Title: The Sign Speaking

Periodical: Science Siftings

Date: July 23, 1892

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The Sign Speaking,

or the mute language of the Indian braves, whose pretty encampment is now at the "Wild West" of the Horticultural Exhibition, eclipses anything in this way we have ever seen. It is quite as expressive as anything the white man can do with his mouth. Major Burke and Mr. Crager, to a friendly chat with whom we are indebted for our information, explained some of these signs to us. Thus, the right hand is pressed over the heart, and the palm of the hand is then turned outward, and waved away from the signmaker, to express the pleasure of meeting, the significance being that the heart goes out. When the hand is pressed over the heart and the palm waved downwards, we are to understand that all is not well; but when the same performance is accompanied by an upward flourish of the hand, the idea naturally conveyed is that "things are good." We have not the space here to give details of more of these signs, but we may mention that Colonel Nate Salsbury has a book in his possession which contains over five hundred pages filled with this practical, if silent, language. We had ample evidence of its utility in sharpening the wits for general purposed. While speaking to that sturdy-looking soldier, Major Burke, a Cossack approached him and made some remark in Russian, which language neither the Major, nor that linguistic adept, Mr. Crager, is acquainted with. Major Burke's genial face was clouded for a moment, until the Cossack produced a letter and shook his coat, when the Major immediately went to his bureau and produced an envelope, to the satisfaction of the Cossack and likewise himself. Indians, we understand, will flash signals for hundreds of miles with a miserable piece of looking-glass, and Major Burke tells us that our own heliograph and heliotrope originated in this discovery of the ignorant Red man.

Title: The Sign Speaking

Periodical: Science Siftings

Source: McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody Collection, MS6, MS6.3778.098.04 (1892 London)

Date: July 23, 1892

Keywords: American Indians Communication Cossacks Exhibitions Indian sign language Indians of North America Language and languages Russian language Scrapbooks Traveling exhibitions

People: Burke, John M., -1917 Salsbury, Nathan, 1846-1902

Places: Earl's Court (London, England) London (England)

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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