Iñupiaq Regalia and Inuit Tattooing by Kunaq

Kunaq or Marjorie Tahbone shared with the AIVAN group a wide range of her eclectic practices in traditional Inupiaq art. Kunaq not only sews intricate regalia and traditional kamik boots, but also works to revitalize traditional tattooing as a way to connect herself to her Inupiaq and Kiowa heritage. She emphasized how reviving the tattoo tradition brings feelings of strength and empowerment for Native Alaskan Inuit women. She highlighted tattoos on the chin which symbolize womanhood, and explained that depending on which community you’re from, Indigenous women also have tattoos on the legs, back, or breasts.

Kunaq designed and handsewed a beautiful parka for her wedding, using furs from wolverine, otter, beaver, seal, and wolf as well as fish skin, moosehide, and cow calf skin. The parka includes details depicting her family’s emblem design, as well as a wind-protective sunshine hood made from multiple layers of furs. Kunaq is also in the process of making parkas for her daughters using ground squirrel furs. She incorporates their family emblem design into all of these family regalia, which she hopes will be passed onto future generations as well. The guest also shared with the AIVAN group several different pairs of kamik boots which she designed and made. She makes these from seal skin, beaver, and fish skin leathers.

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