I first encountered the work of Nahaan in the book “Tattoo Traditions of Native North America,” by Lars Krutak. As I read about his story in this book and listened to the words he shared on the pages, I was inspired and encouraged to continue on in my own work. Nahaan shares on his website www.killerwhalestandsup.com that his:
“Indigenous lineage is of the Tlingit, Inupiaq of Alaska and Paiute of California. He focuses exclusively on working within the spirit and design style of the Northwest Coast practices and customs of ceremonial tattooing, wood carving, silver jewlery carving, painting and custom designing of regalia and tattoos. Nahaan emulates the strong visual and oral storytelling that has been handed down from generation to generation, it’s the foundation of his work, way of living and teaching of his cultural traditions. Within the realms of language arts and expression, Nahaan teaches the Tlingit language through traditional clan songs, dances and open community classes. He is the spokesperson for the Náakw Dancers, a group he started in Seattle, Washington in 2014, perpetuate the rich expressions of the Pacific Northwests Native population. Nahaan is also a spoken word poet and co-founded “Woosh Kinaadeiyeí” poetry slam in Juneau, Alaska in 2010 which has since grown into a thriving and creative mainstay in the capitol city. He focuses on the aspects of community empowerment and self mastery through the methods of decolonization indigenization and activism.”
In 2015 I painted this portrait of Nahaan to honour the inspiration that I gained from reading his words and observing his actions as he has worked to revive his ancestral Tlingit tattoo traition.
Since that time I have had the privilage of considering Nahaan one of my close personal friends and I am exited to share this painting of him with you.
Stay tuned as I share the pieces I have been creating.