Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Itsa Shash (Olympia) is a Native American storyteller, poet, and multi-talented musician and vocalist. Descended from Indeh (Apache), Nahua, and Xicano Indio peoples, raised in southern Colorado, Itsa now resides in Washington State. Itsa previously worked as the director of the Bala Sinem (Red People) Choir, and performed with NAMMY award winner Moiety and Grammy Award winner Bill Miller. Itsa is an active member of the Northwest Indian Storytellers Association.

Since he was four years old, Itsa has been bringing social stories and music to schools and social gatherings as a means to preserve culture, empower community, and share wisdom and joy. Itsa's music is deeply inspired by his Native American heritage, particularly from growing up immersed in Sundance, Mexica danza, Native American Church, and powwow culture. Before he was born, he began learning traditional music from his mother, who sang to him with the heartbeat of the drum.

Itsa received 2017 GAP Award funding for a professional music album of original compositions in honor of the Earth, Indigenous Peoples, and love. While each of the hundreds of tribes across country have songs specific to their culture, the compositions for this project are intertribal with a positive message; appropriate for gatherings of Indigenous solidarity and human beings worldwide. GAP funds will primarily pay Itsa Shash and all contributing artists for their time into the project.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

I would like to extend a very big thank you to Artist Trust! Tlazocamati! My heart is filled with gratitude that you have chosen to support my project with the 2017 GAP award. It has been a long time dream to create a professional quality music album in honor of the Earth, inspired by the songs of my ancestors. The funding from GAP will make this a reality. This project will directly support the impact of my art and cultural programs by giving me resources to diversify the places where I share and the communities I engage. In a world unfamiliar with Native American arts, individuals across the world will be able to understand that I honor life, and can easily decide if what I have to offer is right for their communities. Furthermore, the collaborations these funds will support will also give voice to other Indigenous artists and strengthen community relations. More importantly in my heart, I can leave behind the songs that have come to me through my brief lifetime of study for the future generations to come.

Itsa Shash