Tattoo Traditions by the Native Women of Alaska
Tattoos had become traditions and even culture for some tribes.
The traditions still going on in Alaska and many native women of Alaska work pretty
hard over a decade to revitalize the tradition. A chin tattoo is one of the traditions.
Some fine lines are drawn to the chin from the bottom lip.
Grete Chythlook is one of those native women and she has a tattoo on her chin.
These tattoos of some fine lines on the chin were something she could find from at
least 10,000 years ago. Today, those tattoos are revitalized by Alaska Native women.
It is one of the many ways they do to reconnect with the ancestors or at least
with the traditions.
According to Chythlook, this tradition has been around for thousands of years
but it was just suddenly gone. She dreamt about this ancestral memory
and then she got the tattoo.
According to history, the tattoos were inked to women’s skin by women’s hands.
The purpose was to commemorate points and achievements in the
life of a woman back then.
The achievements might include menstrual periods, the ability to master a new skill,
and also giving birth.
However, Western colonization had changed Alaska especially with
the establishment of boarding schools in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The school spoke a language and prohibited the native language or even native rituals.
Meanwhile, tattooing was one of the prohibited rituals.
For the last decade, native women in Alaska revitalize the tradition to celebrate
the long-ago efforts.
Just like our ancestors had done, the women in Alaska today also use a
traditional hand-poke method. It can be done at home and by everyone after all.
For them, tattoos are the re-articulation of the native heritage.
In the end, it could not be denied that tattooing back then had made a better
yet more visible sisterhood in the indigenous environment.