Nlaka’pamux Tattoo Festival 2020

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

Welcome to the third post outlining the skeleton of my Long Term Project Grant “Taking Nlaka’pamux Tattooing to the World.” Last week I shared with you the first of five overlapping projects, this week I will share with you one of the key portions of my grant proposal. The sharing of this knowledge with my community by bringing friends and colleagues to my ancestral community to tattoo over the course of a weekend, in my grant I term this enacting community responsibilities.

Beginning in 2015, I have worked with a small group of Nlaka’pamux community members, and we have organized three small community tattooing events. During the first two years of this grant, we will host two larger community cultural tattooing actions. These cultural tattooing events will be held over the course of a weekend, at which I and five or six colleagues will tattoo between three to five community members each with ancestral markings. These gatherings are part of my ethical protocols of reciprocity and community building. Over the past seven years I have spent a great deal of time within the larger movement to revive Indigenous tattooing across Canada and feel a pull to devote more time to my ancestral community. These gatherings will be planned with community members in locations that will allow for camping facilities for visiting community. 

These two events will be documented via video. I will be hiring a videographer, so the footage can be used for future multi-media installations, including at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in the final year of this project. The documentation of these events will also include interviews with those wishing to share what the tattoo they received means to them. I will also interview other community members and elders who are willing to share what the revival of Nlaka’pamux tattooing means to them and the community.

For the event, a photographer will be hired to take professional portraits of the community members I have tattooed in the past or who are currently being tattooed. The photographs will be curated into a small community exhibition on Nlaka’pamux tattooing at The Nicola Valley Institute of Technology. This exhibition will include a public lecture and discussion panel featuring cultural tattoo practitioners from Indigenous nations across Turtle Island. Photographs of prior work on Nlaka’pamux tattoo revival and historic references will be included. The exhibition will be composed of video and two-dimensional works. This exhibition will be held in the third and final year of the larger project to be able to include as much relevant material as possible.

Next week I will be sharing with you how this grant will support a research and creation process, which I have desired to undertake for a long, time, the creation of traditional bone tools and inks.

See you next week.

I acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

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