DENVER — A group of young Indigenous artists is taking it upon themselves to make sure their traditions aren't forgotten.
Now, their work is hanging in one of the most prominent galleries in the state -- the Denver Art Museum -- where everyone can learn about their heritage.
One of these artists, Sophie Hill, makes beadwork in her kitchen. That's where lessons passed down for generations come to life.
"When I create, I think about all of the beadwork that has been made before me and how me making the work that I make is going to set the stage for the next generation of beaders," Hill said.
Hill is a young Ojibwe artist committed to keeping her culture alive. Hanging on her wall is a pouch that belonged to her great-grandfather.
"We are all simultaneously responsible for making sure that these culturally cherished traditions move on," she said. "If someone taught you, you should pay it forward by teaching someone else."
At the Denver Art Museum, the art learned from Hill's ancestors is shared with future generations.
"If they can come through on a museum field trip and see my work on display, I want them to know that their work can be on display one day," Hill said.
Cameron Maldonado, a Lakota Oglala artist who has work on display, said the showcase spotlights her heritage.
"It's a little scary, honestly," she said. "I've always wanted to have a piece in the art museum. I thought I had to be one of the greats."
Maldonado said growing up, she struggled with embracing her Indigenous identity.
"I did suffer a lot of bullying and a lot of backlash for trying to be more expressive and embrace my culture," she said.
"What I feel or what I portray, I can put it into something that hopefully someone else can connect and understand with," Maldonado said.
The exhibit is on display in a Denver Art Museum space that features rotating exhibits made by artists in the community.
The museum is planning to put a call out for more Indigenous art pieces in the coming months, and they hope more artists are inspired to submit their work.
"I hope that they learn that not only do we still exist, but that we are a really strong and prominent culture," Hill said.
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