Week Two of the Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency
The second week of the Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency was spent learning about the relationship between Indigenous tattoo revival and land. At the most basic level our identity in North America is steeped in legislation that is designed to erase our identity and with it our rights to the very land that the nation states of Canada and the United States are inhabiting. The second is that our knowledge systems, language and visual language all come from and are informed by the land, so as I have journeyed I have always found it essential to spend time out on my territory to ground me in my place. Finally our tattoos are connected too the visual vocabulary painted and etched into the rocks of our vast territories. This is the reason I felt it necessary to take the artists involved in the Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency out onto my territory.
We took a 3 day backpacking trip hiking over 30 kilometers into the SteinValley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park.
Week One of the Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency Part 2
After a very intense and emotional first day we got down to business with an equally intense second day. During the day we looked over and did training into the most important part of the tattooing process, for me it is even more essential to the effectiveness of the revival of Indigenous tattooing and it includes knowledge and training around blood borne pathogens, cross contamination and the health aspects of tattooing.
The students worked through blood borne pathogens training and gained certification and did an intensive workshop related to the distinctive concerns associated with being a cultural tattoo practitioner and the work of ensuring everyone involved in the tattooing process is protected from any potential harm associated with the application of a tattoo.
Week One of the Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency Part 1
The first two weeks of the Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency have been absolutely mind blowing as I have been able to hear the stories of the artists in attendance Dean Hunt, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Amy Malbeuf and Jordan Bennett. These two blog posts will contain a run down of the activities and some of the lessons learned and shared over the first week and another to follow outlining the second week.
The Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency is happening as part of and running concurrently with the The Summer Indigenous Art Intensive Program which is coordinated by the Creative Studies Department at the the University of British Columbia Okanagan. It is an amazing program and this year is hosting “a core group of senior artists: Rebecca Belmore, Lori Blondeau, David Garneau, and Adrian Stimson. It will also include upward of 20 visiting studio artists in residence.”
I have had the most amazing two weeks working with and alongside the amazing artists Jordan Bennett, Jeneen Frei Njootli, Amy Malbeuf and Dean Hunt as we share our collective knowledge. This project is an outgrowth of my efforts to share my knowledge about traditional tattooing methods, the health aspects around tattooing and the power of tattoo revival.
There is a rock shelter that contains pictographs in the Stein River Valley that stands as a metaphor for my journey into understanding who I am.
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.”