MISSOULA - The dedication ceremonies for the Beartracks Bridge in downtown Missoula included a First People's Market by Indigenous Made Missoula.
The organization which is led by women to promote a diverse network of Indigenous creators is just getting started in celebrating the work of Indigenous artists.
“I have my parfleche designs which are, these are all designs and icons that have been used in our tribe for hundreds of years,” explained artist Oyetonga Wi.
“We use every part of everything that we take because there's a reason for it there and there's a purpose for everything,” Wi continued.
Wi has been creating art her entire life. Her passion started young, watching and working with her relatives.
And her business bloomed when she decided to continue the legacy and sell her craft.
“There's not very much representation for indigenous people when it comes to the art world,” Wi said.
“Art is a huge integral part of Indigenous culture from generations and generations back,” explained Indigenous Made Missoula co-founder Dacia Griego.
That’s where the work of Griego and her business partner comes into play, as the founders of Indigenous Made Missoula.
They met through art and found there was little to no representation of Ingenuous makers.
“There's a deficit here in Missoula that we don't see a lot of that yet. So, our goal is really to bring that to the forefront and to have representation in different spaces in Missoula,” Griego told MTN News.
Organizers say the group was needed and was created to empower and support Indigenous makers, as well as to educate non-Indigenous people.
“We want to be here to help prevent fraud and cultural appropriation and just educating the community on those issues as well,” Griego told MTN News.
“Having people around in the community who know others who network with others who can communicate and things not get lost in translation,” Wi said. “That is kind of a big part is we get overwhelmed and confused by a lot of things that seem important to the art world but are not important to our art world.”
You can keep up to date with events the group hosts by following them on Instagram @indigenousmademissoula.