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 was only the first time we visited Gordon at his shop the second time was with the gracious organizer extraordinaire of Indigenous Ink Terry Klavenes a Tongan tattoo artists who is working at bringing the motifs and designs from his Tongan heritage into his tattoo work.
During our second visit we happened to be there during the raising of Gordon’s new sign outside of his shop, which warranted an impromptu celebration that included some of New Zealand seafood. One of these “delicacies” is Kina, which are sea urchin eggs, I tried them once and that will be the only time I put these in my mouth. After trying a few of the things offered I thoroughly enjoyed my order of fish and chips.
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.
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.
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.
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
been awhile since I posted anything here, I have been meaning to post something about ym friend Lars Krutak’s new book. It is an amazing resource for anyone interested in Indigenous tattooing, and especially for any Indigenous people looking for information on their ancestral tattooing practices. I got my copy earlier this summer and took some pics of me with the book for Lars facebook page.
Here is a picture of me proudly holding my signed copy from Lars.
The following is an excerpt from the book showing the section that I am featured in.
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.