More Than Ink: Traditional Tattoos Roar Back In Alaska


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Maya Sialuk Jacobsen of Greenland gives a henna tattoo to a friend’s chin during an event at the Anchorage Museum, part of the Polar Lab’s Tupik-Mi series on traditional tattoos. (Photo: Zachariah Hughes, KSKA)

By Zachariah Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage | September 17, 2015

More and more Alaska Native women are getting face tattoos.

The traditional practice dates back centuries, but was banned by 19th and 20th century missionaries. Now it’s coming back. Though the techniques and customs were nearly lost, a new generation is using tattoos to reclaim what it means to be a strong native woman in the 21st century.

In the backroom of a small Anchorage tattoo parlor, Maya Sialuk Jacobsen used a thin needle to pull an inky thread through the skin on her friend’s wrist.

“I use the exit hole as the entrance for the next stitch,” Jacobsen explained, bent over her work as a…

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