Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tunnittaarumajunga - I want to get face tattoos

My name is Alethea-Ann Aggiuq Arnaquq-Baril, and I'm from Iqaluit, Nunavut. This blog will be about my personal journey to research traditional Inuit tattoos before I get them.

In my dialect of Inuktitut:
"kakiniit" means "tattoos"
"tunniit" means "face tattoos"

This coming August, I will be getting tunniit. I've been trying to research Inuit tattooing for years now, but there is very very little existing research about this topic, so it can be quite frustrating. I've done a few elder interviews over the last couple of years, but I'm about to travel all over Nunavut in the next month and a half to interview as many elders as I can about traditional tattoos. It's taken almost 4 years to get the funding together to go on this trip, and now I'm FINALLY ready to start traveling! I leave this week.

First stop: IGLOOLIK!!!


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  2. If your trip includes Arctic Bay, Qapiq Attagusiak and Immarituk Taqtu would be good people to see. I recently had the opportunity to talk to them about Atuat, who was as far as I can tell, the last woman living here who had been tattoo'd. One thing they related was that Atuat was a week in bed recovering from the tattooing.

  3. Hello Alethea-Ann,
    I'm a producer with the English service of Radio Canada International (CBC International). I'm coordinating an ambitious multimedia and multi-platform co-production project with Canadian and international partners to examine the issues around the impact of climate change on the Arctic and its people.
    We are hoping to attract partners from different media organizations - public and private - in Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark. The idea is to look at the geopolitical, environmental, economic and social issues facing the Arctic from different perspectives and then share content between the participants (RCI will be creating a website - in English, French and Inuktitut - to house and broadcast all the contributions, and it will be available to all the participants).
    However, a big part of our project is to give people of the Arctic a possibility to tell their stories directly. So we would like to identify a few people across different northern communities and ask them to keep online journals or blogs about various aspects of their life and how changes in the Arctic are affecting their lives. My goal is to create a community of bloggers across the Arctic, to link people who in many cases are facing similar challenges.
    I saw your blog and was quite impressed by the idea of getting a traditional face tattoo and documenting your journey. So I'm wondering if you'd be interested in contributing once our website is up and running.
    I'm looking forward to hearing from you. I can be reached by email at: levon.sevunts@cbc.ca or by phone at 514-597-4877.
    Best wishes,

  4. I've been thinking about getting kakiniit on my hands. I've been trying to look for information about them and was wondering if you could point me in the right direction.
    I'll be in Iqaluit during the summer and was wondering who will be doing your tattoo. I hear someone comes every once in a while to tattoo and are here year round. but maybe that's not true.
    Beth Kotierk

  5. i just saw the film The Fast Runner and became intrigued with the facial tatoos and hand tatoos of the women. There was a good link which i am sure you have seen http://www.vanishingtattoo.com/arctic_tattoos.htm
    I am going to follow your blog

  6. Hi,
    I am a filmmaker based in Toronto. I produce the series "Angry Planet" (and filmed an episode of it in Iqaluit). I am starting a new series called "Indian Ink"about a Metis tattoo artist and adventurer called Ian Greening. I am interested in coming to Iqaluit to do an episode with you about traditional Inuit tattooing. Ian could tattoo you if you like, we could get involved with some Inuk tattooists up there, etc. We would probably want to do it in March or April of next year after you get the sun back. Is this of interest to you? Please let me know - peter@peterrowe.tv
    Peter Rowe

  7. Just saw your documentary on APTN this evening. I congratulate you on following your intuition - your heart. One of the last things you said was that you were glad to know your children would be growing up with just thinking your tattoos are natural. I think this was the most profound part of your documentary.
    You are an example of how when change needs to be made, it just takes one step, one action and the pond ripples. Imagine if old traditions reappeared because our generation brought them back. A little at a time, gently and genuinely in our own way, just like you.
    My love to you, sister.
    Kirsten in Kamloops, BC, Canada