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Sticking to tradition: Indigenous tattoo revival –

Posted in Tattooing on Jul 30, 2017

Dion Kaszas has been getting under people’s skin for nearly a decade. Now he’s helping to foster the revival of Indigenous tattooing practices.

Last year, Kaszas started Earthline TattooSchool with the hopes he could help Indigenous people strengthen connections to their culture.

“We are losing a lot of people because they’ve decided that they don’t want to be with [the community]anymore,” he told CBC Daybreak South’s Jaimie Kehler.

“I’ve found that this type of tattooing actually anchors people to their culture and helps them to stay here longer.”

The Earthline school is run by Indigenous artists and only accepts Indigenous students.

ForMtistattoo aficionadoAudieMurray, traditional tattooing is a shift from the experiences she’s had thus far.

She has a handful of machine-inked tattoos the kind you can get in any old tattoo parlourand said she wasn’t satisfied with the experience.

“Every time I received a new tattoo I just felt not super connected with the artist or the studio.I was really searching for that connectivity while getting a tattoo,” said Murray.

“A really big part of [the tattoo]process is the intimacy of it.”

Kaszasspecializes in two traditional methods of tattooing:One is stick and poke; the other isskin stitching. He teaches both at Earthline.

Stick and poke involves asingle, hand-held needle that pierces the skin and tattoos one dot at a time. Withskin stitching, an artist pushes a threaded needle under the skin to, essentially, “make a tunnel filled with ink.”

The Earthline school focuses on the safety of tattooing as well as the cultural aspects. Students also take a health and safety course

Dion Kaszan finishes a Chilkat tattoo on guest mentor, Nahaan, at the 2017 Earth Line Tattoo School in Kelowna. (Earthline Tattoo Collective)

Kaszasis of mixed heritage:Hungarian,Metis, Hawaiian andNlaka’pamuxan Interior B.C.Salishcommunity. He said every community comes with its own tattooing culture.

“Many of the [tattooing] traditions that are represented here were actually outlawed at one time.

Not being allowed to embody who you are on your skin as your ancestors did is actually quite a damaging thing,” he said.

Guest artists and mentors are a big part of the weeks-long program because Kaszas feels it’s important to represent Indigenous cultures other than his own.

The school has welcomed teachers from British Columbia’s Nisga’a, Heiltsuk and Tlingit nations. Artist Pip Hartley came from as far as New Zealand to share Moritattooing practices.

AmyMalbeuf,anestablishedMtisvisual artistfrom Rich Lake,Alta., is part of theEarthlineTattoo Collective a group of artists thatmake the course happen.

Amy Malbeuf uses natural materials like hides and furs in her visual art. She is one of the facilitators at Earthline Collective and has been practicing traditional Indigenous tattooing for a year, (Amy Malbeuf )

Malbeufhopesto see traditional practices revived by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people.

“I think it’s really important for our people to be tattooed by our own people and carry these markings that express our own identity,” she said.

“Even though we are visible people, we are still invisible … I think this is a really great way to assert ourselves.”

With files from CBC Radio One’sDaybreak SouthandJaimieKehler

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Sticking to tradition: Indigenous tattoo revival –

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