As Seen Through Indigenous Eyes and Heard Through Indigenous Voices: A Storytelling Project


Author/Creator ORCID





MA in Cultural Sustainability

Citation of Original Publication


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The purpose for this capstone project is to produce a web-based product which illustrates the intersection of story and tattooed forms of identity among Indigenous people in California. The title of this capstone project is, As Seen Through Indigenous Eyes and Heard Through Indigenous Voices: A Storytelling Project. This web-based product includes digital stories of tattooed individuals and is a place to access educational material on the practice, as well as California Indian history. My primary question is: Can an outward facing identity marker such as the traditional “111” tattoo be a foundation for educating the public and Native communities about political, social and historical issues facing Indigenous communities in California? This project will illuminate the stories of California Indians that currently have received their “111” tattoo or are considering receiving their “111”. Each story tells the personal journey of the individual in receiving their tattoo and discusses the impacts that have resulted after receiving their tattoo. These stories were edited into digital stories and are available on the California Indigenous Chin Tattooing website, to heighten awareness of the resurgence of this cultural tradition and the historical reasons it was lost. The website also features other Indigenous communities in the world where traditional tattooing practices have not been interrupted and where revitalization of lost tattoo practices are ongoing. In these communities, tattooing is valued as a marker of Indigenous identity. This project’s purpose is multi-layered. Socially it is filling a void in cultural knowledge about the traditional practice of chin tattooing in California. For myself, as a bearer of a traditional “111” chin tattoo, it has helped me to grow as an activist in the revitalization of unconventional traditional arts and culture such as the “111” chin tattoo. Personally, in my journey of receiving my chin tattoo, I was disowned by my family; they have not spoken to me since I received my chin tattoo. This poignant experience demonstrates the need to educate even our own community members regarding the significance and importance of this traditional practice. The deeply personal stories that I have recorded and the educational material that is presented through this project serve to create bonds and strengthen knowledge about California Indians across public audiences as well as the Native community.