As an Nlaka’pamux cultural tattoo practitioner I have had the benefit and honor of helping in the revival efforts of many Indigenous nations across Canada as I travel and share the gifts I have been given. A simple question at my Earth Line Tattooing Action at the Gallery 101 exhibition opening of “Owning with the Gaze,” in October 2015 curated by Cheryl L’Hirondelle sparked my thinking, which has manifested into the first Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency. Rachelle Dickenson asked that pivotal question as she sat and chatted with me as she received her skin stitch Earth Line. It was a simple question in the context of the conversation around my work in reviving Indigenous tattooing in Canada, “What is next?” My reply came, “I need to figure out how to teach others how to do what I do.”
This tattoo festival brought together some of the most outstanding indigenous tattoo artists from around the world. The festival reunited old ancestral ties between the pacific rim cultures as well as interior tribes. The festival was a rare and fantastic platform for indigenous tattoo revivals to be recognized and encouraged out of the history books they previously had been kept in. The unification of like spirited tattooers from around the world lifted our morale and raised the standard of what tattoo festivals should look like.
In Ottawa Ontario, Canada from October 31st to November 28th at Gallery 101, an art exhibition curated by Cheryl L’Hirondelle entitled, “Owning With the Gaze” featured works by Millie Chen, Leah Decter, Stephen Foster, Ayumi Goto, Suzanne Morrissette, Lisa Myers and myself. At the opening of this exhibition on October 31st I performed my first “Earth line tattooing action” from 6-10pm. This blog post will outline where the idea for this performance emerged and share some of my thoughts, feelings, emotions and insights that have come to my consciousness since that date a little over a month ago.
The art of skin stitch tattooing is one my ancestors practiced for generations and it is coming back to life one stitch at a time, here is a short video documenting me sewing a tattoo on a friend of mine Cody. Enjoy and stay tuned for more videos and more posts.
One of the greatest gifts I have been given by the creator is the gift of tattooing, and with that gift I also have a responsibility to share it. This is a video documenting the revival of Nlaka’pamux skin stitch tattooing. The top design incorporates an earth line and trees, and the lower design is a river and its banks. The earth line is a motif that was commonly found on our upper garments. For me the earth line is a constant reminder of our relationship to, and the dependence on, the earth and all that is. Being reminded, in that moment our responsibility to this world bubbles to the surface of our consciousness. The earthline is there to bring us all back to our Indigeneity (living in a sustainable way). Check it out!
I have finally finished editing my short documentary Indigenous Ink, I created this in one of my classes, in it I talk with friends and family about their tattoos, sometimes while we are in the process of tattooing. I plan on doing a few more of these type of projects in the future. Enjoy
I watched this short piece done by CTV awhile ago but haven’t passed it on to those who might be interested in the story that is told about the revival of Haida Tattooing and the work of Gregory Williams.
It is a great video highlighting some of the history associated with the putting to sleep of this great tattooing tradition, most notably in the case of the Haida as the film presents is the Potlatch laws. I loved seeing how Gregory is waking up this sleeping tradition.
I am just starting to update this blog with some of the work I have been doing since I started my masters degree at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. This is a teaser trailer for a mini doc I produced as part of the class “Digital Filmmaking for activists and scholars”. It was the first time I did any sort of video editing, recording of interviews etc. I am cleaning up the final project and will be posting it within the next few weeks.