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.
Check out Lars Krutak’s TED Talk, he does an amazing job outlining the importance of Indigenous tattoo knowledge and the need to document your nations tattooing practices. I am honoured to have been mentioned during this presentation and am thankful for the work that he has done and continues to do.
This summer I was asked to visit with a group of youth painting a mural to be placed along Highway One on the Neskonlith Indian Band, near Chase BC. This meeting was to help provide some insight into which traditional tattoos should be used in the mural. After meeting with this amazing group of Secwepemc youth and leaving some information with them I could not wait to see the mural when it was done.
After much weeping and gnashing of teeth trying to get paperwork filled out and right, so as to have my trip next week approved I became a little obsessed with my archival research and almost didn’t stop staring into the computer monitor. I have updated the website and found many new examples of Inuit and Algonquian tattooing. I have not found any Nlaka’pamux tattoo examples but am enjoying bringing these resources forward to help other Indigenous peoples reclaim their traditional tattoos.
I am just beginning my second week of research project that is searching for primary source documents of my ancestors tattooing practices, the Nlaka’pamux. As I search the online archives it has been proving difficult to find specific photos that reference my ancestors I have uncovered as few that are records of other nations. I am hopeful that when I get into the actual physical local archives that some more things will surface, I will be posting more pictures as I find them here is a painting done by George Catlin of a Sioux woman with chin tattoos.
While searching the BC Archives digitized photos under the keyword Indian I found this amazing photo of a Kootenai woman with facial tattoos. I’m so pumped to be able to bring these photos out of the archives for all to enjoy and hopefully educate people about the tattooing traditions that have existed here in North America.
I’m so excited to have been awarded an Undergraduate Research Award which means I will be spending my summer researching Nlaka’pamux tattooing and being paid to do this research. I will be spending many hours searching and looking through photos at Museums and Archives as well as reading journals written by settlers, missionaries, fur traders etc to look for any evidence of early tattooing accounts.