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Hand talk: Reclaiming Plains Indian Sign Language – Canadian Geographic

by ahnationtalk on June 14, 202441 Views

Jun 14, 2024

One summer, when the theatre artist Floyd Favel was in his early 20s, he went to a Sun Dance ceremony in the Qu’Appelle Valley of southern Saskatchewan. An Assiniboine Elder from Montana spotted him and gestured for him to come over.

Intrigued, Favel did. The Elder made more gestures with his hands. Favel was astounded. “And so I asked him, ‘Do you know that sign language?’ And he said, ‘Yes!’ And I said, ‘Show me some more signs!’ And so he showed me some more signs.”

As a child and young man, Favel, whose first language is Cree, had seen his Deaf grandmother, Philomine Star, make similar gestures. But it was a revelation to him to see an Elder from a different part of the Prairies who was not Deaf use the same motions to communicate.

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