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Old 06-30-2008, 11:23 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Tradional Tattoo?

Yes I was wondering if my fellow males could help me out here. I am looking to be very tradional and I notice alot of native males have a very specific tattoo on there forearms. I was wondering what is the meaning and tribal connection with them. I am Cherokee, Shawnee, and Cheyenne so not much holds me back but I dont want to disrespect anyone by putting the wrong marking on my body so could you guys help me out here. All my native culture background is all researched by myself b/c I don't have supporting family so PLEASE help a fellow NDN out!
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Old 07-01-2008, 10:51 AM   #2
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I don't have any tattoos. I'm just a guy living life like I should. I make no claims to being traditional. I attend ceremonies when I should. I dance, sing. I do what I should be doing. So............ I guess I'm not tradish.

I'm a an old time guy living the way that I was raised. Being Ojibwe to me, is just a way of life.

My father, grandfathers or great-grandfathers didn't have the traditional tattoos that you describe. I can't help you, man.

Just be yourself and put whatever you want. But.......... if you want to be traditional, don't use needles or go to a tattoo parlor. Use porcupine quills and berry juice or whatever coloring that is natural. Then, you know that you are ........ really tradish.
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Old 07-01-2008, 12:38 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ProudNightWolf View Post
Yes I was wondering if my fellow males could help me out here. I am looking to be very tradional and I notice alot of native males have a very specific tattoo on there forearms. I was wondering what is the meaning and tribal connection with them. I am Cherokee, Shawnee, and Cheyenne so not much holds me back but I dont want to disrespect anyone by putting the wrong marking on my body so could you guys help me out here. All my native culture background is all researched by myself b/c I don't have supporting family so PLEASE help a fellow NDN out!
Go to your elders with tobacco and you will find your answer.
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Old 07-01-2008, 12:46 PM   #4
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Perhaps you could tatoo:

"I am traditional" on your forearm. That way no one can question you.
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Old 07-01-2008, 12:51 PM   #5
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It took me a second but I found it:

Getting a Native American Tattoo

Getting a Native American Tattoo: The Trouble With Tribal Designs

Well, this isn't a bad question on the face of it. Many American Indian tribes do have traditions of tribal tattoo art. In some tribes this tradition is unbroken, and in others it's being revived by Indian young people. However, if you are writing to me and asking this question, I would encourage you to consider three things:

1. You may have Indian heritage, but you do not have an actual connection with your ancestors' tribe, otherwise you would have family members to ask about your tribe's tattoo tradition rather than asking me.

2. People who have Indian heritage but no actual connection with their ancestors' tribe are often wrong about their ancestors' tribal affiliation! (You wouldn't believe how many people have been looking for an impossible-to-locate Cherokee great-grandmother, only to find that they'd wasted years bcause she was actually Assiniboine and everyone just called her Cherokee because they'd never heard of the Assiniboines.)

3. You should assume that getting a tattoo will be PERMANENT. Sometimes they can remove tattoos later (which is extremely expensive) but other times they can't remove them completely and you would still have a partial tattoo or a permanent scar. So if you get a tattoo, plan on keeping it.

Now, combine these three things. Say you're a young man who really wants to connect with your grandmother's people, really want to make that a part of your life, so you get an elaborate Cherokee facial tattoo. Then you find out she was really Assiniboine. Sorry to put it this way, but you're screwed. A lot of Indians are skeptical of young non-Indians rediscovering Indian roots anyway, think they're not very serious. You think the Assiniboines are going to accept you as one of them when you have Cherokee tattoos all over your face. (In Sioux cultures men don't even tattoo their faces, only women do, so you'll look like an idiot going over and claiming to be related to them.)

Now if you have a tribal identity already--you belong to a tribe, or you have third cousins who do and you visit them every year, or something like that--then great, go for it, worse that happens is you get old and fat and the tattoo doesn't look good anymore like the one I got in the army. But if you are looking for a tribal identity, and you would maybe like to be accepted as a mixed-blood Indian someday, or at least you don't want actual Indians to laugh at you when you introduce yourself, please do yourself a favor and hold off on the Native American tattoos until you are actually affiliated with the tribe in question. Use your common sense: if American Indian tattoos were originally used as a form of permanent tribal identification, then putting on the wrong tattoo will permanently mark you as an outsider. Do you really want to risk that? For that matter, even putting on a correct tattoo from a tribe you've never even been to visit will pretty much mark you as a poser (just like putting on army tattooes when you've never been a soldier would).

In other words, if you have to ask a stranger about it over the Internet, you probably really do not want to be getting a Native American tribal tattoo. You run the risk of achieving exactly the opposite effect from the one you were hoping for: distancing yourself from your people, or even mis-honoring an ancestor. Tread carefully there.


But What If I Want A Native American Tattoo Anyway?
When I first put this page up some years ago, most of the tattoo-related email I received was from mixed-blood people wishing to get traditional tribal tattoos to honor their native ancestors and feel closer to their native heritage. It is these people that my previous advice is intended for (and judging from their responses, it has been appreciated.) However, since that time tribal tattoo art has apparently really hit the mainstream, and now I get a lot of frustrated email from other people--young people who are not that interested in reconnecting with their specific Indian roots, or indeed do not have any at all. "Look," they say, "I just want to get a cool looking tattoo that shows my respect for Native Americans in general. I don't really care which tribe it's from. I don't need warnings--don't you have any suggestions?"

Well, you're going to have a hard time getting an authentically traditional Native American tribal tattoo if you really don't belong to a Native American community at all, but here are some ideas which may be interesting to you if you are in this situation:

1) You could get a tribal tattoo design created by a contemporary Native American artist. I know of one Cherokee artist, Ken Masters, who has pictures of a few tribal tattoos designed by him available on his website for free. You could also browse through our directory of Native American artists, particularly the native paintings, because some of the other artists may design tattoo art on commission.

2) Cherokee and Cree both have unique writing systems, and you could use lettering from one of those scripts as a tattoo design. These are syllabaries, not alphabets, which means that each Cherokee or Cree character represents one syllable. You could use the first syllable in your name or your girlfriend's name or something like that. Here are pictures of all the characters in Cherokee and Cree. You can also download a free Windows font of Cherokee letters here.

3) You could use a word from a Native American language as a tattoo design. This isn't traditional in any tribe that I know of, but in recent times some young Indian guys have started doing it, especially with their names, family or clan names, a kinship term, or an animal they feel a connection with. Anything that gets the young people more interested in our languages is a good new tradition as far as I'm concerned. You can use a dictionary to find the word for your favorite animal or the kinship term for a family member you'd like to honor. Here's our Amerindian directory, where we have links to online dictionaries and other resources in various Indian languages. If you'd like a word like this but don't want to track one down yourself, our Native American language organization is currently doing a fundraiser to provide Native American names for people's dogs, and we could also provide translations of an animal or kinship word in several different native languages. Here's a form you can fill out if you're interested in that.

4) You could adapt a traditional symbol or design from Native American art into a tattoo picture. There are plenty of good books with pictures of Native American designs and symbols, including Indian Designs, American Indian Design and Decoration, Indian Art of the Northwest Coast, Art of the Northwest Coast Indians, Images in Stone: Southwest Rock Art, Tribal Design Motifs of Ancient Mexico, and Designs from Pre-Columbian Mexico. You can probably find a book of Native American art designs in your local library.

5) You could use the tribal seal or flag of a Native American nation as a tattoo design. If you're really sure which tribe grandma belonged to, this might be the option for you. Here is a really nice site with pictures of almost all the tribal flags in the United States and some of the Canadian ones: Native American Flags.

Hope one of those might be the idea you are looking for.

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Old 07-01-2008, 01:03 PM   #6
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Old 07-01-2008, 02:55 PM   #7
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the tattoos that you are descibing is just what that person wanted to put into that spot. it's something that he/she liked and wanted to mark their body with. don't get one if you think that it's there because it's part of the style of the dance cause its not.
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Old 07-01-2008, 06:26 PM   #8
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I don't want it because of my dance style, I want it to show that I am here, I am embracing my culture, I see the ways of me ancestors, I know this next part will sound odd but I see and feel things when I am dancing that makes everything just go away. I loose myself in the beats and do movements I have never seen nor never done. I drift away and loose sight of spectatures and other dancers and feel the breeze when there is no breeze. I feel as if I don't dance but those who are gone or around who can no longer dance enter my spirit and use me to do the movements. So I want my tattoo to kinda show that I understand all this and that I am here to learn more as needed. That tattoo I have seen many times looks like almost large triangles between two lines, one at the bottom by your wrist and on up top about inch of two from elbow. then at the top there are points somtimes they are round and there something above them then at the bottom there is a small narrow oval coming down. Everytime I see the tattoo I see it on me but if it mark of the warrior I dont need it for I am not military. I don't want elders being mad at me if it is a sign of the elders but I see this tattoo at almost EVERY powwow I go to. I will try to find a pic to post and maybe then someone can explain if it is okay for me to get this tattoo. Till then Megwetch for all the help and tips, please keep them coming.
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Old 07-01-2008, 06:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProudNightWolf View Post
I don't want it because of my dance style, I want it to show that I am here, I am embracing my culture, I see the ways of me ancestors, I know this next part will sound odd but I see and feel things when I am dancing that makes everything just go away. I loose myself in the beats and do movements I have never seen nor never done. I drift away and loose sight of spectatures and other dancers and feel the breeze when there is no breeze. I feel as if I don't dance but those who are gone or around who can no longer dance enter my spirit and use me to do the movements. So I want my tattoo to kinda show that I understand all this and that I am here to learn more as needed. That tattoo I have seen many times looks like almost large triangles between two lines, one at the bottom by your wrist and on up top about inch of two from elbow. then at the top there are points somtimes they are round and there something above them then at the bottom there is a small narrow oval coming down. Everytime I see the tattoo I see it on me but if it mark of the warrior I dont need it for I am not military. I don't want elders being mad at me if it is a sign of the elders but I see this tattoo at almost EVERY powwow I go to. I will try to find a pic to post and maybe then someone can explain if it is okay for me to get this tattoo. Till then Megwetch for all the help and tips, please keep them coming.
you know what? go ahead to get the tattoo, you have my permission.
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Old 07-01-2008, 06:54 PM   #10
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Thanks but that still confusses me, with your permission I respect but how does that help me know the meaning and if it is right? I found a pic but I am looking for a better one
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:00 PM   #11
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uhm ya

tradish in my family is a needle ink and a lotta beer

one crooked drunk poke at a time

crosses hearts names other ppls names on the wrong persons hand

goot times.
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:10 PM   #12
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Thanks but that still confusses me, with your permission I respect but how does that help me know the meaning and if it is right? I found a pic but I am looking for a better one
i was being sarcastic for i am in no authority to give permission to anyone except my family.
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Old 07-01-2008, 07:31 PM   #13
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No Tattoos Needed

Quote:
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Thanks but that still confusses me, with your permission I respect but how does that help me know the meaning and if it is right? I found a pic but I am looking for a better one
Dude, don't trip off of this.

You don't need a tattoo (or a piece of paper for that matter) to prove you are a Native.

Also, you need to think about the implications; facial tattoos were the norm for some of us waaaayyy back when, but these days you couldn't find a job in the most liberal of places if you have an inked face. It just ain't worth collecting SSI over.

The other thing is that guys' (and ladies) used to EARN these, and did not just slap them on all willy-nilly like we do today.

I've spent hundreds of hours working to earn the $$ to get my tattoos; I have three biggies, my shoulder caps are both covered and most of my left leg is covered too.

Think about it once BEFORE you do it. I've worked in shops before, as a gopher and was instructed more than once to throw out anyone who even alluded to a laser removal. Tattoo artists who are worth their salt have spent years mastering their craft and tend to get pissy when people talk about lasering them off.

I used to tell potential customers all the time; the best tattoo for you may very well be the one YOU NEVER GET!!!!!!

Think about it.
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Old 07-06-2008, 01:58 AM   #14
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These are 3 different varations of the tattoo I am trying to decribe, can ANYONE explain it to me, I am not getting the tattoo bc of looks, or for my dance style, or any reason other than I want it to show my connection with my culture and pride. A sign of what I represent.
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Old 07-06-2008, 08:03 AM   #15
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Please don't take my post too serious, maybe it's all BS, maybe not. I don't know. For you're looking so hard, I decided to do this post, although I'm not sure whether the info is proper or not. But hey- maybe this can help you get another point of view!? I got a large tattoo myself. After 10 years of doubts, one day I KNEW what I want and where and who's gonna be my inker. I regret nothing. Good luck...

First thought when I looked at the pic on the left was: A drum. Don't know why. But that was my first thought.

Now the symbols (don't shoot me in case I'm wrong LOL for it's all taken out of a book, and its back doesn't exist anymore, so I can't even tell you the name of the book...)

Upright standing "V": Creative ideas or spiritual power/ ability to analyse, think and use your intelligence in a positive way

Rhombus/diamond: Protective power of the four winds, Phases of life/learning/aging, everlasting equality, unity and being free of fears

In case there are two small circles in the upright standing "V": Being in search of truth and secrets of life

In case there are horizontal lines in the "V": Ability of developing material or spiritual bounteousness although inner and outer richness already exists, you just need access

Two connected "V"s: Good diplomat/ ability of connecting two different points of view

Two connected "V"s standing on a horizontal line: Power of knowledge how to make life easier

More than two: Connection of many positions and impressions

More than two "V"s standing on a horizontal line: Path of learning, readiness/willingness cause completely new prospects

Horizontal line: Plentifulness/fruitifulness... of the earth, migration, willpower or just connection to earth


I wish I could help you there, and again: Don't take my post too serious,... maybe somebody reads it and knows whether it's good info or BS ;-)
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Old 07-06-2008, 12:46 PM   #16
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I know a man from a Res who got a Celtic tatoo accross his back. Does that make him traditional Scottish? A tatoo doesn't mean anything really but that you like it and it looks good. And it is something that you will have to live with the rest of your life. Now, that's something to think about. There are people who say that they want to get a tatoo that represents them and who they are. Well that's all well and good if you are into that, but if you are thinking that just 'cause someone sees it that they will automatically take you as what the picture represents, you are sadly mistaken there. I'm sorry but that is true. Most people will just see it and either say "It looks nice" or someone might ask you about it. Otherwise, most people will just not pay any attention to it or to what you think that it represents.

Getting a tatoo isn't about how other's see you or take you, but it's solely about what you like. However, when you are talking about Tribal Tatoo's, then that is something that should be addressed to an "Elder" of that Tribe.
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Old 07-06-2008, 01:17 PM   #17
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it sounds like you want the secret handshake and password before you pay your dues...if you see that tattoo or something similar on someone and theyre Indian,i really wouldnt go copying it to be cool or accepted..i think it would have the opposite affect to be honest...you cant just proclaim one day"im traditional", its not like being a christian....your actions will speak louder than any mark on your body...have you ever asked anyone who had one of these tat's,what the design meant?how do you know it has anything to do with being traditional?
you said you dont want the tat for any reason except to show your connection to your culture and as a sign of what you represent...if you really stop and think about it,that makes no sense at all...you want to wear a symbol to show what youre about and proclaim to the world,that youre traditional, but you dont know what the symbol means...hmmmmmmmmm...
if you want to show the ndn world what youre about and be accepted,go pick up litter at the next powwow you go to,help feed everyone...that would go alot further than a mark on your skin that you dont have a clue what it means...
ps..ive been around a long time and ive never seen that tat on anyone...
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Old 07-06-2008, 01:44 PM   #18
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Exactly, the meaning is so very important. I'd never ever get a tattoo because it looks "cool". Nope, but that's just me. Mine got a reason, helped me through a tough period of my life, have a meaning of healing body and soul, grounding me and so on. It is MINE and usually nobody but me can see it. It's just for myself and means a lot to me. It makes me stronger and reminds me what I have been through in my life. That's what I meant when I said I waited about 10 years but didn't get one, but then out of the sudden I felt what I wanted and needed- without anybody's help or comment. My tattoos are just for myself. Scars. Black scars. Everlasting. A part of me. Nothing to show off. One part of my tattoo is a scar over a real large scar. Not to hide it but more a symbol that everything is gonna be alright from now on :-).
I have seen some traditional tattoos myself, made in a traditional way, some Native American ones, some Celtic made with a shark's tooth, even some on men's faces. I've seen pieces of great art without any meaning - more to show off or look pretty, many of those tribals that are getting out of fashion sooner or later,.... some bodies look like patchwork. So- I wish you'd find what you need and want to be happy, but not for other people - no - for yourself. That's why I tried to find out something about the meanings of those symbols. But as I said at first: When I first saw the tattoo on your pic, it reminded me of a drum. Not a Native American drum, I don't remember yet which drum it is that it keeps reminding me of, maybe Irish, Swiss, .... something like that. So like Sokoki Wolf and Timmy Tiger said: Having such a tattoo doesn't make people think you're a traditional person. It is not important what people think or what I think. Please make your own decision, and if you want to honor somebody with a tattoo, then I would suggest to get first hand info from those who really know about these things. Not via Internet. Good luck, and if it is as important for you as it seems to be, you'll find your perfect tattoo sooner or later. Please don't hurry....
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Old 07-06-2008, 03:35 PM   #19
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Megwethch all for your help, I know what I must do and not do now. You have all helped me some way or another. My words are coming out wrong but atleast I have still gotten the help. I thank all of you very much!
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Old 07-07-2008, 12:12 AM   #20
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Looks 6 nations to me bro - although they had similar ink on the NW coast too. Do your research, a lot of designs and their placement are gender specific.

And just because i did the research; the bands that practiced tattooing amongst the Ojibwe had designs that have a similar vibe too Maori designs. I only know one family that still does them - the daughter that has them is a lawyer and has old facial designs.

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Originally Posted by ProudNightWolf View Post


These are 3 different varations of the tattoo I am trying to decribe, can ANYONE explain it to me, I am not getting the tattoo bc of looks, or for my dance style, or any reason other than I want it to show my connection with my culture and pride. A sign of what I represent.
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