_ (Nos. 33, 34), and _moose_ (No.
37)--_shot a moose_.

(93) Left hand extended horizontally, palm upward, right hand placed
across left vertically, about the middle--_divided in two_.

(94) Right hand closed, palm downward, moved forward from right breast
the length of the arm and then opened--_I gave_.

(95) Sign for _women_, (No. 77)--_to women_.

(96) Right hand, palm down, pointing to left, placed horizontally
before heart and slightly raised several times--_good and glad_.

(97) Pointing to his companion--_he_.

(98) Motion of _paddling--in canoe_.

(99) Right arm and hand extended in N.E. direction, gradually curved
back until index touches speaker--_came to me from the northeast_.

(100) Sign for _together_ as above (No. 30)--_together_.

(101) Motion of _paddling--paddled_.

(102) Pointing to ground--_to this place_.

(103) _K_. Motion of drinking water out of hand--_water_.

(104) Describing circle with right index on palm of left hand extended

(105) Left hand raised to height of eye, palm to front,
fingers leaning slightly backward. Fingers of left hand closed
alternately--_how many?_

(106) _T_. Holding up right hand back to front, showing four fingers,
eyes looking at them as if counting--_four_.

(107) Sign for packing with wooden breast-brace as above; three
fingers of right hand shown as above--_three portages_.

(108) _K_. Right hand pointing to gun of stranger--_gun_. Left hand
raised height of eye, palm to front, and moved rapidly several times
to right and left--_interrogation_.

(109) Sign for _trade_ as before (No. 22)--_trade_; i.e., _where did
you buy the gun?_

(110) _T_. Sign for _Mountain-river_ as above (No. 2). Pointing
eastward--_from the eastward_.

(111) Pointing to sun and then raising both hands, backs to front,
fingers spread--_ten days_.

(112) Pointing to me--_white man_.

(113) Left hand held up vertically, palm outward, fingers joined.
Right index placed horizontally across fingers of left hand in front,
about the middle joint--_pallisaded_.

(114) Describing square with right index on flat palm of left

(115) Pointing to his gun, powder-horn, blanket, and beads--_trading

(116) Both hands horizontal, brought forward and upward from chest and
then downward--_plenty_.

In giving this narrative I have observed the original sequence, but
there were frequent interruptions, caused by consultation between
Chatidoolts and his sons, and before the strangers departed again they
had obtained a knowledge of some words of the Kenaitze language.

[Footnote 1: Chatidoolts explained this to his sons as well as to me,
saying that the mountain men had a peculiar mode of catching beavers
with long sticks.]

[Footnote 2: They never occupy a house in which one of the other
Indians died.]



The following short dialogue forms part of the scanty tradition the
civilized Ojibwas possess regarding their ancestors' sign language:

Two Indians of different tongue meet on a journey. First Indian points
to second Indian with the outstretched forefinger of the right hand,
bringing it within a few inches of his breast; next he extends both
forearms horizontally, clinches all but the forefingers, and bends
the hands inward; then he brings them slowly and in a straight line
together, until the tips of the outstretched forefingers meet. This
gesture is accompanied with a look of inquiry--_You met somebody?_

Second Indian, facing the south, points to the east, and with the
outstretched hand forms a half-circle from east to west (corresponding
to the daily course of the sun); then he raises the arm and
points to a certain height above the southern horizon. Then the sign
for _meeting_ (as above) may be made, or omitted. After this he
bends the right hand downward, and repeatedly moves the outstretched
forefinger and middle finger in opposite directions (in imitation of
the motion of the legs in the act of walking). Finally he raises
the right hand and stretches up the forefinger (or several fingers).
_To-day, when the sun stood at such a height, I met one (or several)
persons traveling on foot_. If the travelers met were on horseback
he makes the sign for _horse_ as described by (_Dakota_ III), see
EXTRACTS FROM DICTIONARY, or the identical one for _going_ given by
(_Ojibwa_ I), which is as follows: To describe a journey on horseback
the first two fingers of the right hand are placed astride of the
forefinger of the left hand, and both represent the galloping movement
of a horse. If it is a foot journey, wave the two fingers several
times through the air.


The following, which is presented as a good descriptive model, was
obtained by Dr. W.J. HOFFMAN, of the Bureau of Ethnology, from
Natci, a Pai-Ute chief connected with the delegation of that tribe to
Washington in January, 1880, and refers to an expedition made by him
by direction of his father, Winnimukka, Head Chief of the Pai-Utes, to
the northern camp of his tribe, partly for the purpose of preventing
the hostile outbreak of the Banaks which occurred in 1878, and more
particularly to prevent those Pai-Utes from being drawn into any
difficulty with the United States by being leagued with the Banaks.


(1) Close the right hand, leaving the index extended, pointed westward
at arm's length a little above the horizon, head thrown back with the
eyes partly closed and following the direction--_Away to the west_,
(2) indicate a large circle on the ground with the forefinger of the
right hand pointing downward--_place_ (locative), (3) the tips of
the spread fingers of both hands placed against one another, pointing
upward before the body, leaving a space of four or five inches between
the wrists--_house_ (brush tent or wik'-i-up), see Fig. 257, p. 431,
(4) with the right hand closed, index extended or slightly bent, tap
the breast several times--_mine_. (5) Draw an imaginary line, with the
right index toward the ground, from some distance in front of the body
to a position nearer to it--_from there I came_, (6) indicate a spot
on the ground by quickly raising and depressing the right hand with
the index pointing downward--_to a stopping place_, (7) grasp the
forelock with the right hand, palm to the forehead, and raise it about
six inches, still holding the hair upward--_the chief of the tribe_
(Winnimukka), see Fig. 245, p. 418, (8) touch the breast with the
index--_me_, (9) the right hand held forward from the hip at the level
of the elbow, closed, palm downward, with the middle finger extended
and quickly moved up and down a short distance--_telegraphed_, (10)
head inclined toward the right, at the same time making movement
toward and from the ear with the extended index pointing toward it--_I
heard_, i.e., understood.

(11) An imaginary line indicated with the extended and inverted index
from a short distance before the body to a place on the right--_I
went_, (12) repeat gesture No. 6--_a stopping place_, (13) inclining
the head, with eyes closed, toward the right, bring the extended right
hand, palm up, to within six inches of the right ear--_where I slept_.
(14) Place the spread and extended index and thumb of the right hand,
palm downward, across the right side of the forehead--_white man_
(American), (15) elevating both hands before the breast, palms
forward, thumbs touching, the little finger of the right hand
closed--_nine_, (16) touch the breast with the right forefinger
suddenly--_and myself_, (17) lowering the hand, and pointing downward
and forward with the index still extended (the remaining fingers
and thumb being loosely closed) indicate an imaginary line along the
ground toward the extreme right--_went_, (18) extend the forefinger of
the closed left hand, and place the separated fore and second fingers
of the right astraddle the forefinger of the left, and make a series
of arched or curved movements toward the right--_rode horseback_,
(19) keeping the hands in their relative position, place them a short
distance below the right ear, the head being inclined toward that
side--_sleep_, (20) repeat the signs for _riding_ (No. 18) and
_sleeping_ (No. 19) three times--_four days and nights_, (21) make
sign No. 18, and stopping suddenly point toward the east with the
extended index-finger of the right (others being closed) and follow
the course of the sun until it reaches the zenith--_arrived at noon of
the fifth day_.

(22) Indicate a circle as in No. 2--_a camp_, (23) the hands then
placed together as in No. 3, and in this position, both moved in
short irregular upward and downward jerks from side to side--_many
wik'-i-ups_, (24) then indicate the chief of the tribe as in No.
7--meaning that _it was one of the camps of the chief of the tribe_.
(25) Make a peculiar whistling sound of "phew" and draw the extended
index of the right hand across the throat from left to right--_Banak_,
(26) draw an imaginary line with the same extended index, pointing
toward the ground, from the right to the body--_came from the north_,
(27) again make gesture No. 2--_camp_, (28) and follow it twice
by sign given as No. 18 (forward from the body, but a short
distance)--_two rode_. (29) Rub the back of the right hand with the
extended index of the left--_Indian_, i.e., the narrator's own tribe,
Pai-Ute, (30) elevate both hands side by side before the breast, palms
forward, thumbs touching, then, after a short pause, close all
the fingers and thumbs except the two outer fingers of the right
hand--_twelve_, (31) again place the hands side by side with fingers
all spread or separated, and move them in a horizontal curve toward
the right--_went out of camp_, (32) and make the sign given as No.
25--_Banak_, (33) that of No. 2--_camp_, (34) then join the hands as
in No. 31, from the right toward the front--_Pai-Utes returned_, (35)
close the right hand, leaving the index only extended, move it forward
and downward from the mouth three or four times, pointing forward,
each time ending the movement at a different point--_I talked to
them_, (36) both hands pointing upward, fingers and thumbs separated,
palms facing and about four inches apart, held in front of the body
as far as possible in that position--_the men in council_, (37) point
toward the east with the index apparently curving downward over the
horizon, then gradually elevate it to an altitude of 45°--_talked
all night and until nine o'clock next morning_, (38) bring the closed
hands, with forefingers extended, upward and forward from their
respective sides, and place them side by side, palms forward, in
front--_my brother_, Fig. 317, (39) (see also pp. 385, 386) followed
by the gesture, No. 18, directed toward the left and front--_rode_,
(40) by No. 7--_the head chief_, (41) and No. 2--_camp_.

[Illustration: Fig. 317.]

(42) Continue by placing the hands, slightly curved, palm to palm,
holding them about six inches below the right ear, the head being
inclined considerably in that direction--_one sleep (night)_, (43)
make sign No. 14--_white man_, (44) raise the left hand to the level
of the elbow forward from the left hip, fingers pointing upward, thumb
and forefinger closed--_three_, (45) and in this position draw them
toward the body and slightly to the right--_came_, (46) then make
gesture So. 42--_sleep_; (47) point with the right index to the
eastern horizon--_in the morning_, (48) make sign No. 14--_white man_,
(49) hold the left hand nearly at arm's length before the body,
back up, thumb and forefinger closed, the remaining fingers pointing
downward--_three_, (50) with the right index finger make gesture No.
35, the movement being directed towards the left hand--_talked to
them_, (51) motion along the ground with the left hand, from the body
toward the left and front, retaining the position of the fingers just
stated (in No. 49)--_they went_, (52) tap toward the ground, as in
gesture No. 6, with the left hand nearly at arm's length--_to their

(53) Make gesture No. 18 toward the front--_I rode_, (54) extend the
right hand to the left and front, and tap towards the earth several
times as in sign No. 6, having the fingers and thumb collected to
a point--_camp of the white men_. (55) Close both hands, with the
forefingers of each partly extended and crooked, and place one on
either side of the forehead, palms forward--_cattle_ (a steer), (56)
hold the left hand loosely extended, back forward, about twenty inches
before the breast, and strike the back of the partly extended right
hand into the left--_shot_, (57) make a short upward curved movement
with both hands, their position unchanged, over and downward toward
the right--_fell over, killed_, (58) then hold the left hand a short
distance before the body at the height of the elbow, palm downward,
fingers closed, with the thumb lying over the second joint of the
forefinger, extend the flattened right hand, edge down, before the
body, just by the knuckles of the left, and draw the hand towards the
body, repeating the movement--_skinned_, (59) make the sign given in
No. 25--_Banak_, (60) place both hands with spread fingers upward and
palms forward, thumb to thumb, before the right shoulder, moving them
with a tremulous motion toward the left and front--_came in_, (61)
make three short movements toward the ground in front, with the left
hand, fingers loosely curved, and pointing downward--_camp of the
three white men_, (62) then with the right hand open and flattened,
edge down, cut towards the body as well as to the right and left--_cut
up the meat_, (63) and make the pantomimic gesture of _handing it
around to the visitors_.

(64) Make sign No. 35, the movement being directed to the left hand,
as held in No. 49--_told the white men_, (65) grasping the hair on the
right side of the head with the left hand, and drawing the extended
right hand with the edge towards and across the side of the head from
behind forward--_to scalp_; (66) close the right hand, leaving the
index partly extended, and wave it several times quickly from side to
side a short distance before the face, slightly shaking the head at
the same time--_no_, Fig. 318, (67) make gesture No. 4--_me_, (68)
repeat No. 65--_scalp_, (69) and raising the forelock high with the
left hand, straighten the whole frame with a triumphant air--_make
me a great chief_. (70) Close the right hand with the index fully
extended, place the tip to the mouth and direct it firmly forward
and downward toward the ground--_stop_, (71) then placing the hands,
pointing upward, side by side, thumbs touching, and all the fingers
separated, move them from near the breast outward toward the right,
palms facing that direction at termination of movement--_the Banaks
went to one side_, (72) with the right hand closed, index curved, palm
downward, point toward the western horizon, and at arm's length dip
the finger downward--_after sunset_, (73) make the gesture given as
No. 14--_white men_, (74) pointing to the heart as in No. 4--_and I_,
(75) conclude by making gesture No. 18 from near body toward the left,
four times, at the end of each movement the hands remaining in the
same position, thrown slightly upward--_we four escaped on horseback_.

[Illustration: Fig. 318.]

The above was paraphrased orally by the narrator as follows: "Hearing
of the trouble in the north, I started eastward from my camp in
Western Nevada, when, upon arriving at Winnemucca Station, I received
telegraphic orders from the head chief to go north to induce our bands
in that region to escape the approaching difficulties with the Banaks.
I started for Camp McDermit, where I remained one night. Leaving next
morning in company with nine others, we rode on for four days and a
half. Soon after our arrival at the Pai-Ute camp, two Banaks came in,
when I sent twelve Pai-Utes to their camp to ask them all to come in
to hold council. These messengers soon returned, when I collected all
the Pai-Utes ands talked to them all night regarding the dangers of
an alliance with the Banaks and of their continuance in that locality.
Next morning I sent my brother to the chief, Winnimukka, with a report
of proceedings.

"On the following day three white men rode into camp, who had come up
to aid in persuading the Pai-Utes to move away from the border. Next
morning I consulted with them respecting future operations, after
which they went away a short distance to their camp. I then followed
them, where I shot and killed a steer, and while skinning it the
Banaks came in, when the meat was distributed. The Banaks being
disposed to become violent at any moment, the white men became
alarmed, when I told them that rather than allow them to be scalped I
would be scalped myself in defending them, for which action I would
be considered as great a chief as Winnemukka by my people. When I told
the Banaks to cease threatening the white men they all moved to one
side a short distance to hold a war council, and after the sun went
down the white men and I mounted our horses and fled toward the south,
whence we came."

Some of the above signs seem to require explanation. Natci was facing
the west during the whole of this narration, and by the right he
signified the north; this will explain the significance of his gesture
to the right in Nos. 11 and 17, and to the left in No. 75.

No. 2 (repeated in Nos. 22,27,33, and 41) designates an Indian brush
lodge, and although Natci has not occupied one for some years, the
gesture illustrates the original conception in the round form of the
foundation of poles, branches, and brush, the interlacing of which in
the construction of the _wik'-i-up_ has survived in gestures Nos. 3
and 23 (the latter referring to more than one, i.e., an encampment).

The sign for Banak, No. 25 (also 32 and 59), has its origin from the
tradition among the Pai-Utes that the Banaks were in the habit of
cutting the throats of their victims. This sign is made with the index
instead of the similar gesture with the flat hand, which among several
tribes denotes the Sioux, but the Pai-Utes examined had no specific
sign for that body of Indians, not having been in sufficient contact
with them.

"A stopping place," referred to in Nos. 6, 12, 52, and 54,
represents the temporary station, or camp of white men, and is
contradistinguished from a village, or perhaps from any permanent
encampment of a number of persons, by merely dotting toward the ground
instead of indicating a circle.

It will also be seen that in several instances, after indicating the
nationality, the fingers previously used in representing the number
were repeated without its previously accompanying specific gesture,
as in No. 61, where the three fingers of the left hand represented the
men (white), and the three movements toward the ground signified the
camp or tents of the three (white) men.

This also occurs in the gesture (Nos. 59, 60, and 71) employed for
the Banaks, which, having been once specified, is used subsequently
without its specific preceding sign for the tribe represented.

The rapid connection of the signs Nos. 57 and 58 and of Nos. 74 and
75 indicates the conjunction, so that they are severally readily
understood as "shot _and_ killed," and "the white men _and_ I." The
same remark applies to Nos. 15 and 16, "the nine _and_ I."


This narrative was obtained in July, 1880, by Dr. FRANCIS H. ATKINS,
acting assistant surgeon, United States Army, at South Fork, New
Mexico, from TI-PE-BES-TLEL (Sheepskin-leggings), habitually called
Patricio, an intelligent young Mescalero Apache. It gives an account
of what is locally termed the "April Round-up," which was the
disarming and imprisoning by a cavalry command of the United States
Army, of the small Apache subtribe to which the narrator belonged.

(1) Left hand on edge, curved, palm, forward, extended backward length
of arm toward the West (_far westward_).

(2) Arm same, turned hand, tips down, and moved it from north to south

(3) Dipped same hand several times above and beyond last line

(4) Hand curved (Y, more flexed) and laid on its back on top of his
foot (_moccasins much curved up at toe_); then drew hands up legs
to near knee, and cut off with edges of hands (_boot tops_), (_Warm
Spring Apaches_, who wear booted moccasins with turn-up toes.)

(5) Hands held before him, tips near together, fingers gathered (U);
then alternately opened and gathered fingers of both hands (P to U,
U to P), and thrusting them toward each other a few times (_shot or
killed many_).

(6) Held hands six inches from side of head, thumbs and forefingers
widely separated (_Mexican_, i.e., wears a broad hat).

(7) Held right hand on edge, palm toward him, threw it on its back
forward and downward sharply toward earth (T on edge to X), (_dead, so
many dead_).

(8) Put thumbs to temples and indexes forward, meeting in front, other
fingers closed (_soldiers_, i.e., cap-visor).

(9) Repeated No. 5 and No. 7 (_were also shot dead_).

(10) Placed first and second fingers of right hand, others closed,
astride of left index, held horizontally (_horses_).

(11) Held hands on edge and forward (T on edge forward), pushed them
forward, waving vertically (_marching_, i.e., _ran off with soldiers'
horses or others_). N.B.--Using both hands indicates double ranks of
troops marching also.

(12) Struck right fist across in front of chin from right to left
sharply (_bad_).

(13) Repeated No. 4 (_Warm Spring Apache_).

(14) Moved fist, thumb to head, from center of forehead to right
temple and a little backward (_fool_).

(15) Repeated No. 8 and No. 11 (_soldiers riding in double column_).

(16) Thrust right hand down over and beyond left, both palms down (W)
(_came here_).

(17) Repeated No. 8 (_soldier_).

(18) Touched hair (_hair_).

(19) Touched tent (_quite white_).

(20) Touched top of shoulder (_commissioned officer_, i.e.,

(21) Thrust both hands up high (_high rank_).

(22) Right forefinger to forehead; waved it about in front of face and
rolled head about (primarily _fool_, but qualified in this case by the
interpreter as _no sabe much_).

(23) Drew hands up his thighs and body and pointed to himself
(_Mescalero Indian_).

(24) Approximated hands before him, palms down, with thumbs and
indexes widely separated, as if inclosing a circle (_captured_, i.e.,
_corralled, surrounded_).

(25) Placed tips of hands together, wrists apart, held them erect (T,
both hands inclined), (_house_; in this case _the agency_).

(26) Threw both hands, palms back, forward and downward, moving from
knuckles (metacarpo-phalangeal joint) only, several times (_issuing

(27) Thrust two fingers (N) toward mouth and downward (_food_).

(28) Repeated No. 25 (_house_); outlined a hemispherical object
(wik-i-up); repeated these several times, bringing the hands with
emphasis several times down toward the earth (_village permanently

(29) Repeated No. 25 several times and pointed to a neighboring
hillside (_village over there_).

(30) Repeated Nos. 17 to 21, inclusive (_General X_).

(31) Thrust two fingers forward from his eyes (primarily _I see_; also
_I saw_, or _there were_).

(32) Repeated No. 11 (_toward said hillside_), (_troops went over
there with General X_).

(33) Repeated No. 4, adding, swept indexes around head and touched red
paper on a tobacco wrapper (_San Carlos Apaches_, scouts especially
distinguished by wearing a red fillet about the head); also added,
drew indexes across each cheek from nose outward (_were much

(34) Repeated No. 24 and No. 23 (_to capture the Mescalero Indians_).

(35) Repeated No. 31 (_there were_).

(36) Repeated No. 33 (_San Carlos scouts_).

(37) Repeated No. 8 (_and soldiers_).

(38) Clasped his hands effusively before his breast (_so many!_ i.e.,
_a great many_).

(39) Repeated No. 31 (_I saw_).

(40) Repeated No. 23 (_my people_).

(41) Brought fists together under chin, and hugged his arms close to
his breast, with a shrinking motion of body (_afraid_).

(42) Struck off half of left index with right index (_half_, or _a

(43) Waved off laterally and upward with both hands briskly (_fled_).

(44) Projected circled right thumb and index to eastern horizon,
thence to zenith (_next morning_, i.e., sunrise to noon).

(45) Repeated No. 23 (_the Mescaleros_).

(46) Held hands in position of aiming a gun--left oblique--(_shoot_).

(47) Waved right index briskly before right shoulder (_no, did not;

(48) Swept his hand from behind forward, palm up (Y) (_the others

(49) Repeated No. 5 (_and shot_).

(50) Repeated No. 23 (_the Mescaleros_).

(51) Repeated No. 7 (_many dead_).

(52) Repeated No. 8 (_soldiers_).

(53) Repeated No. 10 (_horse, mounted_).

(54) Hand forward, palm down (W) moved forward and up and down
(_walking_, i.e., _infantry_).

(55) Beckoned with right hand, two fingers curved (N horizontal and
curved) (_came_).

(56) Repeated No. 11 (_marching_).

(57) Repeated No. 28 (_to this camp, or village_).

(58) Repeated No. 23 (_with Mescaleros_).

(59) Repeated No. 24 (_as prisoners, surrounded_).

(60) Repeated No. 33 (_San Carlos scouts_).

(61) Placed hands, spread out (R inverted), tips down, about waist
(_many cartridges_).

(62) Repeated No. 46 (_and guns_).

(63) Repeated No. 5 (_shot many_).

(64) Repeated No. 4 (_Warm Spring Apaches_).

(65) Repeated No. 23 (_and Mescaleros_).

(66) Moved fist--thumb to head--across his forehead from right to
left, and cast it toward earth over left shoulder (_brave_, i.e., _the
San Carlos scouts are brave_).


Far westward beyond the Rio Grande are the Warm Spring Apaches, who
killed many Mexicans and soldiers and stole their horses. They (the
Warm Spring Apaches) are bad and fools.

Some cavalry came here under an aged officer of high rank, but of
inferior intelligence, to capture the Mescalero Indians.

The Mescaleros wished to have their village permanently here by the
agency, and to receive their rations, i.e., were peacefully inclined.

Our village was over there. I saw the general come with troops and San
Carlos scouts to surround (or capture) the Mescalero Indians. There
were a great many San Carlos scouts and soldiers.

I saw that my people were afraid, and half of them fled.

Next morning the Mescaleros did not shoot (were not hostile). The
others came and killed many Mescaleros. The cavalry and infantry
brought us (the Mescaleros) to this camp as prisoners.

The San Carlos scouts were well supplied with ammunition and guns, and
shot many Warm Spring Indians and Mescaleros.

The San Carlos scouts are brave men.


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."

(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_.

[Illustration: Fig. 319--Scene of Na-wa-gi-jig's story.]

(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

(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

(11) Carrying the finger toward the body, he touched his breast--_I

(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

(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

(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

(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

(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.,

(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

(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

(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

(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

(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

(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

(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

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

(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.,

(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

(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

(94) Thrust forward three fingers of the right--_three_, i.e.,

(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

(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

(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

(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

(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_

  (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'!_

  (28) _mi'gwam_
       the ice

  (29) _ma'dja_

  (30)(31) Gestures only.

  (32) _we'wib_

  (33)(34) Gestures only.

  (35) _wagak'wadŏⁿs_

  (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_

  (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'wadŏⁿs_
              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_

  (82) Gesture only.

  (83) _a'gimag_

  (84) _ma'djishka_
       it is moving

  (85)-(87) Gestures only.

  (88) _aga'wa ma'djishkca_
       scarcely it moves (very little)

  (89) _no'din_

  (90) Gesture only.

  (91) _Sa'badis_
       John Baptist

  (92) _migiss'kaneyab_

  (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_

  (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

  (128) (129) _e-eh! was'sa ja'igwa'_
               oh!    far   already
               the ice!

  (130) _ja'igwa_

  (131) _ke'abi_

  (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.



[Illustration: Fig. 320.]

The following is the farewell address of KIN CHĒ-ĔSS
(Spectacles), medicine-man of the Wichitas, to Rev. A.J. HOLT,
missionary, on his departure from the Wichita Agency, in the words of
the latter:

[Illustration: Fig. 321.]

He placed one hand on my breast, the other on his own, then clasped
his two hands together after the manner of our congratulations--_We
are friends_, Fig. 320. He placed one hand on me, the other on
himself, then placed the first two fingers of his right hand between
his lips--_We are brothers_. He placed his right hand over my heart,
his left hand over his own heart, then linked the first fingers of his
right and left hands--_Our hearts are linked together_. See Fig.
232, p. 386. He laid his right hand on me lightly, then put it to his
mouth, with the knuckles lightly against his lips, and made the motion
of flipping water from the right-hand forefinger, each flip casting
the hand and arm from the mouth a foot or so, then bringing it back
in the same position. (This repeated three or more times, signifying
_talk_ or _talking_.) Fig. 321. He then made a motion with his right
hand as if he were fanning his right ear; this repeated. He then
extended his right hand with his index finger pointing upward, his
eyes also being turned upward--_You told me of the Great Father_.
Pointing to himself, he hugged both hands to his bosom, as if he were
affectionately clasping something he loved, and then pointed upward in
the way before described--_I love him_ (the Great Father). Laying his
right hand on me, he clasped his hands to his bosom as before--_I love
you_. Placing his right hand on my shoulder, he threw it over his own
right shoulder as if he were casting behind him a little chip, only
when his hand was over his shoulder his index finger was pointing
behind him--_You go away_. Pointing to his breast, he clinched the
same hand as if it held a stick, and made a motion as if he were
trying to strike something on the ground with the bottom of the stick
held in an upright position--_I stay, or I stay right here_, Fig. 322.

[Illustration: Fig. 322.]

Placing his right hand on me, he placed both his hands on his breast
and breathed deeply two or three times, then using the index finger
and thumb of each hand as if he were holding a small pin, he placed
the two hands in this position as if he were holding a thread in each
hand and between the thumb and forefinger of each hand close together,
and then let his hands recede from each other, still holding his
fingers in the same position, as if he were letting a thread slip
between them until his hands were two feet apart--_You live long
time_, Fig. 323. Laying his right hand on his breast, then extending
his forefinger of the same hand, holding it from him at half-arm's
length, the finger pointing nearly upward, then moving his hand, with
the finger thus extended, from side to side about as rapidly as a man
steps in walking, each time letting his hand get farther from him
for three or four times, then suddenly placing his left hand in a
horizontal position with the fingers extended and together so that
the palm was sidewise, he used the right-hand palm, extended, fingers
together, as a hatchet, and brought it down smartly, just missing the
ends of the fingers of the left hand, Fig. 324. Then placing his left
hand, with the thumb and forefinger closed, to his heart, he brought
his right hand, fingers in the same position, to his left; then, as if
he were holding something between his thumb and forefinger, he moved
his right hand away as if he were slowly casting a hair from him,
his left hand remaining at his breast, and his eyes following his
right--_I go about a little while longer, but will be cut off shortly
and my spirit will go away_ (or will die). Placing the thumbs and
forefingers again in such a position as if he held a small thread
between the thumb and forefinger of each hand, and the hands touching
each other, he drew his hands slowly from each other, as if he were
stretching a piece of gum-elastic; then laying his right hand on me,
he extended the left hand in a horizontal position, fingers extended
and closed, and brought down his right hand with fingers extended and
together, so as to just miss the tips of the fingers of his left hand;
then placing his left forefinger and thumb against his heart, he acted
as if he took a hair from the forefinger and thumb of his left hand
with the forefinger and thumb of the right, and slowly cast it from
him, only letting his left hand remain at his breast, and let the
index finger of the right hand point outward toward the distant
horizon--_After a long time you die_. When placing his left hand upon
himself and his right hand upon me, he extended them upward over
his head and clasped them there--_We then meet in heaven_. Pointing
upward, then to himself, then to me, he closed the third and little
finger of his right hand, laying his thumb over them, then extending
his first and second fingers about as far apart as the eyes, he
brought his hand to his eyes, fingers pointing outward, and shot his
hand outward--_I see you up there_. Pointing to me, then giving the
last above-described sign of _look_, then pointing to himself, he
made the sign as if stretching out a piece of gum-elastic between
the fingers of his left and right hands, and then made the sign of
_cut-off_ before described, and then extended the palm of the right
hand horizontally a foot from his waist, inside downward, then
suddenly threw it half over and from him, as if you were to toss a
chip from the back of the hand (this is the negative sign everywhere
used among these Indians)--_I would see him a long time, which should
never be cut off_, i.e., _always._

[Illustration: Fig. 323.]

[Illustration: Fig. 324.]

Pointing upward, then rubbing the back of his left hand lightly with
the forefinger of his right, he again gave the negative sign.--_No
Indian there_ (in heaven). Pointing upward, then rubbing his
forefinger over the back of my hand, he again made the negative
sign--_No white man there_. He made the same sign again, only he felt
his hair with the forefinger and thumb of his right hand, rolling the
hair several times between the fingers--_No black man in heaven_. Then
rubbing the back of his hand and making the negative sign, rubbing the
back of my hand and making the negative sign, feeling of one of his
hairs with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand, and making the
negative sign, then using both hands as if he were reaching around a
hogshead, he brought the forefinger of his right hand to the front
in an upright position after their manner of counting, and said
thereby--_No Indian, no white man, no black man, all one_. Making the
"hogshead" sign, and that for _look_, he placed the forefinger of
each hand side by side pointing upward--_All look the same_, or alike.
Running his hands over his wild Indian costume and over my clothes, he
made the "hogshead" sign, and that for _same_, and said thereby--_All
dress alike there_. Then making the "hogshead" sign, and that for
_love_, (hugging his hands), he extended both hands outward, palms
turned downward, and made a sign exactly similar to the way ladies
smooth a bed in making it; this is the sign for _happy--All will be
happy alike there_. He then made the sign for _talk_ and for _Father_,
pointing to himself and to me--_You pray for me_. He then made the
sign for _go away_, pointing to me, he threw right hand over his
right shoulder so his index finger pointed behind him--_You go
away_. Calling his name he made the sign for _look_ and the sign of
_negation_ after pointing to me--_Kin Chē-ĕss see you no more_.

[Illustration: Fig. 325.]

Fig. 322, an illustration in the preceding address, also represents a
common gesture for _sit down_, if made to the right of the hip, toward
the locality to be occupied by the individual invited. The latter
closely corresponds to an Australian gesture described by Smyth (_The
Aborigines of Victoria, London_, 1878, Vol. II, p. 308, Fig. 260),
as follows: "_Minnie-minnie_ (wait a little). It is shaken downwards
rapidly two or three times. Done more slowly towards the ground, it
means 'Sitdown.'" This is reproduced in Fig. 325.


The following statement was made to Dr. W.J. HOFFMAN by TSO-DI-A'-KO
(Shaved-head Boy), chief of the Wichitas in Indian Territory, while on
a visit to Washington, D.C., in June 1880.

The Indian being asked whether there was any timber in his part of the
Territory, replied in signs as follows:

[Illustration: Fig. 326.]

(1) Move the right hand, fingers loosely extended, separated and
pointing upward, back to the front, upward from the height of the
waist to the front of the face--_tree_ (for illustration see Fig. 112,
p. 343); repeat this two or three times--_trees_; (2) then hold the
hand, fingers extended and joined, pointing upward, with the back to
the front, and push it forward toward different points on a level with
the face-_standing at various places_; (3) both hands, with spread
and slightly curved fingers, are held about two feet apart, before the
thighs, palms facing, then draw them toward one another horizontally
and gradually upward until the wrists cross, as if grasping a bunch of
grass and pulling it up--_many_; (4) point to the southwest with the
index, elevating it a little above the horizon--_country_; (5) then
throw the fist edgewise toward the surface, in that direction--_my,
mine_; (6) place both hands, extended, flat, edgewise before the body,
the left below the right, and both edges pointing toward the ground a
short distance to the left of the body, then make repeated cuts toward
that direction from different points, the termination of each cut
ending at nearly the same point--_cut down_, Fig. 326; (7) hold the
left hand with the fingers and thumb collected to a point, directed
horizontally forward, and make several cutting motions with the edge
of the flat right hand transversely by the tips of the left, and upon
the wrist--_cut off the ends_; (8) then cut upon the left hand, still
held in the same position, with the right, the cuts being parallel to
the longitudinal axis of the palm--_split_; (9) both hands closed
in front of the body, about four inches apart, with forefingers and
thumbs approximating half circles, palms toward the ground, move
them forward so that the back of the hand comes forward and the half
circles imitate the movement of wheels--_wagon_, Fig. 327; (10) hold
the left flat hand before the body, pointing horizontally forward,
with the palm down, then bring the right flat hand from the right side
and slap the palm upon the back of the left several times--_load_,
upon, Fig. 328; (11) partly close the right hand as if grasping a
thick rod, palm toward the ground, and push it straight forward nearly
to arm's length--_take_; (12) hold both hands with fingers naturally
extended and slightly separated nearly at arm's length before the
body, palms down, the right lying upon the left, then pass the upper
forward and downward from the left quickly, so that the wrist of the
right is raised and the fingers point earthward--_throw off_; (13)
cut the left palm repeatedly with the outer edge of the extended right
hand--_build_; (14) hold both hands edgewise before the body, palms
facing, spread the fingers and place those of one hand into the spaces
between those of the left, so that the tips of one protrude beyond the
backs of the fingers of the other--_log house_, see Fig. 253, p. 428;
(15) then place the flat right hand, palm down and fingers pointing to
the left, against the breast and move it forward, and slightly upward
and to the right--_good_.

[Illustration: Fig. 327.]

[Illustration: Fig. 328.]


[There is] much | timber | [in] | my | country | [of which I] cut down [some],|
            (3)    (1,2)          (5)    (4)                    (6)

 trimmed, | split, | loaded it upon | a wagon [and] | took it away, |
   (7)       (8)           (10)          (9)             (11)

 [where I] threw [it] off | [and] built | [a] good | house |.
              (12)             (13)          (15)    (14)

NOTES.--As will be seen, the word _timber_ is composed of signs No.
1 and 2, signifying trees standing. Sign No. 3, for _many_, in this
instance, as in similar other examples, becomes _much_. The word "in,"
in connection with _country_ and _my_, is expressed by the gesture
of pointing (passing the hand less quickly than in ordinary sign
language) before making sign No. 5. That sign commonly given for
_possession_, would, without the prefix of indication, imply _my
country_, and with that prefix signifies _in my country_. Sign No.
7, _trimmed_, is indicated by chopping off the ends, and facial
expression denoting _satisfaction_. In sign Nos. 11 and 12 the
gestures were continuous, but at the termination of the latter the
narrator straightened himself somewhat, denoting that he had overcome
the greater part of the labor. Sign No. 14 denotes _log-house_, from
the manner of interlacing the finger-ends, thus representing the
corner of a log-house, and the arrangement of the ends of the same.
_Indian lodge_ would be indicated by another sign, although the latter
is often used as an abbreviation for the former, when the subject of
conversation is known to all present.


The following remarks were obtained by Dr. W.J. HOFFMAN from
TCE-CAQ-A-DAQ-A-QIC (Lean Wolf), chief of the Hidatsa Indians of
Dakota Territory, who visited Washington in 1880:


(1) Place the closed hand, with the thumb resting over the middle of
the index, on the left side of the forehead, palmar side down, then
draw the thumb across the forehead to the right, a short distance
beyond the head--_white man_, American, Fig. 329.

[Illustration: Fig. 329.]

[Illustration: Fig. 330.]

(2) Place the naturally extended hand, fingers and thumb slightly
separated and pointing to the left, about fifteen inches before the
right side of the body, bringing it to within a short distance--_with
us_, Fig. 330.

(3) Extend the flat right hand to the front and right as if about to
grasp the hand of another individual--_friend, friends_, Fig. 331.
For remarks connected with this sign see pp. 384-386.

[Illustration: Fig. 331.]

(4) Place the flat right hand, with fingers only extended, back to
the front, about eighteen inches before the right shoulder--_four_
[years], Fig. 332.

[Illustration: Fig. 332.]

(5) Close the right hand, leaving the index and second fingers
extended and slightly separated, place it, back forward, about eight
inches before the right side of the body, and pass it quickly to the
left in a slightly downward curve--_lie_, Fig. 333.

[Illustration: Fig. 333.]

(6) Place the clinched fists together before the breast, palms down,
then separate them in a curve outward and downward to their respective
sides--_done, finished, "that is all"_, Fig. 334.

[Illustration: Fig. 334.]


The collaborators in the work above explained have not generally
responded to the request to communicate material under this head. It
is, however, hoped that by now printing some extracts from published
works and the few contributions recently procured, the attention of
observers will be directed to the prosecution of research in this

The term "signal" is here used in distinction from the signs noted
in the DICTIONARY, extracts from which are given above, as being some
action or manifestation intended to be seen at a distance, and not
allowing of the minuteness or detail possible in close converse.
Signals may be executed, first, exclusively by bodily action; second,
by action of the person in connection with objects, such as a blanket,
or a lance, or the direction imparted to a horse; third, by various
devices, such as smoke, fire or dust, when the person of the signalist
is not visible. When not simply intended to attract attention they are
generally conventional, and while their study has not the same kind
of importance as that of gesture signs, it possesses some peculiar


Some of these are identical, or nearly so, with the gesture signs used
by the same people.



Close the hand, place it against the forehead, and turn it back and
forth while in that position. (Col. R.B. Marcy, U.S.A., _Thirty Years
of Army Life on the Border_, _New York_, 1866, p. 34.)


The right hand is to be advanced about eighteen inches at the height
of the navel, horizontal, relaxed, palm downward, thumb in the palm;
then draw it near the side and at the same time drop the hand to bring
the palm backward. The farther away the person called is, the higher
the hand is raised. If very far off, the hand is raised high up over
the head and then swung forward, downward, and backward to the side.
(_Dakota_ I, IV.)


_There is something dangerous in that place._--Right-hand index-finger
and thumb forming a curve, the other fingers closed; move the right
hand forward, pointing in the direction of the dangerous place or
animal. (_Omaha_ I.)


Right-hand index and middle fingers open; motion to ward the enemy
signifies "I do not fear you." Reverse the motion, bringing the hand
toward the subject, means "Do your worst to me." (_Omaha_ I.)


_Pass around that object or place near you_--she-í-he ti-dhá-ga.--When
a man is at a distance, I say to him "Go around that way." Describe
a curve by raising the hand above the head, forefinger open, move to
right or left according to direction intended and hand that is used,
i.e., move to the left, use right hand; move to the right, use left
hand. (_Omaha_ I; _Ponka_ I.)


---- To inquire disposition.

Raise the right hand with the palm in front and gradually push it
forward and back several times; if they are not hostile it will at
once be obeyed. (Randolph B. Marcy, _The Prairie Traveler_. _New
York_, 1859, p. 214.)

---- Stand there! He is coming to you.

Right hand extended, flat, edgewise, moved downward several times.
(_Omaha_ I.)

---- Stand there! He is going toward you.

Hold the open right hand, palm to the left, with the tips of the
fingers toward the person signaled to; thrust the hand forward in
either an upward or downward curve. (_Omaha_ I; _Ponka_ I.)

---- Lie down flat where you are--she-dhu bis-pé zhaⁿ'-ga.

Extend the right arm in the direction of the person signaled to,
having the palm down; move downward by degrees to about the knees.
(_Omaha_ I; _Ponka_ I.)


Hold up palm of hand.--Observed as made by an Indian of the Kansas
tribe in 1833. (John T. Irving, _Indian Sketches_. _Philadelphia_,
1835, vol. ii, p. 253.)

Elevate the extended hands at arm's length above and on either side of
the head. Observed by Dr. W.J. Hoffman, as made in Northern Arizona
in 1871 by the Apaches, Mojaves, Hualpais, and Seviches. "No
arms"--corresponding with "hands up" of road-agents. Fig. 335.

[Illustration: Fig. 335.--A signal of peace.]

[Illustration: Fig. 336.--Signal, "Who are you?" Answer, "Pani."]

The right hand held aloft, empty. (General G.A. Custer, _My Life on
the Plains_, _New York_, 1874, p. 238.) This may be collated with the
lines in Walt Whitman's _Salut au Monde_--

  Toward all
  I raise high the perpendicular hand,--I make the signal.

The Natchez in 1682 made signals of friendship to La Salle's party
by the joining of the two hands of the signalist, much embarrassing
Tonty, La Salle's lieutenant, in command of the advance in the descent
of the Mississippi, who could not return the signal, having but
one hand. His men responded in his stead. (Margry, _Decouvertes et
Établissments des Français dans l'ouest et dans le sud de l'Amérique
Septentrionale, &c._)


---- I do not know you. Who are you?

After halting a party coming: Right hand raised, palm in front
and slowly moved to the right and left. [Answered by tribal sign.]
(Marcy's _Prairie Traveler_, _loc. cit._, 214.) Fig. 336. In this
illustration the answer is made by giving the tribal sign for Pani.

---- To inquire if coming party is peaceful.

Raise both hands, grasped in the manner of shaking hands, or by
locking the two forefingers firmly while the hands are held up. If
friendly they will respond with the same signal. (Marcy's _Prairie
Traveler_, _loc. cit._, 214.)


The United States steamer Saranac in 1874, cruising in Alaskan waters,
dropped anchor in July, 1874, in Freshwater Harbor, back of Sitka,
in latitude 59° north. An armed party landed at a T'linkit village,
deserted by all the inhabitants except one old man and two women, the
latter seated at the feet of the former. The man was in great fear,
turned his back and held up his hands as a sign of utter helplessness.
(Extract from notes kindly furnished by Lieutenant-Commander WM.
BAINBRIDGE HOFF, U.S.N., who was senior aid to Rear-Admiral Pennock,
on the cruise mentioned.)


The palm of the hand is held toward the person [to whom the surrender
is made]. (_Long_.)

Hold the palm of the hand toward the person as high above the head as
the arm can be raised. (_Dakota_ I.)



When the Ponkas or Omahas discover buffalo the watcher stands erect on
the hill, with his face toward the camp, holding his blanket with an
end in each hand, his arms being stretched out (right and left) on a
line with, shoulders. (_Dakota_ VIII; _Omaha_ I; _Ponka_ I.) See Fig.

Same as (_Omaha_ I), and (_Ponka_ I); with the addition that after the
blanket is held out at arm's length the arms are crossed in front of
the body. (_Dakota_ I.)


When it is intended to encamp, a blanket is elevated upon a pole so
as to be visible to all the individuals of a moving party. (_Dakota_


Hold out the lower edge of the robe or blanket, then wave it in to
the legs. This is made when there is a desire to avoid general
observation. (_Matthews_.)


Gather or grasp the left side of the unbuttoned coat (or blanket) with
the right hand, and, either standing or sitting in position so that
the signal can be seen, wave it to the left and right as often as may
be necessary for the sign to be recognized. When made standing the
person should not move his body. (_Dakota_ I.)


---- Horseman at a distance, galloping, passing and repassing, and
crossing each other--_enemy comes_. But for notice of herd of buffalo,
they gallop back and forward abreast--do not cross each other. (H.M.
Brackenridge's _Views of Louisiana_. _Pittsburgh_, 1814, p. 250.)

---- Riding rapidly round in a circle, "Danger! Get together as
quickly as possible." (Richard Irving Dodge, lieutenant-colonel United
States Army, _The Plains of the Great West_. _New York_, 1877, p.

---- Point the right index in the direction of the danger, and then
throw the arm over the front of the body diagonally, so that the
hand rests near the left shoulder, back outward. If the person to be
notified of the danger should be in the rear precede the above signal
with that for "_Attention_." This signal can also be made with a
blanket, properly grasped so as to form a long narrow roll. Perhaps
this signal would more properly belong under "_Caution_," as it would
be used to denote the presence of a dangerous beast or snake, and not
that of a human enemy. (_Dakota_ I.)

[Illustration: Fig. 337.--Signal for "buffalo discovered."]

[Illustration: Fig. 338.--Signal of discovery or alarm.]

---- Passing and repassing one another, either on foot or mounted,
is used as a war-signal; which is expressed in the
Hidatsa--makimakă'da--halidié. (_Mandan and Hidatsa_ I.)


---- Pass around that place.

Point the folded blanket in the direction of the object or place to be
avoided, then draw it near the body, and wave it rapidly several times
in front of the body only, and then throwing it out toward the side
on which you wish the person to approach you, and repeat a sufficient
number of times for the signal to be understood. (_Dakota_ I.)


The discovery of enemies, game, or anything else, is announced by
riding rapidly to and fro, or in a circle. The idea that there is
a difference in the signification of these two directions of riding
appears, according to many of the Dakota Indians of the Missouri
Valley, to be erroneous. Parties away from their regular encampment
are generally in search of some special object, such as game, or
of another party, either friendly or hostile, which is, generally
understood, and when that object is found, the announcement is made
to their companions in either of the above ways. The reason that a
horseman may ride from side to side is, that the party to whom he
desires to communicate may be at a particular locality, and his
movement--at right angles to the direction to the party--would be
perfectly clear. Should the party be separated into smaller bands, or
have flankers or scouts at various points, the only way in which the
rider's signal could be recognized as a motion from side to side, by
all the persons to whom the signal was directed, would be for him to
ride in a circle, which he naturally does. (_Dakota_ VI, VII, VIII.)
Fig. 338.

The latter was noticed by Dr. Hoffman in 1873, on the Yellowstone
River, while attached to the Stanley Expedition. The Indians had again
concentrated after their first repulse by General Custer, and taken
possession of the woods and bluffs on the opposite side of the river.
As the column came up, one Indian was seen upon a high bluff to ride
rapidly round in a circle, occasionally firing off his revolver. The
signal announced the discovery of the advancing force, which had been
expected, and he could be distinctly seen from the surrounding region.
As many of the enemy were still scattered over the neighborhood,
some of them would not have been able to recognize this signal had
he ridden to and from an observer, but the circle produced a lateral
movement visible from any point.

---- Of enemies, or other game than Buffalo. See also NOTES ON

The discovery of enemies is indicated by riding rapidly around in a
circle, so that the signal could be seen by their friends, but out of
sight of the discovered enemy. (_Dakota_ I.)

When enemies are discovered, or other game than buffalo, the sentinel
waves his blanket over his head up and down, holding an end in each
hand. (_Omaha_ I; _Ponka_ I.)

---- Of game, wood, water, &c.

This is communicated by riding rapidly forward and backward on the top
of the highest hill. The same would be communicated with a blanket
by waving it right and left, and then directly toward the game or
whatever the party might be searching for, indicating that it is not
to the right or to the left, but directly in front. (_Dakota_ I.)


"It is done by signals, devised after a system of the Indian's own
invention, and communicated in various ways.

"Wonderful as the statement may appear, the signaling on a bright
day, when the sun is in the proper direction, is done with a piece of
looking-glass held in the hollow of the hand. The reflection of the
sun's rays thrown on the ranks communicates in some mysterious way the
wishes of the chief. Once standing on a little knoll overlooking the
valley of the South Platte, I witnessed almost at my feet a drill of
about one hundred warriors by a Sioux chief, who sat on his horse on a
knoll opposite me, and about two hundred yards from his command in the
plain below. For more than half an hour he commanded a drill, which
for variety and promptness of action could not be equaled by any
civilized cavalry of the world. All I could see was an occasional
movement of the right arm. He himself afterwards told me that he used
a looking-glass." (Dodge's _Plains of the Great West_, _loc. cit._,
pp. 307, 308.)


If two Indians [of the plains] are approaching one another on
horseback, and they may, for instance, be one mile apart, or as far as
they can see each other. At that safe distance one wants to indicate
to the other that he wishes to be friendly. He does this by turning
his horse around and traveling about fifty paces back and forth,
repeating this two or three times; this shows to the other Indian that
he is not for hostility, but for friendly relations. If the second
Indian accepts this proffered overture of friendship, he indicates
the same by locking the fingers of both hands as far as to the first
joints, and in that position raises his hands and lets them rest on
his forehead with the palms either in or out, indifferently, as if he
were trying to shield his eyes from the excessive light of the sun.
This implies, "I, too, am for peace," or "I accept your overture."
(_Sac, Fox, and Kickapoo_ I.) It is interesting in this connection
to note the reception of Father Marquette by an Illinois chief who
is reported to have raised his hands to his eyes as if to shield them
from overpowering splendor. That action was supposed to be made in a
combination of humility and admiration, and a pretended inability to
gaze on the face of the illustrious guest has been taken to be the
conception of the gesture, which in fact was probably only the holding
the interlocked hands in the most demonstrative posture. An oriental
gesture in which the flat hand is actually interposed as a shield
to the eyes before a superior is probably made with the poetical
conception erroneously attributed to the Indian.

The display of green branches to signalize friendly or pacific
intentions does not appear to have been noticed among the North
American Indians by trustworthy observers. Captain Cook makes frequent
mention of it as the ceremonial greeting among islands he visited. See
his _Voyage toward the South Pole. London_, 1784, Vol. II, pp. 30 and
35. Green branches were also waved, in signal of _friendship_ by the
natives of the island of New Britain to the members of the expedition
in charge of Mr. Wilfred Powell in 1878. _Proceedings of the Royal
Geological Society_, February, 1881, p. 89.


---- Stand there! he is coming this way.

Grasp the end of the blanket or robe; wave it downward several times.
(_Omaha_ I.)

---- To inquire disposition.

Wave the folded blanket to the right and left in front of the body,
then point toward the person or persons approaching, and carry it from
a horizontal position in front of the body rapidly downward and upward
several times. (_Dakota_ I.)


Wave the blanket directly in front of the body upward and downward
several times. Many of _anything_. (_Dakota_ I.)


Motion of spreading a real or imaginary robe or skin on the ground.
Noticed by Lewis and Clark on their first meeting with the Shoshoni
in 1805. (_Lewis and Clark's Travels_, &c., London, 1817, vol. ii, p.
74.) This signal is more particularly described as follows: Grasp the
blanket by the two corners with the hands, throw it above the head,
allowing it to unfold as it falls to the ground as if in the act of
spreading it.


The ordinary manner of opening communication with parties known or
supposed to be hostile is to ride toward them in zigzag manner, or to
ride in a circle. (Custer's _My Life on the Plains_, _loc. cit._, p.

This author mentions (p. 202) a systematic manner of waving a blanket,
by which the son of Satana, the Kaiowa chief, conveyed information to
him, and a similar performance by Yellow Bear, a chief of the Arapahos
(p. 219), neither of which he explains in detail.

---- I do not know you. Who are you?

Point the folded blanket at arm's length toward the person, and then
wave it toward the right and left in front of the face. You--I don't
know. Take an end of the blanket in each hand, and extend the arms to
full capacity at the sides of the body, letting the other ends hang
down in front of the body to the ground, means, Where do you come
from? or who are you? (_Dakota_ I.)



Hold the folded blanket or a piece of cloth high above the head. "This
really means 'I want to die right now.'" (_Dakota_ I.)


Take an end of the blanket in each hand, extend the arms at the sides
of the body, allowing the blanket to hang down in front of the body,
and then wave it in a circular manner. (_Dakota_ I.)


Those noted consist of SMOKE, FIRE, or DUST signals.


They [the Indians] had abandoned the coast, along which bale-fires
were left burning and sending up their columns of smoke to advise
the distant bands of the arrival of their old enemy. (Schoolcraft's
_History_, &c., vol. iii, p. 35, giving a condensed account of De
Soto's expedition.)

"Their systems of telegraphs are very peculiar, and though they might
seem impracticable at first, yet so thoroughly are they understood by
the savages that it is availed of frequently to immense advantage. The
most remarkable is by raising smokes, by which many important facts
are communicated to a considerable distance and made intelligible
by the manner, size, number, or repetition of the smokes, which
are commonly raised by firing spots of dry grass." (Josiah Gregg's
_Commerce of the Prairies_. _New York_, 1844, vol. ii, p. 286.)

The highest elevations of land are selected as stations from which
signals with smoke are made. These can be seen at a distance of from
twenty to fifty miles. By varying the number of columns of smoke
different meanings are conveyed. The most simple as well as the most
varied mode, and resembling the telegraphic alphabet, is arranged by
building a small fire, which is not allowed to blaze; then by placing
an armful of partially green grass or weeds over the fire, as if to
smother it, a dense white smoke is created, which ordinarily will
ascend in a continuous vertical column for hundreds of feet. Having
established a current of smoke, the Indian simply takes his blanket
and by spreading it over the small pile of weeds or grass from which
the smoke takes its source, and properly controlling the edges and
corners of the blanket, he confines the smoke, and is in this way able
to retain it for several moments. By rapidly displacing the blanket,
the operator is enabled to cause a dense volume of smoke to rise, the
length or shortness of which, as well as the number and frequency of
the columns, he can regulate perfectly, simply by a proper use of the
blanket. (Custer's _My life on the Plains_, _loc. cit._, p. 187.)

They gathered an armful of dried grass and weeds, which were placed
and carried upon the highest point of the peak, where, everything
being in readiness, the match was applied close to the ground; but
the blaze was no sooner well lighted and about to envelop the entire
amount of grass collected than it was smothered with the unlighted
portion. A slender column of gray smoke then began to ascend in a
perpendicular column. This was not enough, as it might be taken for
the smoke rising from a simple camp-fire. The smoldering grass was
then covered with a blanket, the corners of which were held so closely
to the ground as to almost completely confine and cut off the column
of smoke. Waiting a few moments, until the smoke was beginning to
escape from beneath, the blanket was suddenly thrown aside, when a
beautiful balloon-shaped column puffed up ward like the white cloud of
smoke which attends the discharge of a field-piece. Again casting the
blanket on the pile of grass, the column was interrupted as before,
and again in due time released, so that a succession of elongated,
egg-shaped puffs of smoke kept ascending toward the sky in the most
regular manner. This bead-like column of smoke, considering the height
from which it began to ascend, was visible from points on the level
plain fifty miles distant. (Ib., p. 217.)

       *       *       *       *       *

The following extracts are made from Fremont's _First and Second
Expeditions_, 1842-3-4, Ex. Doc., 28th Cong. 2d Session, Senate,
Washington, 1845:

"Columns of smoke rose over the country at scattered
intervals--signals by which the Indians here, as elsewhere,
communicate to each other that enemies are in the country," p. 220.
This was January 18, 1844, in the vicinity of Pyramid Lake, and
perhaps the signalists were Pai-Utes.

"While we were speaking, a smoke rose suddenly from the cottonwood
grove below, which plainly told us what had befallen him [Tabeau];
it was raised to inform the surrounding Indians that a blow had been
struck, and to tell them to be on their guard," p. 268, 269. This
was on May 5, 1844, near the Rio Virgen, Utah, and was narrated of
"Diggers," probably Chemehuevas.


This is made by sending upward one column of smoke from, a fire
partially smothered by green grass. This is only used by previous
agreement, and if seen by friends of the party, the signal is answered
in the same manner. But should either party discover the presence of
enemies, no signal would be made, but the fact would be communicated
by a runner. (_Dakota_ I.)


Whenever a war party, consisting of either Pima, Papago, or Maricopa
Indians, returned from an expedition into the Apache country, their
success was announced from the first and most distant elevation
visible from their settlements. The number of scalps secured was
shown by a corresponding number of columns of smoke, arranged in a
horizontal line, side by side, so as to be distinguishable by the
observers. When the returning party was unsuccessful, no such signals
were made. (_Pima and Papago_ I.) Fig. 339. A similar custom appears
to have existed among the Ponkas, although the custom has apparently
been discontinued by them, as shown in the following proper name:
Cú-de gá-xe, Smoke maker: He who made a smoke by burning grass
returning from war.


The following information was obtained by Dr. W.J. HOFFMAN from the
Apache chiefs named on page 407, under the title of TINNEAN, (_Apache_

The materials used in making smoke of sufficient density and color
consist of pine or cedar boughs, leaves and grass, which can nearly
always be obtained in the regions occupied by the Apaches of Northern
New Mexico. These Indians state that they employ but three kinds of
signals, each of which consists of columns of smoke, numbering from
one to three or more.


This signal is made by causing three or more columns of smoke to
ascend, and signifies danger or the approach of an enemy, and also
requires the concentration of those who see them. These signals are
communicated from one camp to another, and the most distant bands are
guided by their location. The greater the haste desired the greater
the number of columns of smoke. These are often so hastily made that
they may resemble puffs of smoke, and are caused by throwing heaps of
grass and leaves upon the embers again and again.

[Illustration: Fig. 339.--Signal of successful war-party.]


This signal is generally made by producing one continuous column, and
signifies attention for several purposes, viz, when a band had become
tired of one locality, or the grass may have been consumed by the
ponies, or some other cause necessitated removal, or should an enemy
be reported, which would require farther watching before a decision as
to future action would be made. The intention or knowledge of anything
unusual would be communicated to neighboring bands by causing one
column of smoke to ascend.


When a removal of camp has been made, after the signal for ATTENTION
has been given, and the party have selected a place where they propose
to remain until there may be a necessity or desire for their removal,
two columns of smoke are made, to inform their friends that they
propose to remain at that place. Two columns are also made at other
times during a long continued residence, to inform the neighboring
bands that a camp still exists, and that all is favorable and quiet.


The following examples of smoke signals in foreign lands are added for

Miss Haigh, speaking of the Guanches of the Canary Islands at the time
of the Spanish conquest, says: "When an enemy approached, they alarmed
the country by raising a thick smoke or by whistling, which was
repeated from one to another. This latter method is still in use among
the people of Teneriffe, and may be heard at an almost incredible
distance." (_Trans. Eth. Soc. Lond. vii_, 1869, sec. ser., pp. 109,

"The natives have an easy method of telegraphing news to their distant
friends. When Sir Thomas Mitchell was traveling through Eastern
Australia he often saw columns of smoke ascending through the trees
in the forests, and he soon learned that the natives used the smoke
of fires for the purpose of making known his movements to their
friends. Near Mount Frazer he observed a dense column of smoke, and
subsequently other smokes arose, extending in a telegraphic line far
to the south, along the base of the mountains, and thus communicating
to the natives who might be upon his route homeward the tidings of his

"When Sir Thomas reached Portland Bay he noticed that when a whale
appeared in the bay the natives were accustomed to send up a column of
smoke, thus giving timely intimation to all the whalers. If the whale
should be pursued by one boat's crew only it might be taken; but if
pursued by several, it would probably be run ashore and become food
for the blacks." (Smyth, _loc. cit._, vol. 1, pp. 152, 153, quoting
Maj. T.L. Mitchell's _Eastern Australia_, vol. ii, p. 241.)

Jardine, writing of the natives of Cape York, says that a
"communication between the islanders and the natives of the mainland
is frequent; and the rapid manner in which news is carried from tribe
to tribe, to great distances, is astonishing. I was informed of the
approach of Her Majesty's Steamer Salamander, on her last visit, two
days before her arrival here. Intelligence is conveyed by means of
fires made to throw up smoke in different forms, and by messengers who
perform long and rapid journeys." (Smyth, _loc. cit._, vol. 1, p. 153,
quoting from _Overland Expedition_, p. 85.)

Messengers in all parts of Australia appear to have used this mode of
signaling. In Victoria, when traveling through the forests, they were
accustomed to raise smoke by filling the hollow of a tree with green
boughs and setting fire to the trunk at its base; and in this way,
as they always selected an elevated position for the fire when they
could, their movements were made known.

When engaged in hunting, when traveling on secret expeditions, when
approaching an encampment, when threatened with danger, or when foes
menaced their friends, the natives made signals by raising a smoke.
And their fires were lighted in such a way as to give forth signals
that would be understood by people of their own tribe and by friendly
tribes. They exhibited great ability in managing their system of
telegraphy; and in former times it was not seldom used to the injury
of the white settlers, who at first had no idea that the thin column
of smoke rising through the foliage of the adjacent bush, and raised
perhaps by some feeble old woman, was an intimation to the warriors
to advance and attack the Europeans. (R. Brough Smyth, F.L.S., F.G.S.,
_The Aborigines of Victoria_. _Melbourne_, 1878, vol. i, pp. 152,


"Travelers on the prairie have often seen the Indians throwing up
signal lights at night, and have wondered how it was done.... They
take off the head of the arrow and dip the shaft in gunpowder, mixed
with glue.... The gunpowder adheres to the wood, and coats it three or
four inches from its end to the depth of one-fourth of an inch. Chewed
bark mixed with dry gunpowder is then fastened to the stick, and the
arrow is ready for use. When it is to be fired, a warrior places it on
his bowstring and draws his bow ready to let it fly; the point of the
arrow is then lowered, another warrior lights the dry bark, and it is
shot high in the air. When it has gone up a little distance, it bursts
out into a flame, and burns brightly until it falls to the ground.
Various meanings are attached to these fire-arrow signals. Thus, one
arrow meant, among the Santees, 'The enemy are about'; two arrows
from the same point, 'Danger'; three, 'Great danger'; many, 'They
are too strong, or we are falling back'; two arrows sent up at the
same moment, 'We will attack'; three, 'Soon'; four, 'Now'; if shot
diagonally, 'In that direction.' These signals are constantly changed,
and are always agreed upon when the party goes out or before it
separates. The Indians send their signals very intelligently, and
seldom make mistakes in telegraphing each other by these silent
monitors. The amount of information they can communicate by fires and
burning arrows is perfectly wonderful. Every war party carries with it
bundles of signal arrows." (_Belden, The White Chief; or Twelve Years
among the Wild Indians of the Plains_. _Cincinnati and New York_,
1871, pp. 106, 107.)

With regard to the above, it is possible that white influence has been
felt in the mode of signaling as well as in the use of gunpowder,
but it would be interesting to learn if any Indians adopted a similar
expedient before gunpowder was known to them. They frequently used
arrows, to which flaming material was attached, to set fire to the
wooden houses of the early colonists. The Caribs were acquainted with
this same mode of destruction as appears by the following quotation:

"Their arrows were commonly poisoned, except when they made their
military excursions by night; on these occasions they converted
them into instruments of still greater mischief; for, by arming the
points with pledgets of cotton dipped in oil, and set on fire, they
fired whole villages of their enemies at a distance." (_Alcedo. The
Geograph. and Hist. Dict. of America and the West Indies_. Thompson's
trans. _London_, 1812, Vol. I, p. 314.)


When an enemy, game, or anything else which was the special object
of search is discovered, handfulls of dust are thrown into the air
to announce that discovery. This signal has the same general
signification as when riding to and fro, or, round in a circle on an
elevated portion of ground, or a bluff. (_Dakota_ VII, VII.)

When any game or any enemy is discovered, and should the sentinel be
without a blanket, he throws a handful of dust up into the air. When
the Brulés attacked the Ponkas, in 1872, they stood on the bluff and
threw up dust. (_Omaha_ I; _Ponka_ I.)

There appears to be among the Bushmen a custom of throwing up sand or
earth into the air when at a distance from home and in need of help of
some kind from those who were there. (_Miss L.C. Lloyd, MS. Letter_,
dated July 10, 1880, from Charlton House, Mowbray, near Cape Town,


The following information was obtained from WA-Uⁿ'(_Bobtail_),
MO-HI'-NUK'-MA-HA'-IT (_Big horse_), Cheyennes, and O-QO-HIS'-SA (_The
Mare_, better known as "Little Raven"), and NA'-WATC (_Left Hand_),
Arapahos, chiefs and members of a delegation who visited Washington,
D.C., in September, 1880, in the interest of their tribes dwelling in
Indian Territory:

A party of Indians going on the war-path leave camp, announcing their
project to the remaining individuals and informing neighboring friends
by sending runners. A party is not systematically organized until
several days away from its headquarters, unless circumstances should
require immediate action. The pipe-bearers are appointed, who precede
the party while on the march, carrying the pipes, and no one is
allowed to cross ahead of these individuals, or to join the party
by riding up before the head of the column, as it would endanger the
success of the expedition. All new arrivals fall in from either side
or the rear. Upon coming in sight of any elevations of land likely to
afford a good view of the surrounding country the warriors come to
a halt and secrete themselves as much as possible. The scouts who
have already been selected, advance just before daybreak to within a
moderate distance of the elevation to ascertain if any of the enemy
has preceded them. This is only discovered by carefully watching the
summit to see if any objects are in motion; if not, the flight of
birds is observed, and if any should alight upon the hill or butte
it would indicate the absence of anything that might ordinarily scare
them away. Should a large bird, as a raven, crow, or eagle, fly toward
the hill-top and make a sudden swerve to either side and disappear, it
would indicate the presence of something sufficient to require further
examination. When it is learned that there is reason to suspect an
enemy the scout, who has all the time been closely watched by the
party in the rear, makes a signal for them to lie still, signifying
_danger or caution._ It is made by grasping the blanket with the right
hand and waving it earthward from a position in front of and as high
as the shoulder. This is nearly the same as civilized Americans use
the hand for a similar purpose in battle or hunting to direct "lie

Should the hill, however, be clear of any one, the Indian will ascend
slowly, and under cover as much as possible, and gain a view of the
country. If there is no one to be seen, the blanket is grasped and
waved horizontally from right to left and back again repeatedly,
showing a clear surface. If the enemy is discovered, the scout will
give the _alarm_ by running down the hill, upon a side visible to the
watchers, in a zigzag manner, which communicates the state of affairs.

Should any expedition or advance be attempted at night, the same
signals as are made with the blanket are made with a firebrand, which
is constructed of a bunch of grass tied to a short pole.

When a war party encamps for a night or a day or more, a piece of wood
is stuck into the ground, pointing in the direction pursued, with a
number of cuts, notches, or marks corresponding to the number of days
which the party spent after leaving the last camp until leaving the
present camp, serving to show to the recruits to the main party the
course to be followed, and the distance.

A hunting party in advancing takes the same precautions as a war
party, so as not to be surprised by an enemy. If a scout ascends a
prominent elevation and discovers no game, the blanket is grasped and
waved horizontally from side to side at the height of the shoulders or
head; and if game is discovered the Indian rides back and forth (from
left to right) a short distance so that the distant observers can view
the maneuver. If a large herd of buffalo is found, the extent traveled
over in going to and fro increases in proportion to the size of the
herd. A quicker gait is traveled when the herd is very large or haste
on the part of the hunters is desired.

It is stated that these Indians also use mirrors to signal from one
elevation to another, but the system could not be learned, as they say
they have no longer use for it, having ceased warfare(?).


In the following pages the scheme of graphic illustration, intended
both to save labor and secure accuracy, which was presented in the
_Introduction to the Study of Sign Language_, is reproduced with some
improvements. It is given for the use of observers who may not see
that publication, the material parts of which being included in
the present paper it is not necessary that the former should now be
furnished. The TYPES OF HAND POSITIONS were prepared for reference
by the corresponding letters of the alphabet to avoid tedious
description, should any of them exactly correspond, or by alteration,
as suggested in the note following them. These, as well as the
OUTLINES OF ARM POSITIONS, giving front and side outline's with arms
pendant, were distributed in separate sheets to observers for their
convenience in recording, and this will still be cheerfully done
when request is made to the present writer. When the sheets are not
accessible the TYPES can be used for graphic changes by tracing the
one selected, or by a few words indicating the change, as shown in the
EXAMPLES. The OUTLINES OF ARM POSITIONS can also be readily traced for
the same use as if the sheets had been provided. It is hoped that this
scheme, promoting uniformity in description and illustration, will be
adopted by all observers who cannot be specially addressed.

Collaborators in the gestures of foreign uncivilized peoples will
confer a favor by sending at least one photograph or sketch in native
costume of a typical individual of the tribe, the gestures of which
are reported upon, in order that it may be reproduced in the complete
work. Such photograph or sketch need not be made in the execution of
any particular gesture, which can be done by artists engaged on the
work, but would be still more acceptable if it could be so made.


The gestures, to be indicated by corrected positions of arms and
by dotted lines showing the motion from the initial to the final
positions (which, are severally marked by an arrow-head and a
cross--see EXAMPLES), will always be shown as they appear to an
observer facing the gesturer, the front outline, Fig. 340, or
side, Fig. 341, or both, being used as most convenient. The special
positions of hands and fingers will be designated by reference to
the TYPES OF HAND POSITIONS. For brevity in the written description,
"hand" may be used for "right hand," when that one alone is employed
in any particular gesture. When more convenient to use the profile
figure in which the right arm is exhibited for a gesture actually
made by the left hand and arm it can be done, the fact, however, being

[Illustration: Fig. 340.]

[Illustration: Fig. 341.]

In cases where the conception or origin of any sign is ascertained or
suggested it should be annexed to the description, and when obtained
from the gesturer will be so stated affirmatively, otherwise it
will be considered to be presented by the observer. The graphic
illustration of associated facial expression or bodily posture
which may accentuate or qualify a gesture is necessarily left to the
ingenuity of the contributor.


The following order of arrangement for written descriptions is
suggested. The use of a separate sheet or part sheet of paper for each
sign described and illustrated would be convenient in the collation.
It should always be affirmatively stated whether the "conception or
origin" of the sign was procured from the sign-maker, or is suggested
or inferred by the observer.

  _Word or idea expressed by Sign_: __________________







  _Tribe_: ________________________________


  _Date_: _____________________ 188_.



[Illustration: A--Fist, palm outward, horizontal.]

[Illustration: B--Fist, back outward, oblique upward.]

[Illustration: C--Clinched, with thumb extended against forefinger,
upright, edge outward.]

[Illustration: D--Clinched, ball of thumb against middle of
forefinger, oblique, upward, palm down.]

[Illustration: E--Hooked, thumb against end of forefinger, upright,
edge outward.]

[Illustration: F--Hooked, thumb against side of forefinger, oblique,
palm outward.]

[Illustration: G--Fingers resting against ball of thumb, back upward.]

[Illustration: H--Arched, thumb horizontal against end of forefinger,
back upward.]

[Illustration: I--Closed, except forefinger crooked against end of
thumb, upright, palm outward.]

[Illustration: J--Forefinger straight, upright, others closed, edge

[Illustration: K--Forefinger obliquely extended upward, others closed,
edge outward.]

[Illustration: L--Thumb vertical, forefinger horizontal, others
closed, edge outward.]

FIG. 342a.

[Illustration: M--Forefinger horizontal, fingers and thumb closed,
palm outward.]

[Illustration: N--First and second fingers straight upward and
separated, remaining fingers and thumb closed, palm outward.]

[Illustration: O--Thumb, first and second fingers separated, straight
upward, remaining fingers curved edge outward.]

[Illustration: P--Fingers and thumb partially curved upward and
separated, knuckles outward.]

[Illustration: Q--Fingers and thumb, separated, slightly curved,

[Illustration: R--Fingers and thumb extended straight, separated,

[Illustration: S--Hand and fingers upright, joined, back outward.]

[Illustration: T--Hand and fingers upright, joined, palm outward.]

[Illustration: U--Fingers collected to a point, thumb resting in

[Illustration: V--Arched, joined, thumb resting near end of
forefinger, downward.]

[Illustration: W--Hand horizontal, flat, palm downward.]

[Illustration: X--Hand horizontal, flat, palm upward.]

[Illustration: Y--Naturally relaxed, normal; used when hand simply
follows arm with no intentional disposition.]

FIG. 342b.


The positions are given as they appear to an observer facing the
gesturer, and are designed to show the relations of the fingers to the
hand rather than the positions of the hand relative to the body,
which must be shown by the outlines (see OUTLINES OF ARM POSITIONS)
or description. The right and left hands are figured above without
discrimination, but in description or reference the right hand will
be understood when the left is not specified. The hands as figured
can also with proper intimation be applied with changes either
upward, downward, or inclined to either side, so long as the relative
positions of the fingers are retained, and when in that respect no one
of the types exactly corresponds with a sign observed, modifications
may be made by pen or pencil on that one of the types, or a tracing of
it, found most convenient, as indicated in the EXAMPLES, and referred
to by the letter of the alphabet under the type changed, with the
addition of a numeral--e.g., A 1, and if that type, i.e., A, were
changed a second time by the observer (which change would necessarily
be drawn on another sheet of types or another tracing of a type
selected when there are no sheets provided), it should be referred to
as A 2.


_Word or idea expressed by sign: To cut, with an ax._


[Illustration: Fig. 343.]

With the right hand flattened (X changed to right instead of left),
palm upward, move it downward to the left side repeatedly from
different elevations, ending each stroke at the same point. Fig. 343.


From the act of felling a tree.

_Word or idea expressed by sign: A lie._


Touch the left breast over the heart, and pass the hand forward from
the mouth, the two first fingers only being extended and slightly
separated (L, 1--with thumb resting on third finger, Fig. 344a).
Fig. 344.



[Illustration: L1, Fig. 344a.]

[Illustration: Fig. 344.]

_Word or idea expressed by sign: To ride._

[Illustration: N1 Fig. 345a.]


[Illustration: Fig. 345.]

Place the first two fingers of the right hand, thumb extended (N 1,
Fig. 345a) downward, astraddle the first two joined and straight
fingers of the left (T 1, Fig. 345b), sidewise, to the right, then
make several short, arched movements forward with hands so joined.
Fig. 345.


The horse mounted and in motion.

[Illustration: T1 Fig. 345b.]

_Word or idea expressed by signs: I am going home._


[Illustration: Fig. 346.]

(1) Touch the middle of the breast with the extended index (K), then
(2) pass it slowly downward and outward to the right, and when the
hand is at arm's length, at the height of the shoulder, (3) clinch it
(A) suddenly and throw it edgewise toward the ground. Fig. 346.


(1) I, personality; (2) motion and direction; (3) locality of my


The following indicative marks are used in the above examples:

...........Dotted lines indicate movements to place the hand and arm
in position to commence the sign and not forming part of it.

-----------Short dashes indicate the course of hand employed in the
sign, when made rapidly.

-- -- -- --Longer dashes indicate a less rapid movement.

---- ---- Broken lines represent slow movement.

> Indicates commencement of movement in representing sign, or part of

X Represents the termination of movements.

[Symbol: Circle about a dot] Indicates the point in the gesture line
at which the hand position is changed.


  Abbreviations in signs, 338
  Abnaki, Intelligence communicated by, 369
  Absaroka, Tribal signs for, 458
  Abstract ideas expressed in signs, 348
  Actors, modern, Use of gestures by, 308
  Addison, Gestures of orators, 294
  Æschylus, Theatrical gestures, 286
  Affirmation, Sign for, 286, 454
  Alarm, Signs for, 529, 538
  Alaskan Indians, Dialogue between, 492
  Alaskans, Sign language of the, 313
  Alive, Sign for, 421
  All together, Sign for, 523
  Anger, Sign for, 301
    , Signal for, 529
  Antelope, Signs for, 410
  Antiquity of gesture speech, 285
  Apache pictographs connected with signs, 372
    , Tribal signs for, 459
  Apaches, Smoke signals of the, 538
  Aphasia, Gestures in, 276
  Applause, Signs for, 300
  Application, Practical, of sign language, 346
  Approbation, Sign for, 286
  Arapaho, Tribal signs for, 460
  Arbitrary signs, 340
  Archæologic research connected with sign language, 368
  Argyle, Duke of, Gestures of Fuegans, 293
  Arikara, Tribal signs for, 461
  Arm positions, Outlines of, in sign language, 545
  Arrangement in descriptions of signs, 546
  Art, Modern Italian, exhibiting gestures, 292
  Articulate speech, preceded by gesture, 274, 284
  Artificial articulation, 275, 307
  Asking, Signs for, 291, 297
  Assinaboin, Tribal signs for, 461
  Astute, Sign for, 305
  Athenæus, Account of Telestes, 286
    , Classification of gestures, 285
  Atsina, Tribal signs for, 462
  Attention, Signal for, 539
  Austin, Rev. Gilbert, Chironomia, 289
  Australians, Gestures of, 306
  Authorities in sign language, List of, 401
  Ax, Sign for, 380
  Bad, Signs for, 411
  Banak, Tribal signs for, 462
  Battle, Sign for, 419
  Bear, Signs for, 412
  Bede, The venerable, Treatise on gestures, 287
  Bell, Prof. A. Graham, Vocal articulation of dogs, 275
  Blackfeet, Tribal signs for, 462
  Blind, Gestures of the, 278
  Born, Signs for, 356
  Bossu, M., Signs of the Atakapa, 324
  Brave, Signs for, 352, 364, 414
  Brother, Sign for, 521
  Brule Dakota colloquy in signs, 491
  Buffalo, Sign for, 488
     Signals for, discovered, 532
  Bushmann, J.C.E., Signs of Accocessaws, 324
  Butler, Prof. James D., Italian signs, 408
  Burton, Capt. R.F., Arapaho language, 314
  Cabéça de Vaca, Signs of Timucuas, 324
  Caddo, Tribal sign for, 464
  Camp, Signals for, 532, 539
  Capture, Sign for, 506
  Chesterfield, Lord, Gestures of orators, 311
  Cheyenne, Tribal signs for, 464
  Chief, Signs for, 353, 416
  Child, Signs for, 304, 356
  Children, Gestures of young, 276
  Chinese characters connected with signs, 356, 357
    , Expedient of the, in place of signs, 306
  Chinook jargon, 313
  Chironomia, by Rev. Gilbert Austin, 289
  Cistercian monks, Gestures of the, 288, 364
  Clarke, Mr. Ben., Local source of sign language, 317
  Classic pantomimes, 286
  Cold, Signs for, 345, 486
  Collaborators in sign language, List of, 401
  Collecting signs, Suggestions for, 394
  Comanche, Tribal signs for, 466
  Come here, Signals for, 529, 532
  Comédie Française, Gestures of the, 309
  Comparison, Degrees of, in sign language, 363
  Conjunctions in sign language, 367
  Conventionality of signs, 333, 336, 340
  Corbusier, Dr. William H., local source of sign language, 317
    , Sign for strong, 304
  Corporeal gestures generally, 270, 273
  Correspondents, Foreign, on sign language, 407
  Crafty, Sign for, 303
  Cree, Tribal signs for, 466
  Cresollius, Precedence of gestures, 282
     Value of gestures, 280
  Cut with an ax, Sign for, 550
  Dakota calendar, 373, 377, 382, 384
    , Tribal signs for, 467
  Dalgarno, George, Gestures real writing, 355
    , Works of, 284, 287
  Danger, Signals for, 529, 532
  Darwin, Charles, Analysis of emotional gestures, 270
      , Gestures of Fuegans, 293
  Day, Signs for, 371
  Deaf and dumb, American annals of the, 293
  Deaf-Mute College, National, Test of signs at the, 321
  Deaf-mutes, Methodical signs of, 362
    , Milan Convention on instruction of, 307
    , Signs of instructed, 362, 397
    , Signs of uninstructed, 277
    , Sounds uttered by uninstructed, 277
  Death, Signs for, 353, 420, 497
  Deceit, Signs for, 303
  Defiance, Signals for, 530
  Denial of the existence of sign language, Mistaken, 326
  Derision, Sign for, 301
  Dialects, Numerous, connected with gesture language, 294, 306
  Dialogues in sign language, 486
  Dictionary of sign language, Extracts from, 409
  Disappearing Mist, Account of, 327
  Discontinuance of sign language, Circumstances connected with the,
  Discourses in signs, 521
  Discovery, Signals for, 533
  Diversities in signs, Classes of, 341
  Divisions of sign language, 270
  Dodge, Col. Richard I., Abbreviations of signs, 339
                        , Identity of sign language, 316, 335
  Dog, Signs for, 321, 387
  Done, finished, Sign for, 513, 522, 528
  Dorsey, Rev. J. Owen, Mistaken denial of signs, 326
  Doubt, Sign for, 512
  Drink, Sign for, 301, 344, 357
  Dumas, Alexandra, Sicilian signs, 295
  Dupe, Sign for, 305
  Dust signals, 541
  Eat, Sign for, 301, 480
  Egyptian characters connected with signs, 304, 355, 357, 358, 359,
          370, 379, 380
  Emblems distinguished from signs, 389
  Ethnologic facts connected with signs, 384
  Etymology of words from gestures, 352
  Evening, Signs for, 353
  Evolution, distinguished from invention of sign language, 319, 388
  Exchange, Signs for, 454
  Facial expression generally, 270, 273
     play, giving detailed information, 271
  Fatigue, Sign for, 305
  Fay, Prof. E.A., contributions on signs, 309, 408
  Fear, Sign for, 506
  Female, Signs for, 300, 357
  Ferdinand, King of Naples, speech in signs, 294
  Fingers, Details of position of, in sign language, 392
    , Special significance in disposition of, by Italians, 285
  Fire arrows, Signals by, 540
    , Signs for, 344, 380
  Flathead, Tribal signs for, 468
  Fool, Signs for, 297, 303, 345, 505, 506
  Foreign correspondents on sign language, 407
  Fox, Tribal sign for, 468
  Frémont, General J.C., Signs of Pai-Utes and Shoshonis, 324
  Friend, friendship, Signs for, 384, 491, 527
  Gallaudet, President T.H., Facial expression, 271
    , President E.M., Test of Utes in signs, 321, 323
  Gender in sign language, 366
  Gestures as an occasional resource, 279
     as survival of a sign language, 330
    , blind, of the, 278
    , Etymology of words from, 352
     in mental disorder, 276
    , Involuntary response to, 280
    , fluent talkers, of, 279
     Language not proportionate to development of, 293, 314
     low tribes of men, of, 279
     lower animals, of, 275
     modern actors, used by, 308
     modern orators, used by, 311
     young children, of, 276
  Gilbert, G.K., Pueblo etchings, 371, 372, 373
  Glad, Sign for, 495
  Good, Signs for, 424
  Grammar, Sign language with reference to, 359
  Grass, Sign for, 343
  Greek vases, Figures on, explained by modern Italian gestures,
          289, 290
  Grow, Sign for, 343
  Habitation, Signs for, 427
  Haerne, Mgr. D. de, Works on sign language, 292
  Hale, Horatio, Mohawk signs, 327
  Halt! Signals for, 530, 535
  Hand positions, Types of, 547
  Hand-shaking, connected with signs, 385
  Harpokrates, Erroneous character for, 304
  Hear, Signs for, 376
  Hénto (Gray Eyes), Wyandot signs, 327
  Heredity, Cases of, in speech, 276, 277
  Hesitation, Signs for, 291
  Hidatsa, Tribal signs for, 469
  History of sign language, 285
  Hoffman, Dr. W.J. Collaboration of, in sign language, 399
  Holmes, W.H., Artistic aid of, 400
  Home, Signs for, 483, 485
  Homomorphy of signs with diverse meanings, 342
  Horn sign, Italian, 298, 299
  Horse, Signs for, 433
  House, Signs for, 427
  Humboldt, Signs of South Americans, 307
  Hunger, Signs for, 304, 485
  Illustration, Scheme of, in sign language, 544
  Illustrations, Examples of, for collaboration on sign language, 550
  Indian, generically, Signs for, 469
     languages, Discussion of, 516
  Indians, Condition of the, favorable to sign language, 311
    , Theories respecting the signs of, 313
  Innuits, Sign language of, 307
  Inquiry, Signs for, 291, 297, 303, 447, 480, 486, 494
    , Signals for, 531, 536
  Insult, Sign of, 304
  Interjectional cries, 283
  Interrogation, Mark of, in sign language, 367
  Invention of new signs in sign language, 387
  Involuntary response to gestures, 280
  Isolation, Loss of speech by, 278
  Italians, Modern, Signs of, 285, 305
  Jacker, Very Rev. Edward, Disuse of signs, 325
  Jorio, The canon Andrea de, Works on sign language, 289
  Joy, Signs for, 300
  Justice, Sign for, 302
  Kaiowa, Tribal signs for, 470
  Keep, Rev. J. R., Syntax of Sign language, 360
  Kickapoo, Tribal signs for, 470
  Kill, Signs for, 377, 437
  Kin Chē-ĕss, Address of, 521
  Knife, Sign for, 386
  Kutine, Tribal signs for, 470
  Language, Primitive, theories upon, 282
  Lately, Signs for, 366
  Lean Wolf's Complaint, in signs, 526
  Leibnitz, Signs connected with philology, 349
                                 syntax, 360
  Leonardo da Vinci, 292
  Lie, falsehood, Signs for, 345, 393, 550
  Lightning, Signs for, 373
  Lipan, Tribal sign for, 471
  Loss of speech by isolation, 278
  Love, Signs for, 345, 521
  Low tribes of men, Gestures of, 279
  Lower animals, Gestures of, 275
  Lucian, de saltatione, 287
  Man, Sign for, 416
  Mandan, Tribal sign for, 471
  Mano in fica, Neapolitan sign, 300
  Many, Signs for, 445, 496, 524, 535
  Marriage, Signs for, 290
  Maya characters connected with signs, 356, 376
  Medicine, Signs for, 386
  Medicine-man, Signs for, 380
  Mental disorder, Gestures in, 276
  Methodical signs of deaf-mutes, 362
  Mexican characters connected with signs, 357, 375, 377, 380, 382
  Michaëlius, Algonkin signs, 324
  Milan convention on instruction of deafmutes, 307
  Missouri River, Sign for, 477
  Modern use of sign language, 293
  Money, Sign for, 297
  Moose, Sign for, 495
  Moqui pictographs connected with signs, 371, 373
  Morgan, Lewis H., Atsina signs, 312
  Morse, E.S., Japanese signs, 442
  Mother, Sign for, 479
  Motions relative to parts of body in sign language, 393
  Much, Signs for, 446
  Müller, Max, Theories relating to language, 277, 281, 283
  Narratives in sign language, 500
  Natci's narrative in signs, 500
  National Deaf-Mute College, 321, 408
  Natural pantomime, 280
     signs, 307, 340
  Na-wa-gi-jig's story in signs, 508
  Neapolitan gestures and signs, 289, 296-305
  Negation of affirmative in sign language, 391
    , Signs for, 290, 299, 300, 304, 355, 440, 494
  Night, Signs for, 358
  Nothing, none, Signs for, 322, 355, 356, 443
  Now, Signs for, 366
  Occasional resource, Gestures as an, 279
  Ojibwa dialogue in signs, 499
     pictographs connected with signs, 371, 372, 376, 380, 381
    , Tribal sign for, 472
  Old man, Sign for, 338
  Omaha colloquy in signs, 490
  Onomatopeia, 283
  Opposite, Signs for, 353
  Opposition in sign language, 364
  Oral language defined, 273
    , primitive, 274
  Orators, modern, Gestures used by, 311
  Origin of sign language, 273
  Osage, Tribal signs for, 472
  Ouray, head chief of Utes, 315, 328
  Pani, Tribal signs for, 472
  Pantomime, Natural, 280
  Pantomimes, Classic, 286
  Partisan, Signs for, 384, 418
  Patricio's narrative in signs, 505
  Peace, Signals for, 530, 534, 535
    , Signs for, 438
  Pend d'Oreille, Tribal sign for, 473
  Period, Mark of, in sign language, 368
  Permanence of signs, 329
  Peruvian characters connected with signs, 371
  Philology, Relation of sign language to, 349
  Phrases in sign language, 479
  Pictographs connected with sign language, 368
  Porter, Prof. Samuel, Thought without language, 277
  Possession, Sign for, 484, 524
  Powell, J.W., Indian orthography, 484
      , Inflexions in Indian languages, 351
      , Linguistic classification, 403
  Prepositions in sign language, 367
  Pretty, Signs for, 300
  Primitive language, Theories upon, 282
     oral language, 274
  Prisoner, Sign for, 345
  Proper names in sign language, 364, 476
  Pueblo pictographs connected with signs, 373
    , Tribal sign for, 473
  Punctuation in sign language, 367
  Quantity, Signs for, 291, 359, 445
  Question, Signs for, 291, 297, 303, 447, 480, 486, 494
    , Signals for, 531, 536
  Quintilian, Antiquity of gesture language, 285
    , Powers of gesture, 280
    , Questioning by gesture, 449
    , Rules for gesture, 285
  Rabbit, Sign for, 321
  Rabelais, Forced and mistaken signs, 338
    , Head shaking, 441
    , Primitive language, 282
    , Sign for marriage, 290
    , Signs addressed to women, 310
    , Universal language, 287
  Raffaelle, Attention to gestures, 292
  Railroad cars, Sign for, 322
  Rain myth, Signs for, 344, 357, 372
  Rapport necessary in gestures, 310
  Rejection, Signs for, 298, 299
  Researches in sign language, how made, 395
  Results sought in study of sign language, 346
  Ride, Sign for, 551
  Ruxton, 324
  Sac, or Sanki, Tribal sign for, 473
  Safety, Signals for, 536
  Sahaptin, Tribal sign, for, 473
  Same, similar, Sign for, 385
  Sayce, Prof. A.H., Origin of language in gestures, 283, 284
  Scocciare, Italian sign for, 298
  Seraglio, mutes of the, Gestures of the, 307
  Shawnee, Tribal sign for, 474
  Sheepeater, Tribal signs for, 474
  Shoshone, Tribal signs for, 474
  Sibscota, Mutes of Seraglio, 307
  Sicard, Abbé, Deaf mute signs, 277, 288, 362
  Sicily, Gesture language in, 295
  Sign language, Abstract ideas expressed in, 348
      , Alaskans, of the, 513
      , Antiquity of, 285
      , Apache pictographs connected with, 372
      , Archæologic research connected with, 368
      , Arrangement in description of signs in, 546
      , Australian, 306
      , Authorities in, list of, 401
      , Chinese characters connected with, 356, 357
      , Cistercian monks, of, 283, 364
      , collaborators in, List of, 401
      , comparison, Degrees of, in, 363
      , Conjunctions in, 367
      , Convention, not requiring, 334
      , Corporeal gestures in, 270, 273
      , correspondents, Foreign, on, 407
      , deaf-mutes, of uninstructed, 277
      , dialects, numerous, connected with, 294
      , Dialogues in, 486
      , Dictionary of, Extracts from, 409
      , Discontinuance of, 312
      , Discourses in, 521
      , Egyptian characters connected with, 304, 355, 357-359, 370,
          379, 380
      , Emotional gestures in, 270
      , Ethnologic facts connected with, 384
       evolved rather than invented, 319
      , Facial expression in, 270, 273
      , fingers, Details of position of, in, 392, 547
      , Gender in, 366
      , Grammar connected with, 359
      , hand positions, Types of, in, 547
      , History of, 285
      , illustration, Scheme of, in, 544
      , Indian and deaf-mute, compared, 320
               and foreign, compared, 319
           Special and peculiar is the, 319
       Indians, North American, Once universal among, 324-326
       Conditions favorable to, 311
       Innuits, of the, 307
      , interrogation, Mark of, in, 367
      , Invention of new signs in, 387
      , Italians, modern, of, 285, 305
      , languages, Indian, compared with, 351
      , Maya characters connected with, 356, 376
      , Mexican characters connected with, 357, 375, 377, 380, 382
      , Mistaken denial of existence of, 326
      , Modern use of, 293
      , Modern use of, by other than North American Indians, 320
      , Motions relative to parts of body in, 393, 545
      , Narratives in, 500
      , Negation or affirmative in, 391
      , Ojibwa pictographs connected with, 371, 372, 380, 381
      , Opposition in, 364
      , Oral language not proportioned to development of, 293, 314
      , Origin of, 273
      , Origin of, from a particular tribe, 316
      , Outlines of arm positions in, 545
      , period, Mark of, in, 368
      , Peruvian characters connected with, 371
      , Phrases in, 479
      , Pictographs connected with, 368
      , Practical application of, 346
      , preceded articulate speech, 274, 284
      , Prepositions in, 367
      , Prevalence of Indian system of, 323
      , Proper names in, 364, 476
      , Pueblo pictographs connected with, 373
      , Punctuation, in, 367
      , Philology, relation of, to, 349
      , Researches, Mode in which made on, 395
      , Resemblance to Indian languages, 351
      , Results sought in the study of, 346
       Seraglio, of the mutes of the, 307
      , Sicilian, 295
      , Sociologic conditions connected with, 293, 304
      , South American, 307
      , Survival of, 306
      , Syntax connected with, 359
      , Tense in, 366
      , Time in, 366
      , Tribal signs in, 458
      , writing, Origin of, connected with, 354
  Signals, Apache, 534
    , bodily action, Executed by, 529
    , Cheyenne and Arapaho, 542
    , Dust, 541
    , Fire arrows used in, 540
    , Foreign, 549
    , Smoke, 536
     when person signaling is not seen, 536
     with objects in connection with personal action, 532
  Signs, Abbreviation in, 338
    , Arbitrary, 340
    , Conventional, 333, 336, 340
     deaf-mutes, of uninstructed, 277
    , diversities in, Classes of, 341
    , Forced, 336
    , Homomorphy of, with diverse meanings, 342
    , Mistaken, 336
    , Natural, 307, 340
    , Oral language, not proportioned to development of, 293, 314
    , Permanence of, 329
    , Power of, compared with speech, 347, 349
    , Surviving in gesture, 330
    , Symmorphs in, 343
    , Synonyms in, 341
    , Systematic use of, distinguished from uniformity of, 330
    , Theories of Indians, respecting the, 313
  Silence, Sign for, 304
  Small, Sign for, 302
  Smoke, Sign for, 343, 380
     signals, 536
    , Foreign, 539
  Smyth, E. Brough, Australian, signs, 306, 408
  Sociologic conditions connected with use of gestures, 293
  Soldier, Signs for, 344, 449, 505
  South Americans, Signs of, 307
  Speak, speech, Signs for, 345, 373
  Squirrel, Sign for, 321
  Steamboat, Sign for, 388
  Stone, Signs for, 386, 515
  Stupidity, Signs for, 303
  Submission, Signals for, 531
  Suggestions for collecting signs, 394
  Sun, Signs for, 344, 370
  Sunrise, Sign for, 371
  Surrender, Signals for, 531, 536
  Surrounded, Signal for, 536
  Suspicion, Sign for, 306
  Swedenborg, Primitive language, 288
  Symbols, distinguished from signs, 388
  Symmorphs in signs, 343
  Synonyms in signs, 341
  Syntax, Sign language with reference to, 359
  Talkers, fluent, Gestures of, 279
  Tendoy-Huerito dialogue in signs, 486
  Tennanah, Tribal sign for, 475
  Tense in sign language, 336
  Theft, Signs for, 292, 345
  Time, in sign language, 386
    , long, Sign for, 522
    , Signs for, 350, 508
  To-day, Signs for, 386
  Trade, Signs for, 381, 450, 495
  Tree, Signs for, 343, 496, 524
  Tribal signs, 458
  Trumbull, Dr. J. Hammond, Composition of Indian words, 351
  Tso-di-á-ko's Report, in signs, 524
  Tylor, Dr. E.B., Sign language, 293, 320, 323
  Uniformity of signs distinguished from their systematic use, 330
  Ute, Tribal signs for, 475
  Village, Signs for, 386
  Vinci, Leonardo da, use of gestures, 292
  Wagon, Sign for, 322
  Want, Sign for, 344
  Warning, Sign for, 301, 302
  Washington, City of, Sign for, 470
  Water, Signs for, 357, 494
  White man, Signs for, 450, 469, 491, 000, 526
  Whitney, Prof. W.D., Primitive speech, 283
  Wichita, Tribal signs for, 476
  Wilkins, Bishop, Philosophic language, 288
  Williams, Mr. B.O., 326
  Wiseman, Cardinal, Gesture of blind man, 278
      , Italian signs, 408
  Woman, Sign for, 497
  Worthlessness, Sign for, 301
  Writing, origin of, Gestures connected with the, 354
  Wyandot, Tribal sign for, 476

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Sign Language Among North American Indians Compared With That Among Other Peoples And Deaf-Mutes - First Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the - Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, 1879-1880, - Government Printing Office, Washington, 1881, pages 263-552" ***

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