A guide to Fountain Square’s new Indigenous-owned tattoo studio

A tattoo chair in Thunderbird Rising Studios with a mural behind it
A soothing environment for Thunderbird Rising's clients | Photo via INDYtoday team

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As we near the end of Native American Heritage Month, we’re giving you the must-know details about Thunderbird Rising Studios — what we’ve found as Indy’s only Indigenous-owned tattoo shop

An ink-credible addition to the Fountain Square neighborhood, the shop is located at the corner of Prospect + Laurel St. and is owned by Stephanie Big Eagle, local author, dancer, and of course, tattoo artist. 

Owner Stephanie Big Eagle standing in front of a mural in her shop
Stephanie Big Eagle in front of her freshly completed mural | Photo via INDYtoday team

Thunderbird Rising opened just last month + is part of a movement to bring back the traditional hand poke tattoo method, which has been around for thousands of years. Stephanie, whose tribe is Lakota and Dakota Sioux, opened the shop as a space to empower Indigenous Hoosiers to share their culture with everyone.

The tools used in the hand poke technique are all modern, sanitized needles + contemporary inks — it’s the style and culture behind it that’s ancient and traditional. It’s a machine-free method that’s more connected to the spiritual aspect of tattoos. 

The outside of the shop with an old Dr. Pepper advertisement on the wall
You might recognize this building as Onatah General’s old location | Photo via INDYtoday team

The front of the shop is an intentional space held for Indigenous creators to offer their work and it will also be used for gallery shows and events. Proceeds go straight back to the communities that made the work possible.

Tattoos are appointment-only at the moment, but Stephanie intends to welcome walk-ins in the future. Working with clients to create custom designs is the method of choice with Thunderbird Rising, though flash pieces might be available further down the line. If you’d like to make an appointment for a tattoo, you can do so on Thunderbird Rising’s website.

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