ARROW:  Bring the left hand close to the chest, with the index finger and thumb forming a ring
(as though holding a bow).  Grasp the ring with the right hand and make the motion of pulling
back a bowstring.

BASKET:  Make the sign for "kettle," then wiggle the fingers to suggest the action of basket-

BLANKET:  Close both hands and draw them up to the shoulders, as though pulling a blanket up
on you.  Then move the right hand towards the left and the left towards the right so that the arms
cross and the right hand is closer to the body.  Stop when the two wrists come into contact.

BOAT:  Bring your hands together in a cup to represent the hull of a ship.  Then move them
forward to indicate travel.  If a canoe is meant, make the gesture for paddling.  If a rowboat,
pretend to row.

DRUM:  First arrange both hands to simulate the shape of a drum.  Keep the left hand in place
and motionless and use the right hand as a drumstick.  Pretend to strike the drum several times.

KETTLE:  Form an incomplete circle with both hands, the index fingers touching but not the
thumbs.  Drop the right hand and make the motion of lifting by passing it underneath.  With the
left hand, pretend to grasp a handle.

MONEY:  Hold the right hand halfway up the chest, with the thumb and index finger forming an
incomplete circle.  This is the same as the sign or "medal."  Indians were very fond of medals
and the whites bestowed medals abundantly on them in order to gain their confidence and favor.

TOBACCO:  Hold the left hand open, palm up, fingers together.  Place the edge of the right
hand on the left palm.  With the fleshy part of the right hand, rub the left palm in a circular
manner, as though picking up bits of tobacco.


CLOTHING, COSTUME:  Place your hands flat against the upper part of the chest and move
them down to just below the waist.

COLOR:  Rub the fingertips of the right hand in a circular pattern on the back of the left hand.
Usually after making the sign, you point to an object having this color.

MOCCASINS:  Bend over so that you can touch your lower legs.  Then place your hands flat
against the shins, palms in, with the thumbs and index fingers pointing down and the other
fingers squeezing the sides of the legs.

TATTOOED:  Press several times with the right fingertips on the spot where the tattoo is.  If it is
on the right arm, use the left fingertips.

WAR PAINT:  Rub the right cheek in a circular motion with the tips of the right fingers.


TO GO:  Hold the right hand near the chest, palm up, fingers together and extended.  Then
move the hand briskly towards the person addressed.

TO RIDE A HORSE:  Make the sign for "horse."  Then move the hands forward, making a
succession of small curves.

TRACK:  Make the sign for "to walk" and then point to the ground.

WALK:  If people are involved, hold the hands in front of the chest, side by side, palms down
and fingers extended and held together.  Then describe an oval in the air with your right hand.
Do the same with the left hand.  When the left hand is down, move the right hand over it and
begin again.  If animals are involved, do the gestures with the hands joined.


TO CAPTURE:  Clutch your shoulders with your hands.  Then, with closed fists, cross your wrists
in front of your body.

TO DIE, DEATH:  Hold the right hand vertically, palm turned towards the chest.  Hold the left
hand under the right, with the left index finger pointing towards the right hand.  Move the left
hand forward, passing it under the right hand, describing a slight curve.

ESCAPE:  Close both hands and place one wrist on the other.  Then separate them with an
abrupt gesture, thrusting the left hand to the left side and the right hand to the right side.  Then
make the sign "to go."

 TO EXTERMINATE:  Place the inner edge of the left hand on the chest, with the palm up.  Then
tap the left hand with the right hand.

TO FIGHT:  Hold your hands tightly clenched and slightly in front of you, at shoulder level.  Then
move them briskly towards the person addressed.  Repeat this several times.

FRIEND:  Raise the right hand to shoulder level, with the index and middle fingers extended
upwards and held together, and with the other fingers closed.

PEACE:  Place the hands in front of the chest, with the left palm turned up.

WAR:  Clench both fists at your sides at waist level.  Then move them up and forward.

WOUND, WOUNDED:  With the index finger of the right hand, touch the chest just above the


TO CONDUCT BUSINESS; TO NEGOTIATE:  Hold both forearms raised, hands closed, index
fingers pointing up.  Then lower the hands together, passing them in front of the chest.

DECISION:  Hold the left hand open, palm up.  Place the right hand vertically above the left
moving it up from the side of the waist rapidly.

END, TO FINISH:  Hold the left hand vertically on the left side of chest, fingers held together
and pointing up.  Then rapidly lower the right hand, held open, letting it graze the tips of the left
fingers in passing.

TO EXCHANGE, TRADE:  Place both hands at shoulder level, index fingers pointing up.  Lower
the hands and pass one hand in front of the other, describing a quarter circle.

TO EXPLAIN:  Hold the right hand open, at mouth level, with palm up and fingers spread.  Then,
keeping the wrist stationary, pivot the hand to the right.

GIVE ME:  Extend the right hand forward in a gesture of asking for something.  Then bring it
towards the shoulder.

HOW MUCH?:  With fingers outstretched and palm down, hold the left hand at neck level at a 45
degree angle towards the right hand, which is held slightly forward of the left.  Then, with the
index finger of the right hand, tap the left little finger, then the other left fingers.  As each finger is
touched, it curls under.


GOOD-BYE:  Make the sign for "future."

TO KNOW:  Hold the right hand on the right side of the chest at the level of the heart, with
thumb and index finger extended.  Then move the hand slightly upwards and outwards.  With a
wrist movement pivot the hand until the palm is turned up, the thumb and index finger still
extended and the other fingers closed.  At this point the thumb should be pointing up and the
index finger pointing to the left.

MISTAKE:  Hold both hands open, parallel to one another, palms facing.  Then slide the right
hand under the left as though hiding something there.

NOT, CAN NOT:  Raise the right hand obliquely (slanted with fingers together) a short distance
in front of the chest.  Point the right index finger towards the middle of your left side.  Then move
the right index finger forward until it comes into contact with the palm of the left hand.  In
anticipation of this contact the left hand has been vertically turned towards the chest.  Finally,
pull the right index finger briskly back.

PLEASE:  Hold the right hand against the chest.  Move it down slowly towards the ground, palm
up.  Done in reverse, this sign means "give me."

THANK YOU:  Extend both open hands, palms down, in a forward direction.  Then lower them
as far as possible.

TO WISH:  Turn to the side and close your left hand, leaving the index finger only partly curled.
Bring the hand to the mouth and touch the lips, then firmly lower the hand towards the ground.
This sign is also used to mean "energy" and "I wish."

YES:  Place the back of the right hand on the right side of the chest near the shoulder.  The
index finger is extended; the other fingers are closed, the thumb resting on the middle finger.
Move the hand slightly to the left, at the same time closing the index finger over the thumb.


PALEFACE, WHITE PERSON:  With the right hand held horizontally, palm down, in front of the
forehead at the level of the eyebrows.  Then move it to the right.

BLACK RACE, AFRICAN-AMERICAN:  Make the sign for "Paleface."  Then point to something
black.  Native Americans usually pointed to their own eyebrows or hair.

HE, SHE, YOU:  Point with the right index finger in the direction of the person referred to.

PEOPLE:  Hold both hands at chest level, index fingers extended upwards, the tips of the
thumbs touching, the other fingers closed.  Then move each hand to its own side.  Some tribes
place both hands on the chest with the backs of the hands facing outwards.

QUARREL:  Raise the hands to neck level and hold then about 8 inches apart, index fingers
pointing up, the other fingers closed.  Then alternately move the right hand to the right and the
left hand to the left.  Repeat this several times.

TO SPEAK:  If a short conversation is involved, one in which one person is speaking to another,
press the nail