The Dream is the Paradigm.
I am the first of my generation and only living Nisga’a tattooist today. The dream world was the reason I started this work, it directed me. When I started the tattoo revitalization work there were only two other artists working in the same way. For us, there were only three of us and no one to mentor the methods. We had to build it from our dreams and the earth up. We had to learn by tattooing ourselves and each other so that we could pass on the teachings. Through this work we are reclaiming our identity and translating the pride of reclamation into visibility. Our youth are everything. Becoming visible and creating space for our youth, our people, was difficult but necessary in a world that holds an exploitative colonial worldview taking and extracting our cultural teachings but wanting us to remain invisible. Taking up space on our own territory. Reconnecting to the threads that make up who we are; past, present, and future. Healing the parts of us that are open wounds. Generational. Art is the access point to deconstruct the generational multi-layered effects of colonization. Art is the voice and vehicle to move through our collective pain and come out on the other side ok. Transformation. Education. Operating within an Indigenous framework to keep who we are alive utilizing traditional methods of tattooing. We walk in two worlds. We dream in our own languages.