This weekend, many Star Wars fans were thrilled to see The Mandalorian return to their screens. In the first episode, we watched Mando and Cobb Vanth work with Tusken Raiders to help protect Mos Pelgo. You may not have realized that the Tusken Sign Language was created by Deaf actor Troy Kotsur, who also appeared in the show.
One of the best things about the creation of the sign language was how the team for The Mandalorian sought out the help of a Deaf person. A hearing person on the team recognized that the script was calling for a sign language and looked to Troy Kotsur to help create it. This is the importance of allyship. As one tweet noted, “it’s our responsibility, when we’re in the room, to look around and see who’s missing.”
You can watch a full interview below where Troy Kotsur explains how he made the language. One of the most fascinating portions of the interview was when Kotsure explained
I did research on the culture and environment of Tusken Raiders. I researched on the desert called “sand people.” That is what Luke Skywalker calls them “sand people.” Anyway, my goal was to avoid ASL. I made sure it became Tusken Sign Language based on their culture and environment.
My personal favorite part of the interview was when Kotsur discussed his love for Star Wars.
Remember that in the year of 1977, technology was limited and accessibility for Deaf people were limited, but that Star Wars movie blew my mind. It changed my life. Why? It was like “wet-eyes” – so visual for me. For the first 5 minutes, remember the opening of that movie? The spaceships shooting, the robots, C-3P0 scrambling, and all of that overwhelmed my eyes. I watched it 28 times. I watched the movie “Star Wars: A New Hope” 28 times.
I love that Kotsur got to make an impact on the Star Wars universe the same way that it impacted him. The fact that he was able to make history for a franchise that impacted him at such a young age was incredible to me!
This makes me want to go back and watch the first episode even more. I love that The Mandalorian team let a Deaf person tell their own story and I love that the Tusken Raiders now have deeper lore. I would love to see Tusken Sign Language make its way to conventions someday!