Inupiaq woman joins movement to revitalize traditional tattooing

Marjorie Tahbone pushed a needle into and back out of a woman’s forearm, allowing the ink-covered end of the cotton thread to soak in the skin for a moment before she pulled it out and began another stitch.

Onlookers crowded around Tahbone in Anchorage's Dena'ina Center enter this week as she continued to weave the thread through 60-year-old Becky Bendixen’s skin. It left behind a permanent thin black line.

“It hurt a tiny bit,” said Bendixen, a Unangax woman from King Cove who counted it as her 19th tattoo. Bendixen comes from a tribe that, like many, traditionally marks significant life events with tattoos or piercings. “It’s still not like the tattoo gun, but there’s definitely some sensation,” she said.

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