Itsa Shash is a Native American storyteller, poet, and musician descended from Indeh (Apache), Mexica (Aztec), and Xicano Indio peoples. Raised in southern Colorado, Itsa now resides in Washington state with his partner Mariana Harvey of the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. Itsa has been bringing social stories and music to schools and social gatherings since he was 4 years old. It is a means to preserve culture, empower community, and share wisdom and joy.
"My father used to tell me that we have to continue singing and dancing, just as the birds singing in the morning make the world a happier place."
Itsa's music is deeply inspired by his Native American heritage, particularly from growing up emersed in Sundance, Mexica danza, the Native American Church, and powwow culture. He began learning traditional music unborn, while his mother moved and sang to the heartbeat of the drum.
"When creating a song, our feeling goes into it. We have to be in a good place. So if we are not in a good place, we have wait until we've worked through it, so that we can return to that good place and continue working on the song"
Itsa Shash is an advocate for Indigenous intertribal solidarity. He directed the Bala Sinem (Red People) Choir, an intertribal college class empowering Native American students through mentorship and the sharing of cultural song. They performed with such artists as NAMMY award winner Moiety and Grammy Award winner Bill Miller. Since moving the Pacific Northwest in 2012, Itsa has received guidance and support from the Northwest Indian Storytellers Association.
"I want to acknowledge the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. I raise my hands up and say thank you for welcoming me to your homelands, sharing your wisdom and good hearts. May we continue to lift up the people together.