The sign language of the Native Americans is ancient, beautiful, captivating. It has so much power and energy. At some point you fall under her magnetism and you understand what is at stake on the subconscious level. Unfortunately now fewer and fewer people speak this language. Of course, we use many gestures in our daily life, sometimes even without noticing this. But this is a completely different story. Because sign language is not individual movements and their meaning, it is a real language, with its rules and some grammar. For example, the object always goes first, and afterwards its various characteristics."When they tell me that sign language dies, I answer: No, it's just sleeping now"- Ron Garritson says. He owns this great language and willingly shares his knowledge. More read in his interview Sign talker Ron Garritson, a fourth generation native of Billings, Mont., is the featured speaker. A Metis of Cree, Choctaw ancestry and European heritage, he was adopted by families of the Crow and Gros Ventre Nations and grew up on and around the Crow Indian Reservation. For the past 30 years, Garritson has been on a personal mission to preserve, restore and maintain the Plains Indian Sign Language. JBN: How many languages do you speak? Ron Garritson: I am not fluent in any particular spoken language other that American English. But I grew up in an environment that included the English, German, Yiddish, Italian, Spanish, and Crow Languages. I have learned to speak a bit in each language but not fluently. JBN: How you become interesting in sign language? Ron Garritson: I became interested in the Plains Indian Sign Language when I was in high school when I saw my Crow friends and Crow Elders using it. JBN: What do you love about sign language? Ron Garritson: What I love about the Plains Indian Sign Language is the beauty and gracefulness of the hands when it is used. Also the energy that flows through the hands. JBN: How long time it takes to learn it? Ron Garritson: The length of time it takes to learn depends on the person and their interest in it. I have been studying it for over 40 years and though I have a vocabulary of around 1700 signs, I am still learning, but a person can become well versed in the sign talk in about a year if they are dedicated to learning it and practice diligently. JBN: If someone wants to learn that language where he or she can do it? Ron Garritson: If a person wishes to learn sign talk, there are sites on-line, YouTube, books (William Tomkins "Indian Sign Language", and W.P. Clark "Plains Indian Sign Language".) But the best way is first hand from someone that is fluent in the sign talk. JBN: Do you think that sign language has chance to survive? Ron Garritson: Yes, I believe the sign talk has a chance to survive, but only if people take interest to learn it and pass it on to others, like other languages and traditions. JBN: what we need to do to save that language Ron Garritson: We need to bring attention to the fact that the sign talk is an endangered Native American Language and that it is a vital and important part of the American Indian Culture that must be preserved, and that it needs to be taught in the schools and colleges in every Native American community. JBN: Tell please few interesting facts about sign language Ron Garritson: The sign talk is easy to learn. It is universal, logical and naturally descriptive in it's form and does not require forming alphabetical letters. Word association is a great way to help remember the signs as well, that is to say, the way the sign is used in relation to what you are trying to say, for example the sign for "Tree". The way you hold your hand up vertically with the palm facing the front and the fingers spread open, it is obvious that the message you are trying to express is a tree. The same goes for the sign for "Rabbit" as you compress your hand horizontally, make the moving motion of the animal you are indicating and from the same hand stick upward the index and middle finger to indicate the form of the rabbit. Keep in mind though that some signs can be a bit more complex, but in general it is mostly descriptive. JBN: Maybe you will tell few examples of misunderstanding between French (or other Europeans) and Indian because of sign language) Ron Garritson: A simple and common mis-interpretation of certain signs have been made which resulted in the mis-translation errors that have occurred. For example when the French met the Shoshone Indians, the latter in order to identify themselves by sign made the motion of a fish swimming, to which the French mis-took for "Snake" due to the movement of the hand in a "slithering" motion, thus the Shoshone became known as the "Snake Indians". With the Gros Ventre Indians, the French mis-took the sign they made for waterfall as "Big Belly", Thus resulting in this tribe being called the Gros Ventre or Big Belly Indians. JBN: Most exited situations when you used sign language) Ron Garritson: The most excited I have been is when ever I get the opportunity to speak sign with another sign talker, or translate for someone as in the case when I was the interpreter between a non-signer and a hearing impaired sign talker. Also when I am giving an inter-active presentation. JBN: Where people can read or start to know more about you Ron Garritson: People can read about me on line. Just type in Ron Garritson Plains Indian Sign Language and several things will pop up pertaining to the work I have done and presentations I have given. I also have a Facebook page called Plains Indian Sign Language where I often post videos, photos and other information on this subject.
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Ron Garritson: What I love about the Plains Indian Sign Language is the beauty and gracefulness of the hands when it is used
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The sign language of the Native Americans is ancient, beautiful, captivating. It has so much power and energy. At some point you fall under her magnetism and you understand what is at stake on the subconscious level. Unfortunately now fewer and fewer people speak this language. Of course, we use many gestures in our daily life, sometimes even without noticing this. But this is a completely different story. Because sign language is not individual movements and their meaning, it is a real language, with its rules and some grammar. For example, the object always goes first, and afterwards its various characteristics."When they tell me that sign language dies, I answer: No, it's just sleeping now"- Ron Garritson says. He owns this great language and willingly shares his knowledge. More read in his interview Sign talker Ron Garritson, a fourth generation native of Billings, Mont., is the featured speaker. A Metis of Cree, Choctaw ancestry and European heritage, he was adopted by families of the Crow and Gros Ventre Nations and grew up on and around the Crow Indian Reservation. For the past 30 years, Garritson has been on a personal mission to preserve, restore and maintain the Plains Indian Sign Language. JBN: How many languages do you speak? Ron Garritson: I am not fluent in any particular spoken language other that American English. But I grew up in an environment that included the English, German, Yiddish, Italian, Spanish, and Crow Languages. I have learned to speak a bit in each language but not fluently. JBN: How you become interesting in sign language? Ron Garritson: I became interested in the Plains Indian Sign Language when I was in high school when I saw my Crow friends and Crow Elders using it. JBN: What do you love about sign language? Ron Garritson: What I love about the Plains Indian Sign Language is the beauty and gracefulness of the hands when it is used. Also the energy that flows through the hands. JBN: How long time it takes to learn it? Ron Garritson: The length of time it takes to learn depends on the person and their interest in it. I have been studying it for over 40 years and though I have a vocabulary of around 1700 signs, I am still learning, but a person can become well versed in the sign talk in about a year if they are dedicated to learning it and practice diligently. JBN: If someone wants to learn that language where he or she can do it? Ron Garritson: If a person wishes to learn sign talk, there are sites on-line, YouTube, books (William Tomkins "Indian Sign Language", and W.P. Clark "Plains Indian Sign Language".) But the best way is first hand from someone that is fluent in the sign talk. JBN: Do you think that sign language has chance to survive? Ron Garritson: Yes, I believe the sign talk has a chance to survive, but only if people take interest to learn it and pass it on to others, like other languages and traditions. JBN: what we need to do to save that language Ron Garritson: We need to bring attention to the fact that the sign talk is an endangered Native American Language and that it is a vital and important part of the American Indian Culture that must be preserved, and that it needs to be taught in the schools and colleges in every Native American community. JBN: Tell please few interesting facts about sign language Ron Garritson: The sign talk is easy to learn. It is universal, logical and naturally descriptive in it's form and does not require forming alphabetical letters. Word association is a great way to help remember the signs as well, that is to say, the way the sign is used in relation to what you are trying to say, for example the sign for "Tree". The way you hold your hand up vertically with the palm facing the front and the fingers spread open, it is obvious that the message you are trying to express is a tree. The same goes for the sign for "Rabbit" as you compress your hand horizontally, make the moving motion of the animal you are indicating and from the same hand stick upward the index and middle finger to indicate the form of the rabbit. Keep in mind though that some signs can be a bit more complex, but in general it is mostly descriptive. JBN: Maybe you will tell few examples of misunderstanding between French (or other Europeans) and Indian because of sign language) Ron Garritson: A simple and common mis-interpretation of certain signs have been made which resulted in the mis-translation errors that have occurred. For example when the French met the Shoshone Indians, the latter in order to identify themselves by sign made the motion of a fish swimming, to which the French mis-took for "Snake" due to the movement of the hand in a "slithering" motion, thus the Shoshone became known as the "Snake Indians". With the Gros Ventre Indians, the French mis- took the sign they made for waterfall as "Big Belly", Thus resulting in this tribe being called the Gros Ventre or Big Belly Indians. JBN: Most exited situations when you used sign language) Ron Garritson: The most excited I have been is when ever I get the opportunity to speak sign with another sign talker, or translate for someone as in the case when I was the interpreter between a non-signer and a hearing impaired sign talker. Also when I am giving an inter-active presentation. JBN: Where people can read or start to know more about you Ron Garritson: People can read about me on line. Just type in Ron Garritson Plains Indian Sign Language and several things will pop up pertaining to the work I have done and presentations I have given. I also have a Facebook page called Plains Indian Sign Language where I often post videos, photos and other information on this subject.
Johnson’s Billings News
Sign-language
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Ron Garritson: What I love about the Plains Indian Sign Language is the beauty and gracefulness of the hands when it is used