Dr T, I was just surprised you let such a naff link through. Your new link sounds far more authoritative and convincing. I wouldn’t have sneered if you’d posted this one originally. How was I to know they had sign language? I am not a professional linguist; indeed I am a tyro, especially regarding the Americas which is why so many of my posts are about American usage. I always got the impression you enjoyed unearthing stuff from the internet (maybe even regarding it as a challenge), most of which is fascinating, as are related posts adding to our store of knowledge. Nothing I googled about ‘heap’ dug up what you managed with an OED2 online subscription.
I have ‘time constraints’ too.
Betraying my ignorance again - was there much intermarriage and therefore bilingualism? ie recognising in a ‘primitive’ way the dangers of inbreeding in an isolated tribe (as mentioned in my Michener Eskimo reference earlier)? Or was the gene pool large enough?
Dr T’s link also has mention of the Sioux Nation and this prompted to look up ‘nation’ in an Amerindian sense with little joy:
“3 : a tribe or federation of tribes (as of American Indians)” - MW.
“3. a member tribe of an American Indian confederation.” -dictionary.com
So it seems to be modern NAs adopting a convenient English word for lack of a common inter-tribal one?