Artist Interview with Dan Nanamkin

Published: November 29, 2023

Categories: Artist Stories | Artists | Fall Campaign | Featured

It is important to have support, as due to COVID many of us lost opportunities we depended on to survive and thrive.


Our support for artists is powered by fundraising! As part of our effort to raise $200,000 before the end of the year, we are sharing interviews with artists from across Washington State. We ask about their hopes for the future and how we can best support artists. Read more below and make a gift today

This week we spoke with 2022 GAP recipient Dan Nanamkin. kʔupłəs ənim̓kła (thunder & lightning), from the Chief Joseph band of Nez Perce and enrolled member of the Colville Confederated tribes, has traveled nationwide as a performance artist, indigenous educator, environmental-social justice activist, storyteller, humanitarian, actor, musician, and teaching artist. His performances captivate audiences with his mixture of tribal traditional storytelling, costumes, dancing, music, combined with modern technology such as stage lighting, video, and humor. 

He is seen in numerous documentaries, news, and media regarding his courageous front-line appearance at Standing Rock and made his acting debut in Z Nation, season 5. His flute music and singing are featured on rap, reggae, indigenous films, and rock videos, as well an upcoming video game. Recently, he performed on Mainstage before the headliner acts at the Gorge Ampitheater and at the music festival next to the Tacoma Dome. Dan is currently working to debut his upcoming podcast “Honor All Life” as well in the works completing his first music album and soon an audio book regarding his front-line action thriller at Standing Rock. 

What has Artist Trust’s support meant to you?

I live in a rural impoverished sector of Washington State where the indigenous people have less access to funding or philanthropy. This support has benefited my personal mission to bring my art into the communities that I hope to inspire during this harsh pandemic we are all enduring. It has encouraged me to continue to create the vision that I have to further evolve my performance arts, such as music, video, dance, storytelling, and artwork that is immersed in our Indigenous culture. As a result, I am gaining more opportunities to share powerful educational components across NCW to bring awareness to all youth and every community I reach and beyond.

What are your hopes for the future of artists in Washington State? What would an ideal world look like for artists?

I hope to promote more indigenous arts/artists statewide on a larger scale. Our art is very diverse and distinctive in every area that we live in. This contains art such as: clothing, music, dance, natural fibers, basketry, as well as all the modern art and the combination of our traditional and modern arts which is quickly impacting the world. Furthermore, our arts would reach far and wide into all our school districts, which can benefit children of every race, culture, and identity. Furthermore, it helps all youth to gain stronger identities, connect to the land that we all share, and promotes a positive step toward honoring balance and humanity.

What is something you’re looking forward to with your work, practice, or community?

I am looking forward to creating some amazing content to reach a wider audience so that I can bring the voices, language, history, culture, and music of our community and share it with the world. Eventually, I would love to host art camps such as an art colony that once existed here in our little community as was described in a PBS documentary long ago. This could open a door to creating biracial connections and multimedia creations to benefit a wider array of artists.

What support do you think artists and artist communities need right now, and in the future? Why is it important to support individual artists right now?

It is important to have support, as due to COVID many of us lost opportunities we depended on to survive and thrive. The COVID pandemic also changed tremendously each and every one of us to some degree and perception. This is a very historic moment of time we are living in and one that war looms in the air. So, this moment of time is crucial, it can create awareness of environmental and social justice issues to a generation of people who may be more apt to spark positive change for the future of mankind. For indigenous artists, we are also living in a crucial moment of history, as the last of our elders, the fluent speaking elders who share pearls of ancient wisdom, songs, and creation stories, as well as protocols, can help us to create a bridge to the youth of today who by large have become more disconnected to the culture due to lack of support or resources.  

Why do you think it’s important for people to support Artist Trust as donors?

As a recipient of support, I am thankful and have hopes that funding shall increase opportunities for indigenous artists, POC, and people living in impoverished and underserved communities where we mostly do not have financial opportunities to excel our arts. 

We hope you will join us in supporting Washington State artists! To make your tax-deductible donation today, visit


2023Artist StoryDan NanamkinFall Appeal