In honor of Native American Heritage Month, the Billings Public Library is presenting a talk by Ron Garritson, an expert in Plains Indian Sign Language.

His talk focusing on the language and the preservation efforts surrounding it will be presented on Friday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m.

The informative and entertaining talk is co-sponsored by The Friends of the Library as part of the Friday Night Fun series, and will begin in the Community Room at 7 p.m. 

Garritson is a fourth-generation Montanan, born and raised in Billings. He grew up near the Crow Indian Reservation and became an adopted member of the Beads Don't Mix family of the Big Lodge Clan. He began learning the Plains Indian Sign Language in the mid-1970s from the Crow, and today is counted among one of the most fluent Indian Sign Language speakers in the country, with a vocabulary more than 1,700 signs.

He served as a guide and interpreter for the Plains Indian Sign Language Digital Field Research Project in 2009 and in 2010 he taught in the MSUB Native American Studies Department as an adjunct professor.

Garritson was the recipient of the 2010 Yellowstone Western Heritage Center's Eugene T. Carroll Historic Preservation award for his work on the preservation of the Plains Indian Sign Language and is currently in pre-production of an in-depth instructional video of the PISL. His mission is the preserve and maintain the Plains Indian Sign Language for future generations.

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Entertainment Reporter

Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.