EPISODE 8 – SEATTLE
Written and directed by Sonia Bonspille-Boileau
Seattle-born artist Nahaan sees tattoo, like many other forms of artistic expression, as a political act and a form of resistance. This artist of mixed First Nations heritage draws on traditional teachings to create new work using modern and traditional methods alike. Born and raised in an urban environment, Nahaan uses the city as a platform for upholding and revivifying cultural practices that colonization once threatened to wipe out. Drawing on the symbology and aesthetics of the Indigenous West Coast, his tattoo work becomes “permanent regalia” on the bodies he works on, expressing through image and symbol the deepest beliefs of his ancestors and the forces that give life to his people and the land.
Nahaan is an artist, teacher and activist based in Seattle, Washington, whose Indigenous lineage is of the Tlingit, Inupiaq of Alaska and Paiute of California. He focuses exclusively on working within the spirit and design style of the Northwest Coast practices and customs of ceremonial tattooing, wood carving, silver jewlery carving, painting and custom designing of regalia and tattoos. Nahaan emulates the strong visual and oral storytelling that has been handed down from generation to generation. It’s the foundation of his work, way of living and teaching of his cultural traditions. Within the realms of language arts and expression, Nahaan teaches the Tlingit language through traditional clan songs, dances and open community classes.