Tesoro Cultural Center celebrates American Indian art, culture and veterans at annual Indian market

Tesoro Cultural Center, Colorado’s 501(c)(3) nonprofit committed to protecting the artistic treasures of our American past and making them available to the community, is once again hosting its annual weekend-long community event, Indian Market, June 5-6, 2021. Tickets are available online now. Since its inception, Tesoro has hosted community events inspired by Colorado’s rich history and shared experiences with Southwest, Spanish, Mexican, American Indian, Black and early European cultures. 

Hosted on the grounds of The Fort restaurant (19192 Hwy. 8, Morrison) Saturday, June 5, and Sunday, June 6, Tesoro Cultural Center’s Indian Market is a yearly tribute to the American Indian tribes that shaped the cultural community of Old Bent’s Fort, an important fur trading post that operated along the famous Santa Fe Trail in the 1840s. In celebration of early Southwestern history, Tesoro hosts nationally acclaimed American Indian artists, dancers and drum groups for an art-centered gathering and juried art show, as well as educational and interactive exhibits – including demonstrations by Nature’s Educators – on American Indian culture for a fun-filled, family weekend. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the two-day contest powwow will not take place this year. 

The Southern Cheyenne Nation – displaced from their Colorado homeland after the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 and since residing in Oklahoma – will return home to Red Rocks Country to preside over the ceremonies at this year’s Indian Market. George Curtis Levi (Southern Cheyenne, Arapaho, Oglala) is Tesoro’s Ceremonial Director, and has organized the Cheyenne color guard, drummers and singers; head man and head woman dancer; and blessing to take place at the Tesoro Member-exclusive Meet the Artists party on Friday, June 4, on The Fort’s patio. 

Alongside celebrations of art, dance performances and cultural heritage, Tesoro’s Indian Market honors outstanding American Indian veterans each year with an intimate, engaging ceremony to thank them for their service. This year’s honoree is Vietnam veteran and nationally acclaimed artist, Harvey Pratt (Southern Cheyenne Nation). Pratt, alongside many other Southern Cheyenne, is a direct descendent of William Bent, founder of the original Bent’s Fort, and Owl Woman: a high ranking Cheyenne woman and daughter of White Thunder, a well-respected medicine man in the 1830s.

Pratt was recently awarded a commission by the Smithsonian to create a War Memorial for American Indian and all Indigenous veterans who fought and died in War throughout the ages.  This meaningful installation was unveiled on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2020, at the Smithsonian American Indian Museum in Washington, D.C.  

“It’s truly our pleasure to honor Harvey Pratt at our Indian Market this year, especially as his War Memorial so recently debuted on the National Mall,” said Holly Arnold Kinney, Tesoro’s Executive Director. “As a direct descendent of Owl Woman and William Bent, Harvey’s personal family history is very much intertwined with my own history of our Fort, and an important demonstration of how all of our histories here in Colorado are very much shared.” 

The festivities will kick off with a Tesoro Member-exclusive Meet the Artists party on Friday, June 4, on The Fort’s patio. The Indian Market on June 5 and 6 is an outside event and open to the public; admission is $10 for adults and free for children 12 and under. All CDC protocols will be in place.

All events are subject to approval by the Colorado and Jefferson County Department of health restrictions due to COVID 19. Check www.tesoroculturalcenter.org web site for current and final dates. 

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