The rich history of American Native tattoos stems primarily from the variety and complexity of American Indian artwork. While it is easy to look at the wide array of pre-Colombian cultures in North America as a single whole, there was actually a tremendous variety of different cultures, with different views on art and body illustration. Different tribes had very different attitudes towards ornamentation, different methods of tattooing or modifying their bodies and different themes and motifs. A Blackfoot Indian tattoo, for example, will look different than one following the Cherokee traditions. Native tattoos are often connected to spiritual or naturalistic settings, feature animals thought to possess useful aspects for human emulation or sites of power.
- Because there are hundreds of independent tribes, “Native American tattoos” describes a large and varied group of artistic traditions.
- A common thread among designs is a respect for nature and animals.
- Some American Indians get designs of their traditional languages to generate interest in them as their use and recognition dwindle.
Most people who get American Indian tattoos have Indian heritage themselves and wish to express that. This can be a complicated process, since many designs have specific meanings for that tribe that may have been offensive to other tribes or may be reserved for women only. It’s important to do your homework before getting one of these tattoos, but some trends run throughout them: a sense of mysticism towards nature and animals, for instance.
Read more about the Meanings and Symbolism of Native American Tattoos.