DENVER – Over the past few weeks, three indigenous artists have created murals in the parking lot of Denver Central Market in Denver’s River North (RiNo) Art District.
These murals are a part of the RiNo Mural Program and tell the contemporary story of Native Americans in Colorado.
“Not all natives wear headdresses or wear long braids with feathers. We can wear our comfy clothes and put our moccasins on,” artist Danielle Seewalker said.
November is Native American Heritage Month and artists like Seewalker want their art to shine light on the rich history and culture of Native people in the state.
“I really wanted to do something super fun but very representational of who Native people are today,” Seewalker said.
Seewalker said her mural features six real people who she knows personally.
Artist Gregg Deal said his mural re-imagines the endings of stereotypical cowboy and Indian stories.
“It is essentially re-appropriating comic book images from the 40s and 50s that are by all intents and purposes, stereotypical and derogatory towards Natives,” Deal said. “I think as a contemporary artist I’m looking mostly at the way I’m experiencing the world. I’m looking at things through my own viewpoint as a Native person and also just as a human being.”
Artist JayCee Beyale, who has lived in Colorado for years, said creating his mural was the completion of a long-term goal.
“I’ve dreamed about painting this wall for years and its finally come to fruition,” Beyale said.
Beyale said the purpose of his mural is to show the Native American influence on fashion.
“It’s basically just letting the hipster kids know that this fashion, the felt hats with the feathers, the sunglasses, the southwest jewelry is something that has always been cool within our culture, and who made it cool was the elders,” Beyale said.
Each artist said this Thanksgiving, they want Coloradans to know that many Native people view this holiday as a time of solemn reflection.
“It is about coming together, sharing a meal, and giving thanks but Native people definitely don’t forget what this stemmed on,” Seewalker said
Seewalker, Deal, and Beyale said through their art, they hope to encourage viewers to look at the country’s uncomfortable history and untold stories of Native people.