Tribal Signs – Sihasapa to Wyandot – Sign Language

Sihasapa, See under Dakota.


Sioux, See Dakota.



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.)” Mountain-river-men.”


“They who live on mountains” have a complicated sign which denotes “living in mountains,” and is composed of the signs Sit and Mountain. (Burton.)

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.”

Wasaji, See Osage.



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.”

Sign Language Among North American Indians Compared with that Among Other Peoples and Deaf-Mutes. 1881

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