Indigenous identity and tattooing?

At the heart of my research is my struggle as an urban indigenous person of mixed ancestry, who wants to locate my sense of self and belonging.

The question of identity in this context is one that is plagued by centuries of colonial genocide on the Indigenous peoples of the America’s and the world over. The reclaiming of an indigenous identity has been necessitated by the following but not limited to them,  legislative policies of colonial governments, policies which include residential schools, the arbitrary legal right to tell indigenous peoples who indigenous peoples are, and land theft.  As well as the continued colonial mythology of the tests of authenticity and primordiality.


Revival of indigenous tattooing practices strongly connects me with the struggle for recognized land title and land claim, along with other indigenous rights such as hunting and fishing rights. This connection is drawn when I consider how the tattooing was done, and in what context.

The revival of Nlaka’pamux tattooing is a process of decolonization, it is a struggle to anchor my sense of self as Nlaka’pamux, and to help others in their struggle to identify as Indigenous peoples. It is a struggle to free myself from the hegemonic ideals of beauty, and to assert my right to self identify as an indigenous person as outlined in the UN DRIP.

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