Today, let’s celebrate the work of the Indigenous people and artists on whose land we are visiting. From my conversations this past week I would like to honour the Earth Line Tattoo Collective comprised of a dedicated team of cultural tattoo practitioners and visual artists: Jordan Bennett (Mi’kmaq), Dion Kaszas (Nlaka’pamux), and Amy Malbeuf (Cree/Metis). Their work strives to enhance, expand, and support the work of traditional and cultural Indigenous tattoo practices across Canada.
July 1st is a day that I choose to celebrate differently. I won’t get into detail here, as it is a short blog, but Algonquin Anishinaabe-kwe author Dr. Lynn Gehl, from the Ottawa River Valley, does a fantastic summary of the issues and violence that are implicated in celebrating ‘Canada Day.’ You can find her piece here. For my part, as my journey, conversations, and experiences with creative art practices and the people on whose land I am visiting grow, I understand that ‘Canada Day’ is a limited viewpoint. It is limited in that it limits the history of this land to the creation of a nation despite the lives, cultures, histories, and peoples that have lived on and with this land for thousands of years pre-dating colonial nation building enterprises. Today, I honour the land that I am visiting on and the Indigenous peoples that work to sustain it with their cultures, healing, knowledges, and art practice.
Dion is doing just that. With the Earth Line Tattoo Collective and the Earth Line Tattoo Residency (on from June 20th – July 15th) they are looking forward by teaching. “This project has the potential to benefit the healing of Indigenous individuals and communities as they go on the journey of embodying their own Indigenous identity in the form of receiving a tattoo,” and “the revival of Indigenous tattooing is not only about the revival of a tattooing tradition, it also about the rebuilding of other knowledge systems.”
As part of their work, they “are committed to ensuring the cultural safety of individuals and communities we work with through research, collaboration, design development, and creating awareness of the cultural Indigenous tattoo practices of Turtle Island.”
I spoke to Dion Kaszas this week to write about the work that he is doing with his Earth Line Tattoo Residency. The artists in the residency were away on a Stein Valley Hike but I explored his blog (here) where there were many photos of the tattoo-artists-in-training. The work that Dion does is inspired by the question posed by Rachelle Dickinson, “What is next?” Dion responded, “I need to figure out how to teach others how to do what I do.”
Today is a day that I honour the work of the collective and the traditions of the Indigenous peoples of the land. In my own practice, I will looking backwards and forward by planting a pollinator garden. It is inspired by Dion’s notion of, “What is next?” For me that means respecting the land I am visiting and honouring the people who have sustained it by leaving the backyard a little better than it was this morning (and feeding the bees).
The Earth Line Tattoo Residency is part of, and supported by, the Summer Indigenous Art Intensive starting this coming Monday, July 4th, at UBC Okanagan.
RMOOC: Arts + Reconciliation
July 15 - Sep 30, 2013.