Oral Histories

Interview of Shawn Imitatesdog

HR employee for the House of Blues Entertainment, Anschutz Entertainment Group, Equinox Fitness, and the Creative Artists Talent Agency. Oglala member of the Lakota Nation.
American Indian Studies M200A Student Interviews
American Indian History
Biographical Note:
HR employee for the House of Blues Entertainment, Anschutz Entertainment Group, Equinox Fitness, and the Creative Artists Talent Agency. Oglala member of the Lakota Nation.
Rhadigan, Ryan
Imitatesdog, Shawn
Persons Present:
Imitatesdog and Rhadigan.
Place Conducted:
Glendale, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Ryan Rhadigan; M.A., American Indian Studies, UCLA.Students from M200A prepared for the interviews by reviewing relevant materials pertaining to the guidelines of the Center for Oral History Research and the parameters of the course.
Processing of Interview:
The transcript is a verbatim transcription of the recording. It was transcribed by a professional transcribing agency using a list of proper names and specialized terminology supplied by the interviewer. Inmatesdog was then given an opportunity to review the transcript and corrections and additions. Those corrections were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
3 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The interviews in the series American Indian Studies M200A Student Interviews were done by master's students in American Indians Studies M200A. Each student conducted a life history with one person of Native ancestry. The first year the class was offered, the interviews focused on the narrators' work histories. In the second year of the class, the students conducted a more general life history.
Shawn Imitatesdog’s personal background--His mother and grandparents’ background--Siblings--Relationship with his father--Raised by grandparents in Martin, South Dakota--Summers in Allen, South Dakota--Lack of amenities in household--Work and leisure time--Oglala Lakota heritage--The teaching of language, culture, and dancing--Lakota as the first language of household--His great grandfather--His interest in family history--Relation to Chief Bad Wound--Life outside of Martin (non-reservation)--Sunrise Housing (reservation land)--Bennett County schools--Kindergarten through the third grade--His experience of a Christian school--Small class size--Christian school curriculum--Grandparents not religious even though grandmother’s father was an Episcopalian minister--His grandparents’ education--Grandfather as a janitor and bus driver for Allen Day School--His grandparents work as farmhands--His grandparents’ work on ranches --Powwows and recreation--Lack of transportation--Grandfather’s work ethic--Racial tensions in Martin--First paid employment--Second summer youth program--Hiring practices, nepotism, and the interview process--His job at a cafe in Martin--Summer working at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California--His job as a dishwasher at a steak house in Martin--His promotion to waiting tables and bar tending--A description of social dances--His high school experience-- Balancing study and work--Partying--The death of his grandfather--Life with his extended family in a two-bedroom home--Bear Creek Powwow--Camping, memorial dinners, and games-- He learns to dance--His uncle’s dance group--His decision to switch from the traditional style dancing to grass dancing--The process of learning traditional dance--Competitive vs. social aspects of powwow dancing and prize money--The dance group travels to California--Origins of his dance team--Funding and rehearsals--Traveling with the dance team--Sandy Moss as the funder for the team’s travel--A Greyhound bus to California--His week-long dancing trip--On being mistook for a foreign visitor--Contact with Sandy after trip--Sandy invites Shawn and his sister for a California visit--Shawn and his sister fly to California--His summer job in California--His work at Magic Mountain--Sandy’s property management company--Hired at Magic Mountain doing merchandise sales, training, and work skills--Competition with other Magic Mountain employees--The money saved from his summer work--Purchases with newfound income--The negative results of excessive partying--Sandy’s ultimatum--His return to California to finish school--Shawn intentionally breaks off contacts--Starts school in California--Working on weekends--Cleanup after earthquake--His completion of high school--Junior college--New work at a cosmetics company--His return visit to the reservation--Maintaining contacts with mother/grandmother--Works full-time at cosmetics company--Withdrawal from junior college--More on partying--His return to school--His full-time day job and part-time night club work--Life in West Hollywood--His childhood aspirations to become a lawyer--More on the cosmetics company--Repackaging cosmetics and his new interest in business and marketing--His brief time in Denver--He meets his romantic partner--His work as a personal assistant on “Miracle in the Woods” film set--Job duties on the “Miracle in the Wood” set--Personal interest in film and television--His relationship with the director--His decision to continue working in non-film jobs--His full-time position in the HR department at House of Blues--His ten years at the House of Blues.
Shawn Imitatesdog’s grandparents and the Bennett Co.--His siblings, Beau, Agnes, and Celeste and his relationship with Celeste--Return visits to Martin, SD--His South Dakota diner--How he opened the diner--The larger mission of the diner--The history behind the diner’s name-- Imitatesdog’s work with a local contractor--Local reaction to the renovated building--Hostility from white residents--The bar and casino portions of the operation--Obstacles encountered during a supply trip to Rapid City, SD--Opening day for the diner--Initial business success-- Selling the diner business--Inspiration for entrepreneurship--The challenges of mixing family and business--Difference in the California and South Dakota business environments--The challenge of recruiting experienced management--Difficulties in operating a small town business--Increased hostilities from the local population--Alleviation measures--The lack of Native Indian support--Possible reasons for the deficiency in Native Indian clientele-- Balancing Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG )work and restaurant management-- The restaurant scene in Martin--AEG and his position as senior director of HR--Takeover of entertainment complex in Stockholm--Other international club openings in China, South Africa, London etc.--Properties managed by AEG in Los Angeles (Staples Center, etc.)--Merchandising for World Cup in South Africa--International employment laws--Career trainers and mentors--Reasons for leaving House of Blues for AEG--The Live Nation buy-out--House of Blues employee exodus--AEG recruitment--Work relationships at House of Blues--The relocation of his sister, Celeste, to Los Angeles-- Business travel--Separation from partner--His first residential property, a Valencia condo--His second residential purchase in Glendale--Friendships in L.A.--Continued relationships with his House of Blues friends--His estrangement from Sandy--His relationships with his mother and former employer--His grandmother living under his care--The Lakota language--Indian identity across state lines--On his being excluded from the local Indian community--His introduction to Elton Ozwood--Involvement with the American Indian Studies Center (AISC) at UCLA--Politics and prejudices in the American Indian community--Indian identity in the workplace--His induction into the AISC board--Imitatesdog’s name as an ethnic identifier--HR as a career--HR in the entertainment industry--The creation of a Creative Artists Agency (CAA) program for employee advancement--His role as insider for the Native film community--Worked 10 months doing HR at Equinox Fitness--On his being recruited by the CAA talent agency--Generational differences in the workplace--Organization and tactics for focus--Technology as a workplace distraction--More reflection on his HR career--The differences between working for CAA and AEG--His adjustment to the L.A. culture--Working in the entertainment industry--“Schmoozing”--His thoughts on business networking--More on his grandmother--On living in Los Angeles-- His documentary project on the Bad Wound family, Tiospaye--The greater significance of the Tiospaye.