Aviññaq/Danyal Harvey (b. 1998)
Sarah Ayaqi Whalen-Lunn gave me my tavluġun (chin tattoo) when I just had turned 20. The rest I received over time. Sarah gave me my iqsraq (cheek) markings and the six dots outside of my tavluġun for my birthday last year. My markings are sacred. They allow me to express my soul and culture to the rest of the world. They express different ways to honor my ancestors and family. When I was younger, I was ashamed of being Native. Living in the city, being Native came with negative connotations that included bullying and harassment. When I went back home, I was teased for being too much of a "city girl.” This made me feel like I did not have a place anywhere in this world. As I grew older, I began looking within my beautiful culture for myself. I started to strip away any negative emotions and trauma that I built up from my past experiences. My markings celebrate my journey of healing, protection, and self-discovery. They also serve as a reminder of how strong, beautiful, and resilient my people are. Every day I look in the mirror, and I know I am all of these things. It encourages me to not settle for less, and to carry on traditions for other lñupiat/lndigenous youth, who are on their own journey of healing and finding themselves within their culture.