FORUM, Summer 2017

Page 4


panning generations and continents, traditional Inuit tattoos bind women together. Every drop of ink set in their skin reclaims what was taken. Every ancestral design they commit to their bodies is a symbol of cultural pride, healing, and strength. After more than a century of suppression, the art of traditional tattooing is seeing a growing revival across the circumpolar region and the world, anywhere colonizers forced indigenous people to abandon their ways. Among those breathing life back into the Inuit practice of hand-poking and skinstitching are two women who live oceans


A L A S K A H U M A N I T I E S F O R U M S U M M E R 2017

apart, Iñupiaq artist Holly Mititquq Nordlum and Greenlandic tattoo artist Maya Sialuk Jacobsen. A combination of fate, it seems, and technology brought them together. Their story and shared passion is being told through a documentary in the making, Tupik Mi, a project the Alaska Humanities Forum helped get off the ground in 2016 with a $10,000 general grant. Tupik means “tattoo” and Mi, short for muit, is “people.” In this documentary, the tattoo people are Inuit women reclaiming what is theirs and, in the process, healing wounds in their souls. With Nordlum as