Throughout her career within the entertainment industry, Dawn Jackson has established herself as a liaison to the American Indian community. She is an enrolled member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and has served as an elected Los Angeles City/County American Indian Commissioner since 1994. As one of the five community-elected Commissioners, she also serves on the Self Governance Board.
In her twenty-four years of service as a Commissioner, she has served in a variety of capacities including press liaison during the White House Urban Policy Initiative (during the Clinton administration), graphic designer and community-hearing officer. More recently, Dawn curated the Bridge Gallery art exhibit at Los Angeles City Hall, featuring the art of local community artists and served on the steering committee of the inaugural Indigenous People’s Day.
Early in her career, Dawn served as the Chair of the American Indian Registry for the Performing Arts, providing script approvals, casting and cultural consultants for films & TV productions. In 1992 she co-founded First Americans in the Arts (FAITA), serving as Chairman of the Board and Producer of an annual awards show to showcase and empower American Indians in the entertainment industry. For over seventeen years FAITA gave out over 300 outstanding achievement awards, as well as filmmaking scholarships to American Indians in film, TV, music and theatre.
Dawn joined The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) in 1993 working in product design, brand marketing and creative development. In 2005 she took on the role of Executive Director of the American Indian National Center for TV & Film, a historic partnership between the ABC, CBS and FOX TV networks to provide access and opportunities to American Indians. For over twenty-five years Dawn has continued to work with business units throughout TWDC utilizing her knowledge of tribal cultures to provide culturally authentic products, talent casting, language translations and inclusion filters. She is currently the Studio Manager of Story Development at Walt Disney Imagineering.
As an independent film producer, Ms. Jackson has served as a producer on three documentaries for PBS, including MANKILLER (2018) and the feature film, NATURALLY NATIVE, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in1999 and aired on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) in 2010. In 2015 she served as a curator of Through Indian Eyes: 100 years of Native Cinema, a two-year retrospective and traveling film program, in association with the UCLA School of Film & Television.
Ms. Jackson serves as a board member of the American Indian Scholarship Fund of Southern California and was recently appointed to the Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative Advisory Committee of the LA County Arts Commission.
Statement on Desire to be a LANAIC Commissioner
Serving as a community-elected Commissioner over the past twenty-four years has been a rewarding experience. My commitment and desire to empower and give voice to our community has never wavered. I have always considered my service to the LA Native community a blessing and responsibility that my ancestors would expect of me as a Chippewa woman. Whether I am in Michigan on my reservation or in the LA urban community, I look for ways to meet the needs of Native people from all walks of life, and ensure we have a culturally rich community to pass onto future generations.