Native American Indian Commission

2022 Community Elected Commissioner Candidate

Shawn Imitates Dog

Candidate Biography

I have been involved in the American Indian and Alaskan Native community for over 15 years. I’ve sat on various boards throughout the Los Angeles Indian community.

During my time with the Southern California Indian Center, we did a handful of events promoting jobs in the entertainment industry for our community members. We hosted a series of panels and trainings with Human Resources professionals across the entertainment sector, that is something I hope to continue doing with other Native organizations. Many times, our community may not know of different career opportunities within the industry, and I would like to bring more visibility to them.

Throughout my time volunteering in the community, I’ve done various fundraisers with nonprofits to help support initiatives they had, including Annual Heritage Month Pow Wows, City Hall events organized by the Commission or Councilman Mitch O’Farrell’s office.

Over the past five years while on the Commission, I have sat on the Pow Wow committee to help make it happen. In addition, I was on the Indigenous Peoples Day committee and Native Heritage Committee to help executive community events with Councilman O’Farrell’s office.

I was also one of the original members of Red Circle Project and helped organize many of their community events over the years, including their Pow Wow that ran 10 years before the program closed.

I am also currently involved with the Autry’s Native Voices as a Native Voices Support Committee to help bring more awareness and visibility to the program. Many of my dear friends are actors with the Native Voices at the Autry, and I want to continue helping bring light to the great work they do for our community. Many of our Native Voices members have gone off to do great work in major Hollywood productions and I feel this work needs to continue happening locally to create this talent pipeline and get on the big screen.

I’ve also organized many social gatherings for our Lakota community here in Los Angeles. It is very important we continue with the social gatherings to share stories, meals, our language, and our dance. When we initially started our gatherings, we had four Lakota elders that participated and told us to continue doing these as its very important for us to keep that sense of community in a large urban area. These words stuck with me and as we continue to come out of the pandemic, I will push to continue with these for the next generation.

While my profession is in the corporate sector, I have always used my role and connections to help organize different events, including fundraisers at my employer, youth outing at hockey games, or got a suite at a hockey or basketball game for our youth and elders. I truly love working in our Indian Community in this capacity and want to continue doing so. The Los Angeles Indian Community is my family and I truly enjoy the work I get to do with them, and I hope to continue as a Commissioner.

Wopila Tanka

Candidate Statement

There are three areas of interest for me with the Commission that I would like to focus on: funding, career placements, and cultural/community events.

I was raised by my late grandmother Jennie Imitates Dog, who is also a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe from South Dakota. She spent the last 15 years of her life with me in Los Angeles. Majority of those years she was a client at United American Indian Involvement in their elder program. I recall those mornings she would get ready as she was so excited to get picked up and spend the day with other Native elders. The look on her face when she came home after a long day was priceless. The experience UAII gave her was something I will never forget, and I feel the Commission is a great resource for our Indian Organizations to continue doing the great work they do so other elders can have that same experience my grandmother had.

During COVID we had to do most events virtually, which was still a great way to keep us all connected through a tough time but coming out of this pandemic it is important to get back to community events. Being a Native, especially ones that has relocated from their homelands, it is tough, and our only sense of family out here can be our larger Indian community.

During my five years on the Commission, I have been honored to be a part of the planning committee that organized our community events. There is nothing more rewarding than bringing everyone together for a cultural celebration and seeing familiar faces. My hope is to continue with these events to give our community a place to come together for celebration and connectivity.


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