We had the good fortune of connecting with Chelsea Kaiah and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chelsea, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
My business is a representation of my experience as a Native woman, but also a representation of my culture. My beadwork creates conversations about blood quantum, MMIW, mixed-race identity, and how to heal with good medicine. It creates dialogue of contemporary issues Native folk face, but also spreads knowledge to other non-Native folk about our challenges. Beadwork is a universal language used by different cultures across the world. It is a carrier of stories, future, and past. It’s important to any voice to speak up and represent what they can do and can contribute, especially for communities that are underrepresented.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I was born on the Northern Ute reservation, and later moved around a lot, eventually settling into Denver Colorado. Denver resides in my ancestral homeland and is why I decided it’s important for my practice to hold space here. Realizing I needed to be closer to community, was a journey in itself. Professionally, and creatively location really influenced me. My connection to land and culture drives a lot of my practice, and now being able to directly give back to my community and participate was something I never dreamed of having again. My art isn’t what I want it to be, I realized, if I’m not close to community, the land, and family. Today I know traditional crafts of pine needle weaving, buffalo hunting, hide making, and beadwork. While also exploring contemporary practices of painting, sculptures, and photography mixed within the traditional practices. The storytelling of interweaving personal perspective with culture and trained artistic skills is all thanks to listening to the inner needs of what I wanted to offer as a creative.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am a ride or die Tocabe, an American Indian eatery fan. I take everyone that visits me on the day they have their delicious buffalo ribs. They also have amazing green chilli stew. But really what is always my favorite thing to do is cruise in the mountains, go on a few easyish hikes like St. Mary’s Glacier with beautiful views.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Women are the ultimate culture carriers in Native communities. Thank you to all the care, conversations, lessons, and advice the women in my life have given me. My dad for also entrusting me to learn buffalo hunting. And the local Denver art community for showing me beadwork can be a cultural zeitgeist.

Website: chelseakaiah.com

Instagram: chelsea.kaiah

Other: tik tok- @chelseakaiah ( I post in process beadwork videos)

Image Credits
First image of me + bag is by Jason Sinn Photography www.jasonsinnphotography.com Photos of artwork is done by me ( no credit needed) they are just scans/ and or gallery shots You could mention first few images for art ( no colored background) were part of an exhibition at Friend of a Friend gallery “Second Skin, First Body” with Ry La.

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