We found this great story article on http://www.ravallirepublic.com written by Donna Healy and wanted to share it with you.

Loretha (Rising Sun) Grinsell is fluent in a language few people understand, a language without spoken words.

Grinsell, who is deaf, grew up on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation using Plains Indian sign language to communicate with her foster grandmother.

She relied exclusively on “hand talk” until she went to school at age 9 and learned the more commonly used American Sign Language.

She uses the Plains Indian signs, interspersed with ASL, to communicate with her cousin, James Wooden Legs, who became deaf from a fever during a bout with spinal meningitis as an infant. Like Grinsell, Wooden Legs learned Plains Indian sign language before he went off to the school.

Today, Grinsell knows about 10 sign-talkers in the Northern Cheyenne Tribe who are fluent and another 20 who can communicate on a basic level using sign language.

Along the Great Plains of North America, stretching from Canada into Mexico, Plains Indian sign language was once the lingua franca, the common language among tribes speaking at least 40 different languages.

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