UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Embodying the past in the present for the future : practicing, supporting and highlighting Indigenous tattoo revivals through Indigenous and creative research methodologies Kaszas, Dion


I began the exploration of my ancestral (Nlaka'pamux) tattooing practices as a way to learn about the things that I had been denied the ability to learn in my grandmother's home community due to the legislative violence enacted upon my family and I by the Indian Act. In this thesis I will share the story of my journey moving from exploring my ancestral tattooing traditions to reviving Nlaka’pamux tattooing practices, and supporting the revival of Indigenous tattooing in Canada. The two main questions that I have sought an answer to in the pages of this research assessment portfolio are: how is a sleeping tattooing tradition awakened? And, how do I honor my Nlaka'pamux oral culture in the course of obtaining a Master of Arts degree? In answering these questions, I outline the steps that I took, what and who inspired and encouraged me, and share some of the knowledge and resources that fuelled me in the revival of Nlaka’pamux tattooing. This project looks not only at the steps and processes I took in the revival of my ancestral tattooing tradition, but I also invited four additional voices to share their journeys and their stories. They are the voices of Indigenous tattoo artists and cultural tattoo practitioners who are involved in reviving traditional tattooing practices. The combination of our stories outlines a clear narrative and logical path that can 1) support Indigenous tattoo artists as a community, 2) provide critical grounding and guidance on revival. Addressing these issues meaningfully can support education and further research for individuals and groups seeking knowledge about Indigenous tattoo revival, and 3) Move towards honoring oral culture and traditions through interdisciplinary methods, theory, and representation. This exploration of Indigenous tattoo revival has been undertaken using Nlaka’pamux, Indigenous and creative research methodologies. This thesis sought to indigenize my academic and tattooing practice.

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