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Native American Arts & Crafts

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  • Native American Arts & Crafts

    All information has been supplied in good faith but users should not regard it as authoritative, or assume that there have been no subsequent changes.


    The Indian Arts and Crafts Act dates back to 1935 and was intended to protect the cultural and artistic heritage and income derived from contemporary items frequently copied on a commercial basis by non-Indians – such as jewelry, pottery, baskets, carved stone fetishes, woven rugs, kachina figures, clothing etc. The Indian Arts and Craft Board was established as an agency in 1934, with responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Act, which was extensively revised in 1990. Details here (together with subsequent amendments linked at the right hand side):

    The Act applies to the marketing of arts and crafts by any person in the United States and (at the time of writing: June 2014) its main consequences are that it:

    - Applies to products, but not to “services” (so an instructional flint-knapping course would not be covered, for example).

    - Prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of American Indian or Alaskan Native arts and crafts. A product may not be marketed using the name of a tribe if a member, or certified Indian artisan, if that tribe did not actually create the art or craft item.

    - Prohibits displaying for sale, or selling any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States.

    - Sets first-time violation penalties up to $250,000 and/or 5 years in prison for an individual; and fines up to $1,000,000 for a business together with the possibility of civil penalties.

    - Defines an “Indian tribe” as any band, nation, Alaska Native village, or any organized group or community which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians; or any Indian group that has been formally recognized as an Indian tribe by a State legislature or by a State commission or similar organization legislatively vested with State tribal recognition authority.

    In addition, the Act relies on the US Department of the Interior advice that for the purposes of the Act “an Indian is defined as a member of any federally or State recognized Indian Tribe, or an individual certified as an Indian artisan by an Indian Tribe.”


    As the Act stands, it unintentionally discriminates against Native Americans whose tribal affiliation has not been officially recognized – prohibiting them from selling arts and crafts with any affirmation of their Indian heritage. The Act does however allow for individuals with tribal ancestry who are not eligible for enrolment to be “designated as an Indian artisan by a particular tribe” if certified in writing by the tribal government.

    There’s a series of links concerning fake and misrepresented Indian arts and crafts and the impact that they have here:
    Last edited by painshill; 01-31-2016, 08:42 AM.
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.