A few years back I did a blog how one kind of American Indian Sign Language (ISL) used by deaf native American Indians was already vanishing (or it may have vanished by now) because, ironically so, young deaf Native American Indians were forced to use or in this case had no recourse but to communicate in ASL at deaf residential schools they were sent to. And by doing so they gradually lost an important identity and Indian heritage when Indian Sign Language was passed on down through generations. A sign language that was used by both deaf and hearing Indians within their own community or tribe. This disappearance was an unplanned but systematic move over time by a predominately white Deaf culture and community where ASL gradually overtook their ISL preferences even though historically many of the signs in ASL today were derived from or have similar signs seen in Native American ISL.
Below is a passage on how ASL (supposedly the 3rd or 4th most popular language in the U.S. - a highly dubious claim.), English (number one language in the U.S.), and American Deaf culture have helped erode the Keresan Pueblo Indian Sign Language (KPISL) in New Mexico into extinction already. A native Indian sign language used by both deaf and hearing Keresan Pueblo indians.
KPISL is not much used among the pueblo’s younger generation owing to their learning school English, ASL, or signs that follow the spoken English word order. Before the 1990s, American Indian Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing tribal members usually left home to attend a residential school for the deaf located far away. At the school, there was usually no formal instruction of American Indian or American Indian culture and signs; only Deaf culture and ASL were taught, leading many American Indian students to join the “Deaf World.” After graduation, the students had to make difficult decisions about where and how to establish themselves: on the pueblos with hearing families and friends, in urban areas with other Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing people, or in border towns with limited access to both groups.Now, I'm curious.
English has now become the dominant language for many Pueblo Indians. Its use, as well as continued contact with and influences of the dominant culture, has served to erode some of the traditions and values of the Pueblo Indian culture. As a result, KPISL, a valuable piece of American Indian heritage, may be slipping into extinction as well.
Has Mr. Edwin Black actually discussed native American Indian tribes and their culture throughout the U.S. and how they were essentially but systematically "eliminated" in favor of having them integrate into a predominately white culture and English language at his lecture in California to willing Deaf audience? Did he also discuss the eradication of the Keresan Pueblo Indian Sign Language with the help of a predominantly white Deaf culture in favor of ASL along with English, too? Noticed the eerie similarity?
A challenge to the great Mr. Edwin Black, the "eugenics expert."
If you truly think ASL, the Deaf community and culture are in danger of going "extinct" or "eradicated" anytime soon by means of eugenics then best pay attention to the plight of KPISL first which was pushed aside in favor of ASL, English and, ironically, by a pre-dominantly white Deaf culture world. For all we know now it's probably an extinct Indian sign language and Deaf/hearing Indian culture by now a la the "Martha Vineyard" of the southwest. After all, you are the proclaimed "eugenics expert" and should have no problem in writing the next few eugenics articles on Indian Sign Languages used by deaf Native American Indian people and how such a language disappeared in favor of ASL. This is almost exactly how our English language and culture helped nearly destroy North American Indians’ own heritage, language and culture by forcing them to learn English and have them assimilate into American culture in order for them to “survive.” Not quite the Spanish Inquistion led by the great and cruel Torquemada. Yet they did survive and many of these North American Indian culture and heritage remain intact, even growing allowing them to pass on their heritage to the next generation. The forcing of Deaf North American Indians use ASL away from ISL could be seen as doing the same selfish act. And end up abandoning their own ISL for the sake of integration with the rest of the Deaf culture and community. The irony is overwhelming here considering what has happened with the Keresan Pueblo Indian Sign Language and the eugenics lip service on the so-called quickly disappearing Deaf culture, community and ASL.
What is rather disengenuous is to use emotionally laden words by Mr. Black such as "Eugenics – From California to Auschwitz, Implications for the Deaf Community" in the effort to appeal to emotions from the people of California. That's really reaching, not to mention doing the whole nine yards using Godwin's Law.
Now, folks. I could be wrong. Perhaps Mr. Edwin Black is truly concerned about the plight of a disappearing Deaf community, sign language and culture which has grown from few tens of thousands during the Martha Vineyard era of the mid- 1800s to now probably close to a million Deaf people in the United States today. General rule of thumb of my own is that the Deaf population accounts about 1/33rd of the current general population size and apply that ratio to any population year but it probably becomes an increasingly rough estimate going further back in time. With nearly a million Deaf people today using the 3rd most popular language in the United States I suppose all that is considered a vanishing act to Mr. Black for his podium thumping lectures on eugenics. Maybe he's seeing this an opportunity to push his books and stir his name into this pot of mess and gain a bit of notoriety and name reconition in the process? Free publicity I suppose. Who knows what his real agenda and feelings are but it's rather curious to use eugenics as a mean to help stop the AB2072 bill and put it out of existence. All in all this bill is a good bill and it will pass. As for the title of my blog? I'm making a point here if that's of any help.