Gihlee’e Studio is reawakening Northwest Coast Traditional tattooing. Gihlee’ehl ts’ikna’aksim ayuwks is the process of inking tribal crests into the skin. Crests are matrilineal and go back thousands of years. Crests hold stories, songs and law. One image can hold many history lessons that tie people to communities and responsibilities within that community and to the land. It is the people’s responsibility to talk with their Chiefs and learn from their clans to discuss their crests. It is up to the wearer of the ts’iksna’aks to share those lessons correctly. Crests hold ancient power passed down from generation to generation. There is a great responsibility to share the history of your identity. While the ancient practice was reserved for Simgigat (chiefs) and royalty, artist Nakkita Trimble is working closely with Nisga’a Elders to revive this ancient tradition as an art form and modern expression of culture and heritage.
Meet Nakkita Trimble
Meet Nakkita Trimble
Nakkita Trimble’s Nisga’a name is Algaxhl Gwilksk’alt’amtkw, which translates to "speaking through art." Her ayuwks (crest) is the Ganaaò or frog, and she is from the House of, or Wilps Axdii Wil Luu-Gooda. Her family is maternally from Gingolx however, Nakkita was born and raised in Prince Rupert.
Her sense of familiarity with the community and its people made the idea of starting a business here a natural, easy one. "I know everyone," she says, "and I love that I can walk into a local business and everyone knows my name." Not only that, but "you develop a relationship with the people that you do business with," a fact that adds a deeper layer of meaning to her work. In fact, it's an important aspect of tattooing, since the art is a very personal experience and one that bonds the artist to the client in a unique way.
"Artists are naturally entrepreneurs," adds Nakkita about her venture into her own business. Artists often have to forge their own way, and they're usually undaunted by the idea of doing so. "Artists know how to take risks and enjoy taking them," she states. That means that when inspiration comes best late at night, she has the freedom to work during those non-traditional business hours. Being able to create her own schedule and choose who she wants to work with is a perk of business ownership that comes in a close second to being able to do the kind of work that inspires and energizes her.
Nakkita is proud of her culture and enjoys spending time acquainting herself more closely with her heritage, whether it is spending time with elders or harvesting traditional food. She has an affinity for nature and expresses this by gardening, both food and flowers, going for a walk with her dog, heading out on the water in a canoe or simply sitting back and watching the sun set. Most of all, though, she likes to spend her spare time with her family at her side.
Prince Rupert, BC
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