BIRTH: The let hand
is held a short distance from the chest, palm up. With the right
make the motion of pulling something energetically towards you.
TO COOK: Make in succession the signs for "hard," "fire" and "good."
TO DRINK: Turn your
side to the other person. Cup your right hand and draw it slowly
your lips as if you were drinking. This same sign is also used for "water."
TO EAT: Cup your right
hand to resemble an upside-down bowl or basin. Keeping the hand on
a horizontal plane, move it towards the mouth. Then pull it away and move it back towards the
mouth, repeating this several times. This sign can also mean "to get provisions."
HOUSE, HOME: With the
hands open and placed against the chest horizontally, interlock both
sets of fingers at right angles to one another.
SIT DOWN, STAY: Hold
the right hand clenched into a firm fist at shoulder level. Then
briskly 4 inches.
TO SLEEP: Hold both
hands open with palms facing each other, and place them on the right
side of your head. Then tilt your head to the right and pretend to sleep.
TO WASH: Make the sign for "water," then pretend to wash something.
TO BURN: Make the sign
for "fire," then show what burned or was destroyed by fire. If the
object has been completely consumed by fire, make the sign for "exterminated."
TO CHOOSE: This is
a very simple and much used sign. Simply point the right index finger
the direction of the person or thing referred to.
TO DO, TO MAKE: Make the sign for "work."
TO GIVE: Raise the
opened right hand towards the side. Then point it forward and then
upwards to should height. Then move it outwards and down.
TO HOLD: Turn the palms
of both hands, with the fingers joined together, towards the chest.
Then interlace the tips of the right fingers with those of the left hand, so that nothing can get
through. Then separate the hands, keeping them in the position they were in, and move the right
hand to the right and the left to the left, moving the shoulders and elbows at the same time.
TO HUNT: Make the sign
for "wolf." Then bring both hands near the eyes and spread them out
towards each side.
TO SEARCH: Make the sign for "wolf."
TO TAKE: Thrust the
right hand rapidly forward, with the fingers closed except for the index
finger which is pointing. Then close the hand in the direction of the body, making the gesture of
bringing something to you.
TO WALK: If persons
are involved, hold the hands open, side by side, against the front of the
chest, fingers together, palms down. Move the right hand forward describing an oval. Now do
the same with the left hand. When the let hand nears the bottom of the oval, bring the right hand
up behind it and start over again. If animals are involved make the sign with both hands
COLD: Bend your body
slightly forward, close your hands and hold them at chest level.
your hands and forearms tremble, as if you have a chill.
CORN (MAIZE): Hold
the left hand horizontally, thumb and index finger extended, to symbolize
an ear of maize. Then rub these two fingers with the right thumb and index finger.
EARTH (also used to mean
territory): Extend the hands horizontally and raise them to chest
level about 7 inches apart. Then slowly lower them together to mid-thigh height.
FIRE: Place the right
hand in front of the body, fingers nearly closed. Then raise the
gradually, spreading the fingers. Do this over two or three times.
FLOWER: Make the sign
for "grass" at waist level. Make a wide circle out of the thumbs
index fingers of both hands. Hold the hands so that the little fingers are touching.
FOREST: Hold both hands
8 inches the shoulders, with the backs out, thumbs and fingers
extended. Slowly raise them a bit to indicate growth. Extend the right hand towards the right,
then bring back to the front, to indicate a wide expanse.
GRASS: Hold both hands
palms up, fingers raised, fairly close to the ground. Then raise
arms, shaking the hands slightly as you raise them.
HOT (as in weather):
Place the palms behind the head, a short distance away from it. Then
bring both hands forward so that they are in front of the head.
LAKE: Make the sign
for "water," then with the thumbs and index fingers of both hands, trace
incomplete circle about 8 inches in diameter. Finish by shaking the wrists, with the fingertips
MOON: (referring to
both the satellite and the months) Extend the thumb and index finger
of the left hand, with the other fingers closed, palm facing the person addressed, who sees
something resembling a crescent. Then make the sign for "night" and finish by pointing to the
place where the moon is supposed to be.
RAIN: Hold both hands
closed very high above the head, about 8 inches apart. Lower them
slowly, opening them as you do so, until the fingers are all opened out when you reach the level
of the waist. Repeat this slowly tow or three times.
SUN: Make an incomplete
circle with the index finger and thumb of the left hand. Then extend
the hand towards the east and describe a curve moving west.
THUNDER: Make the signs
for "bird" and "fire." Then raise the right hand slightly in front
head and above it. (Indians believed that thunder was produced by the Thunderbirds.)
TORNADO: Make the signs
for "wind" and "attack."
WATER: Cup the right
hand just in front of the mouth, fingers aimed to the left and raised up.
Then make the sign for lake or watercourse.
the right arm, hand out, index finger pointing, the other fingers
closed. Then bring the hand back as far as the shoulder.
WIND: Hold both hands
horizontally in front of the chest, palms down, fingers together and
pointing forward. Move both hands forward, shaking them to symbolize the blowing of the wind.
BISON: Hold both hands
closed, with only the index finger pointing, and thumbs touching the
joints of the middle fingers. Bring the hands to both sides of the head at the level of the temples
and raise them slightly until the wrists are above the head. Then gently move them forward.
BIRD: Place the hands
horizontally at shoulder level, palms down. Imitate the beating of
wings. If it concerns small birds, wave the hands briskly. For large birds wave them more
DEER: Symbolize the
animal's antlers by holding the hands on either side of the head with the
HORSE: Raise the right
palm obliquely in front of the left side of the chest. To make the
more forceful, some tribes put the left index and middle fingers astride the right hand.
WOLF: Hold the right
hand at shoulder level, index and middle fingers pointed and spread,
other fingers together. Then move the hand on a slant in front of you. This also the sign for
To Part 4