When I began this journey in my Indigenous historical Perspectives class, near the end of my research I came across the work and journey of Alethea Arnaquq-Baril who has created the documentary “Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit Tattoos”. When I found out about her documentary and journey it was exciting to see others are beginning the same journey I am on. I can’t wait to see her documentary. Here is a short introduction to it I found on Youtube.
In this short clip Sulu’ape Steve talks about how for many of his clients who are part of the Samoan diaspora, which has taken many Samoan people out of Samoa and planted them all across the West Coast of the United States and especially in Hawaii, that to get a Samoan influenced tattoo is a way of identifying with the culture. It is a mark of Identity for these Indigenous Samoan people, check it out, it a neat clip.
This example encourages me on my journey, for it is important to provide culturally significant ways for urban Indigenous peoples like my self to identify with our culture.
In the Hangover Part 2 one of the main characters Stu wakes up with a tattoo on his face resembling the one on the face of Ex Boxing Champ Mike Tyson. The American tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill claimed that the tattoo presented in the movie was so close to the one he tattooed on Tyson that it was an infringement of Intellectual property rights. I believe there is certainly some issues that need to be resolved around Intellectual property rights involving modern tattooing practices, but I believe the issues get a little bit more difficult when it come to the tattooing practices of Indigenous peoples and cultures.
I found a sense of purpose and freedom to explore this topic when I first read through, well maybe not the first time, but as I looked through the UN DRIP, in particular as I read through such articles as eleven section one which states:
“Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.”