Native American Tattoos:

Native American Tattoos:

It might be tempting to think that the only way to do Native American tattoos is with found images, but, in reality, these images are becoming more and more legitimate with the support of the media.

Native American Tattoo Designs

Native American tattoos are a great way for the natives to enjoy their culture as they recognize their heritage. The earliest settlers in the US are well known for their symbolic tattoos that they still identify with till today. The Native Americans were deeply spiritual and the ancient tribal tattooing was often done as a part of religious practice. The common Native American tattoo designs included animals, birds and reptiles that were often tattooed with the clan name of the wearer incorporated. (Source:

Traditionally, chin tattoos among Inupiat women like Tahbone represented a number of different milestones, such as marriage, overcoming trauma, having kids, or, as in Tahbone’s case, a “coming of age.” According to anthropologist Lars Krutak, a research associate at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico, tattoos were closely tied up in the cultural identity of many Indigenous people. “You could tell a lot about where that person was from, what clan they belonged to, maybe what family they belonged to,” he says.

Thanks to people like Tahbone, herself a scholar and tattoo artist, traditional tattoos are reappearing in Arctic and Northwest Coast Indigenous communities. As she and a handful of other researchers study and revitalize these lost arts, they are both reviving a cultural artform nearly wiped out by colonialism and getting a better understanding of the ways Indigenous communities in the north used tattoos. A tradition that once served as therapy for body and mind might now, in its restoration, treat deep cultural wounds. “When we see that ink on people, we know that we are healing from the historical trauma that occurred,” Tahbone says. (Source: )Indian Country Today Is a Nonprofit News Organization. Will You Support Our Work?


All of our content is free. There are no subscriptions or costs. And we have hired more Native journalists in the past year than any news organization ─ and with your help we will continue to grow and create career paths for our people. Support Indian Country Today for as little as $10. (Source: 


Related Articles