Café Cultura promotes unity and healing among Indigenous peoples through creative expression while empowering youth to find their voice, reclaim oral and written traditions, and become leaders in their communities.
Café Cultura has been providing positive, creative, and engaging community spaces for the Denver metropolitan area for more than eleven years. The idea for our organization emerged during the summer of 2004 with the passing of respected elder and veteran poet Abelardo “Lalo” Delgado. At that moment, we realized and accepted our responsibility to continue using our oral and written traditions to provide opportunities for creative expression not offered in schools or in the larger community. Café Cultura also drew inspiration from the movement connecting Indigenous people from throughout the Americas. In that spirit of Red/Brown Unity, we hoped to use creative expression to unify people representing southern Indigenous nations, known by terms such as “Chicana/o,” “Mexicana/o,” and “Latina/o,” with those Natives of northern nations, referred to today as “Native American” or “American Indian.
Café Cultura hosts one of the best open mic venues in the Denver metropolitan area, and the only space focused on family and youth. We also conduct highly engaging and culturally relevant spoken word/poetry workshops for underserved youth throughout Colorado. Café Cultura partners with select organizations and schools to facilitate an intensive workshop series, publish youth poetry, and organize participant showcases. In an effort to develop young leaders within our community, we also coordinate a youth leadership program for Indigenous youth.
Board of Directors:
Bobby LeFebre (Chair) is an award-winning writer, performer, and cultural worker from Denver, Colorado. He is a two-time Grand Slam Champion, a National Poetry Slam Finalist, an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, and a two-time TEDx speaker. His work has been showcased nationally and internationally on NPR, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian, and the LA Times. LeFebre has performed at hundreds of cultural events, social actions, detention centers, conferences, and colleges and universities across the United States and abroad. He is co-founder of Café Cultura, a non-profit organization that uses poetry as a tool for youth development and he is also founder of #WeAreNorthDenver, a grassroots and digital campaign dedicated to using art as an entry point for discussing gentrification in Denver. LeFebre has been named a 100 Colorado creative by Westword Magazine, is a National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures fellow, and has recently been appointed by the Mayor of Denver to serve as the Co-Chair of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Metro State University and a master’s degree in Art, Literature, and Culture from the University of Denver.
Christina M. Sigala, MSW, MAR (Strong Life Ways Woman, Lakota Nation) has worked on the Auraria campus at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) since 2002. She has been employed in the capacity of an affiliate faculty, visiting professor, professor, student academic advisor, and the Interim Associate Director of Women’s Studies. Her children, Davi and Jevon, and her Grandkisses, Aysia - Flowering Robe, Davi Jr- Peaceful Hawk and Rhian Jae–She Who Stands By The Moon-Morning Star, and her Great-Grandson Cruz Jerimiah, are the most important elements weaved into the fabric of her life, along with her traditional and spiritual way of living and being. She is grateful to be on the Board of Café Cultura.
Hannabah Blue (Secretary)
-Alumnus, New York University
-Alumnus, Harvard University (Master of Public Health)
-Public Health Services Project Manager, American Indian Public Health Resource Center
-Alumnus, University of Washington
-Associate Professor, University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work
-Student, La Academia @ Denver Inner City Parish
Ara Cruz (Executive Director)
-Alumnus, University of Colorado at Boulder
-Student, Regis University (Master of Nonprofit Management)
Alejandro Jimenez is an emerging spoken word artist from Colima, Mexico. He works with youth in Southwest Denver and has been a Cafe Cultura Collective member for nearly 2 yrs. Having lived undocumented for the majority of his life in the United States, his poetry focuses on the daily struggles lived as an immigrant, the pressures and responsibilities from identifying as an Indigenous man of color, and the barriers he sees facing the communities he identifies with. Alejandro is also the 2011 Su Teatro Barrio Slam champion and the first Latino/a to accomplish such a feat.
Born and raised in Denver, Ara Cruz is a Xicano/Indigenous (Mexica/Tiwa) spoken word artist, educator, and organizer. Graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Ethnic Studies (emphasis in Chicana/o and American Indian Studies), Ara used the experience he gained in campus and community organizing through MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan), Oyate (Native student group), and other organizations to co-found Café Cultura. For several years, he has taught numerous spoken word workshops for youth as well as performed at high schools, conferences, universities, and community events. Having released a book and CD entitled "A Journey in Red and Black Ink," Ara has coordinated 2 tours, performing in San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, Del Rio (TX), El Paso, Tucson, Albuquerque, and Española (NM).
Bobby LeFebre is a Denver-born award-winning spoken word artist, actor, and social worker. He is a two time Grand Slam Champion, a National Poetry Slam Finalist, an Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist, and has been a member of three National Poetry Slam Teams. LeFebre holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and is an Arts and Culture Master's Candidate at the University of Denver.
My name is David Ocelotl Garcia. I am a Mexican artist and have been blessed with a creative energy that allows me to express myself through many mediums, including sculpture, painting, music and dance. The purpose of my art is not only for visual beauty but also for visual education. I create it to enlighten the mind, body and soul. Through these expressions I am able to relive my past, rich in tradition, art, music, and dance. Through many unconscious emotions, deep energies and personal visions, I transcend time and tell the story of my past, present and future.
Derek Brown (Dine') was born in Denver CO and raised in Flagstaff, AZ a border-town outside The Navajo Nation. He received his bachelor's degree at The Art Institute of Colorado in Digital Film making & Video Production. Through the use of graphic design, commercial art, film and video, Derek uses his creativity and skills to bring more awareness and strength to the Native American community. His collaboration in the Sand Creek Spiritual Healing Run/Walk was nominated for the 2009 Regional Heartland Chapter Emmy Award, and is currently assisting Rocky Mountain PBS in an Urban Indian Relocation documentary. He has assisted in many Native American projects, and is excited to broaden his horizons by exploring opportunities for his versatile career.
Hello, I am the Start of the Red Streak People born for the Water's Edge Clan. My maternal grandparents are the Under His Covers Clan and my paternal grandparents are the Nakota people. My name is Desirea Lisa LaMotte. My parents are Terrilyn and Dewayne LaMotte. I have six younger sisters and one older sister. I have two younger brothers. I was blessed with 4 nephews and 1 niece. My maternal grandparents are Milton and the Late Alberta Thompson. My Nalis are Rosita and Sammy Jim. I am originally from a little community called Ganado located in Arizona. This is who I am as a Navajo woman.
Born and raised in Denver, Eden merges her inspirations from her children with her Indigenous roots (Mexikah, Dine',Lakota and San Felipe Pueblo) to create spoken word. Through traditional Aztec and Jingle/Pow-Wow dancing, she is teaching her sons the traditions of their people. In collaboration with Cafe Cultura, Medicine Heart Dancers, and Grupo Tlaloc, Eden has been organizing youth workshops, compiling scholarships, and coordinating fundraisers. Eden is currently composing a spoken word/photography book called "Tracing the Foot Prints of Eden."
Hannabah Blue is Dine’ (Navajo), originally from Kirtland, NM. Her clans are the Red Bottom Clan, born for Bilagaana. Her maternal grandparents’ clan is the Tangle People Clan, and her paternal grandparents are also Bilagaana. She is currently a Capacity Building Assistance Specialist at the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center (NNAAPC) where she coordinates technical assistance and HIV prevention interventions targeting Native women. She has a double major in Broadcast Journalism/Gender and Sexuality Studies from NYU, is working towards a Maternal and Child Health Graduate Certificate focusing on Native women through the University of Arizona, and was recently accepted to the Harvard School of Public Health where she will pursue of Masters of Science degree in the Department of Society, Human Development and Health. She also serves on the Board of the Café Cultura, which promotes creative expression and leadership among Indigenous and Latino youth.
Jozer is originally from El, Paso Texas. He attends the University of Denver and hopes to graduate in 2014. Jozer teaches poetry workshops and performs for young students all over the state. This year, Jozer managed to become the youth grand slam city champion. His team went out to the international competition and took third in the world! He has also been featured on the HBO series "Brave New Voices" and has a few Ted talks online. His mission is to educate and gift struggling kids like him the power of words.
As part of an emerging generation of dynamic young leaders, Julie Gonzales works in various capacities to build strong and lasting coalitions around immigrant justice, educational reform, and workers' rights. She has been involved with the Cafe Cultura Collective for the past six years and is proud to help create such a powerful intergenerational space to think critically about the myriad complicated issues facing our communities. Julie was born on the San Carlos Apache reservation in Arizona, and grew up along the south Texas borderlands. Her family has deep old-school Chicano roots in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico and she is blessed to call Denver home.
Born in the state of Illinois but raised in Aurora, CO, Marisela Zepeda had no problem making the state home. She fell in love with creative writing since the first short story she wrote at the age of 15. A couple of years after, she wrote a poem entitled "Individuality." This poem was published later in an anthology that was distributed to select colleges across the U.S. Although she took a break from writing, she started up again about 5 years ago working with a nonprofit organization called Café Cultura. Since then, she has been working on her collection of pieces that will later turn into a book.
Mat Barkhausen was born and raised in Denver, Colorado, but his people are the Skarure' Kahte'nu'aka, the indigenous nations in North Carolina and Virginia known in English as the Tuscarora/Meherrin/Nottoway. Mat has a BA in interactive media design from the Art Institute of Colorado, and is pursuing an MA in Political Science at the University of Colorado Denver. Mat works as a creative professional for the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center, where he designs culturally responsive HIV/AIDS awareness, education, and prevention materials for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Mat's vision is to continue his education either as a PhD or return to law school to continue to advocate for the human rights of indigenous peoples.
Tanaya Winder is from the Southern Ute and Duckwater Shoshone Nations. She graduated from Stanford University in 2008 with a BA in English. Tanaya was a finalist in the 2009 Joy Harjo Poetry Competition and a winner of the A Room Of Her Own Foundation's Spring 2010 Orlando prize in poetry. Her poems have appeared in Cutthroat magazine, Yellow Medicine Review, Adobe Walls, and Superstition Review, amongst others. She teaches composition and introduction to creative writing at the University of New Mexico where she is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry.
Growing up alongside her grandfather, poet Lalo Delgado, Vanessa Delgado has become socially conscious to the issues facing Latinos/as. She has also learned how the arts can empower communities, which is one of the sole reasons she continues to write and be an active member in my community. She has a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Metropolitan State College of Denver and a Master's degree in Communication from the University of Colorado at Denver. Aside from her volunteer work with Café Cultura, she is a board member for the Colorado Latino Forum. She works as a public affairs specialist for the Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Office.