Traditional tattoos, AAPI events to do

Heritage month provides opportunity to share culture, bring awareness to different communities



WSU Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month event’s include traditional tattoo workshop, cultural nights, food demonstrations and more.


Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is upon us, and multiple organizations are hosting different events to celebrate.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Center is working with multiple organizations to host events throughout the month, said Dominique Faga’autau, Office of Student Equity assistant director and AAPI retention counselor.

Multiple AAPI clubs helped get Keli’i Makua to host a tattoo workshop on April 18, said Lee-Joseph Franco, AAPI Student Center Mentor and Hawai’i club vice president.

From 12-1 p.m., Makua will give a lecture in the Compton Union Building auditorium about the meanings behind tattoos, the different messages they send and the process of what traditional indigenous tattooing looks like, Franco said.

From 1-5 p.m., Makua will host a live demonstration at the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center, where he will tattoo Franco and answer questions about the designs he works on.

“The traditional tattoos usually take a little bit longer than a contemporary tattoo with a gun,” Franco said. “Just because it’s with traditional tools, and it’s one line at a time. So during that time, there will only be one tattoo given.”

Traditional tattoos, specifically Polynesian tattoos, are usually not planned out ahead of time. The tattooer and their team will gather around and think about what specific meanings they want to convey on the person’s body and what will be represented in the tattoo, he said.

“I’ve had a lot of work done by Makua in the past, so this will be just a new piece, which I’m really looking forward to,” Franco said.

The tattoo event is a one-of-a-kind opportunity that has not commonly been done at WSU or any other higher education institution, he said.

Kairis Jimenez, Asian Pacific American Student Coalition chair, said there are multiple other events happening throughout the month, including org-Olympics, where organizations in APASC compete against each other in various competitions.

Jimenez said she is excited for the event where multiple clubs and organizations in the AAPI community have the opportunity to go to the CUB auditorium and showcase their talent.

APASC will also hand out free ice cream from Ferdinand’s on the Thursday of Dead Week.

A full list of events can be found on the AAPI website.

Franco said going to school at a predominately white institution (PWI), there are not a lot of outlets to learn about different cultural knowledge unless you are constantly seeking it out.

“I feel like having this whole month that we’re dedicating, with so many different events and opportunities for people to come out and learn something new, it’s really just a way to be more inclusive and be part of a larger community of respect and tolerance,” he said.

Jimenez said she is looking forward to seeing new faces and people who are not part of the organizations come to the events and bring awareness to the opportunities available on campus.

“Since we are [a] PWI, we just want the culture to be shared upon the Pullman campus,” she said.

AAPI Heritage Month opens the opportunity to bring people together, and it is not specific to people within the community, she said.

Everyone in Pullman has created a tight-knit community, and Jimenez said she is looking forward to sharing the Asian American Pacific Islander culture and bringing awareness to people who do not know much about it.

Faga’autau said AAPI Heritage Month allows different cultures to showcase their diverse traditions throughout the community.

There are so many different groups within AAPI, so the heritage month provides the opportunity for each community to express themselves to their peers.

Initially, AAPI Heritage Month was celebrated throughout the month of May, and this is the first year it is being celebrated in April, Faga’autau said. But, AAPI faculty and staff worked with WSU to switch the university’s celebrations to the month of April.

Because school gets out in early May, moving the heritage month to April allows people to be in Pullman for the entire month without the stress of finals, he said.

Franco said holding the heritage month in April instead of May allows the opportunity to demonstrate different cultures to a wider audience. Organizations have the whole month to celebrate and plan events.

“It means a lot to me,” Faga’autau said. “I’m proud of our culture and our community, and it’s nice to showcase and share it with other folks that are in the WSU and Pullman community.”