Image by Hulleah Tsinhnahijinnie (Seminole/Muskogee/Dine)

apolonia susana santos


TRIBE: Tygh, Yakama

MEDIUM: Paintings

LOCATION: Warm Springs, Oregon





Apolonoia Santos...artist, historian, and traditional fisherwoman. Susana spent her life as a long time environmental activist who has committed much of her life to safeguarding traditional fishing societies and practices along the Columbia River. Her struggle with ovarian cancer brought her home and on a personal journey of spiritual transformation and artistic growth. She created art as an effort to 'manifest and explore the human spirit and to heal the wounded spirits."  Susana's healing work and practice was inspired from prayers and ceremonies of medicine societies and people throughout the world, the Canadian and Amazon rainforests, Hawaiian Islands, Mexico and other Indigenous and interfaith communities. Susana believed strongly that for their continued survival, "the next generation [of youth] may very well be dependent on our art and how we act today."

"“I am of the Tygh and Yakama Nations through my Matrilineal line. My heritage as a Traditional Fishing Woman has led me to understand the natural sciences and the study of the relationship between medicinal and healing arts. This living legacy of ceremonial practice is a rich source of knowledge that guides me. This is the basis of my artistic philosophy." - Susana Santos

"Susana has always been so generous with herself. Through sharing her skills and talents with others, especially the youth, she has assisted directly in the transformation of many lives through artistic expression, cultural teaching, and by providing valuable information she has learned along her path about caring for our Mother Earth and all she provides us."  - Susan Balbas, Nominator