Violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act
While the beauty, quality, and collectability of authentic Indian arts and crafts make each piece a unique reflection of our American heritage, it is important that buyers be aware that fraudulent Indian arts and crafts compete daily with authentic Indian arts and crafts in the nationwide marketplace. This consumer fraud not only harms the buyers, it also erodes the overall Indian arts and crafts market and the economic and cultural livelihood of Indian artists, craftspeople, and Tribes. It is also against the law! It is a violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. If you become aware of any market activity that you believe may be in violation of the Act, similar to or different from the following examples, please contact the Indian Arts and Crafts Board either online or at:
Indian Arts and Crafts Board
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW MS-2528-MIB
Washington, D.C. 20240
Telephone: (202) 208-3773
Toll Free: (888) ART-FAKE
Fax: (202) 208-5196
Example 1: Retail
During a business trip to New Mexico and Arizona, Harry W. went shopping for Indian jewelry for his girlfriend. Harry W. was impressed with what was offered at a gallery near his convention center hotel as outstanding “one-of-a-kind” “handmade” Indian jewelry by Michael L., which included silver, turquoise, jet, lapis, and other apparent precious stones. The sales clerk represented Michael L. as enrolled in one of the prominent New Mexico Pueblos and reported that he produced each piece from his studio workbench. However, as Harry W. traveled throughout New Mexico and Arizona, he continued to see enormous volumes of work attributed to Michael L. as “one-of-a-kind” “handmade” Indian jewelry. As a result, he became suspicious that the work was not made by one individual, but was being mass-produced. As the various sales clerks’ stories about Michael L. contradicted one another, Harry W. also began to suspect that the jewelry was not even Indian made.
Example 2: Pow wow
Last summer, David B. and his family decided to attend a pow wow in the Midwest to experience Indian dancing, music, and craftwork first hand. After identifying a popular pow wow, David and his family attended the event where they purchased a number of items from a vendor’s booth, including Navajo rug weavings, Zuni inlay jewelry, and Hopi kachinas. For insurance purposes, David took the merchandise to a knowledgeable appraiser, only to find that the work was imported.
Example 3: Internet
Sarah T. was a long-time collector of Alaska Native crafts. In searching the Internet one evening, she found a surprising selection of well-priced Alaska Native carvings, including wooden masks and totems and ivory figurines. She purchased the carvings and requested documentation for each piece. When the shipment arrived, she became suspicious of the carving documentation. Upon further inspection, she noticed a “Made in Bali” mark on the back of one of the masks, and areas on the other pieces that appeared to have country of origin markings removed.
Example 4: Artist and Consumer
Mary B., an established potter enrolled in the Navajo Nation, has a friend who recently purchased a piece of pottery marketed as one of Mary B.’s for a deep discount from a shop in another town. When the friend showed Mary B. the new purchase, Mary B. became very upset and told him that she had not made the piece of pottery.
To Report A Potential Violation
If you wish to report a potential violation, please fill out the following information:
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