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Sign Language, Indigenous

  • By: Jeffrey Davis
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

The United Nations estimates that there are 370 million indigenous people spread across 70 countries around the world possessing cultural traditions, knowledge, and languages that are uniquely distinct from the modern nation-states that they inhabit. The vast range of cultural and linguistic diversity of indigenous peoples makes it difficult to define the term indigenous. Generally, the term is defined as the descendants of those who inhabited a geographical region or country at the time when people of different nations, cultures, or ethnic origins arrived. The new arrivals later became dominant through conquest, colonization, settlement, or a variety of other means. This entry centers on American indigenous communities in which a significant number of Native members (deaf and/or hearing) use a traditional type of sign language ...

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