Senators urge crackdown on fake Indian art

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/16/2017 02:00 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The recent spread of fake Native American art and jewelry has shown the need to update how the federal government enforces laws to protect tribal artists from fraud that undercuts the value of their work, according to two U.S. senators gathering ideas Friday.

New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich were seeking input Friday from top federal officials responsible for enforcement of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act at a meeting in Santa Fe. The act makes it a crime to falsely market and sell art as Native American-made when it is not. Calls to modernize enforcement provisions have been spurred by revelations about the spread of fake Indian art.

Udall said indictments in the case have shined a bright light on decades-old difficulties.

"We've got a serious problem on our hands," Udall said in advance of the hearing. "Scammers are flooding markets with fake Indian arts and crafts — devaluing Native art and forcing Native Americans to give up their time-honored crafts."

A 2010 amendment to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act broadened provisions to allow any federal law enforcement to conduct investigations, while a 2012 agreement put the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the forefront of pursuing violations.

Meridith Stanton, executive director of the Interior Department's Indian Arts and Crafts Board, said President Donald Trump's administration has yet to review the effectiveness of the act.

Stanton's office attends events such as Santa Fe's summer Indian Market to educate shoppers and brokers about provisions of the law that applies to Indian-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935.

"You can speak or pass out brochures, and do workshops and seminars, but you still have to have the law enforcement aspect, you have to have the hammer," Stanton said.

Federal prosecutors in New Mexico are preparing for two trials in an ambitious investigation that traced falsified Native American art from manufacturers in the Philippines to galleries across the United States, from Santa Fe to Virginia and Alaska.

In October 2015, federal agents raided Indian art galleries in Albuquerque, Gallup, New Mexico, and Calistoga, California, to seize counterfeits and evidence.

Authorities have accused Nael Ali, owner of two Indian art galleries in the Old Town neighborhood of Albuquerque and another in Scottsdale, Arizona, of attributing jewelry to specific Navajo craftsman when it was actually made in the Philippines. Unwitting buyers included a gallery in Virginia and the Oneida tribe in upstate New York.

Ali and art supplier Mohammad Manasra are scheduled for trial in August on fraud charges under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. They maintain their innocence.

Subsequent indictments against four people trace counterfeit Indian jewelry from manufacturers in a village in the Philippines to galleries in Santa Fe and San Diego. The defendants could get maximum penalties of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

News

BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
07/24/2017 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – At a July 24 meeting, the Election Commission certified E.O. Smith as the Dist. 5 Tribal Council winner and Mike Shambaugh as the Dist. 9 Tribal Council winner from the July 22 runoff elections. <strong>Dist. 5</strong> Smith won his first term as Tribal Councilor by getting 52.26 percent of the vote with 347 votes. His opponent Uriah Grass received 317 votes for 47.74 percent. Smith said thanked his supporters and that it has been a “long campaign.” “I would just like to thank everybody. It’s been a very long campaign. Uriah is a good guy. I will ask his advice on some things, and I want him to know he can come to me anytime with a suggestion, and I will listen to him,” Smith said. “First thing I want to do is see our community pull together and be one. I’m going to work for everybody. I am going to be everybody’s councilman, and I am going to make the people glad they voted for me. I can’t wait to get started.” Smith will serve western Sequoyah County and part of eastern Muskogee County. <strong>Dist. 9</strong> Shambaugh earned his first term as the Dist. 9 representative after receiving 54.96 percent of the vote with 421 votes. His opponent Clifton Hughes received 345 votes for 45.04 percent. Shambaugh said he would like to thank his supporters and that he’s “fortunate” to serve Dist. 9. “I had great help on this election. I had people who stepped up and made it easy for me to mingle with the crowd. I think I’m very fortunate to serve District 9,” he said. Shambaugh will serve the southern portion of Delaware County south of Highway 20 and part of eastern Mayes County. According to results, 1,432 of the 4,517 registered voters in the two contested districts cast ballots. The more than 1,400 voters accounted for a 31.7 percent turnout. According to the EC’s calendar, candidates had until 5 p.m. on July 26 to request a recount and until 5 p.m. on July 31 to contest the election. The Tribal Council inauguration ceremony is set for 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 at the “Place Where They Play” gymnasium at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/23/2017 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is reducing services to children, senior citizens and residents with disabilities as it deals with what its director says is $30 million in budget cuts to the agency. DHS officials announced the cuts on July 11. Although the Legislature increased appropriations to the agency by $18 million over last year's spending level, Director Ed Lake says the cumulative effects of previous cuts and increasing fixed costs led to the $30 million shortfall. Lake says a freeze on child care subsidies will eliminate assistance to about 1,000 children and their families. Also, senior citizens and adults and children with disabilities will see a reduction in the number of hours of services that they receive each week. The agency also is reducing reimbursement rates to foster families.
BY KENLEA HENSON
News Writer
07/23/2017 01:45 AM
VIAN, Okla. – Candidates E.O. Smith and Uriah Grass vied for the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council’s Dist. 5 seat in a runoff election on July 22. Smith won the seat by receiving 52.26 percent of the vote or 347 votes out of 664 total votes, according to the unofficial results from the CN Election Commission. “I would just like to thank everybody. It’s been a very long campaign. Uriah is a good guy, I will ask his advice on some things, and I want him to know he can come to me anytime with a suggestion, and I will listen to him,” said Smith. “First thing I want to do is see our community pull together and be one. I going to work for everybody, I am going to be everybody’s councilman, and I am going to make the people glad they voted for me. I can’t wait to get started.” Smith said he has always been a “people person” so working for the people is his main goal as the district’s councilman. “I’m going to open an office in Vian from 9 a.m. to noon, five days a week so if you have a problem come see me and I will try to get you an answer and go to work on your problems right then,” he said. “If you can’t come during those times you can call me and we will make an appointment and I’ll meet with you. I am going to be with the people so they know that I am genuinely interested in their problems.” Grass came in close behind Smith by winning 47.74 percent of the vote or 317 votes. Grass could not be reached for a comment about the election results. As Dist. 5 councilman, Smith will be serving western Sequoyah County and part of eastern Muskogee County. The Tribal Council inauguration ceremony for elected officials will be held at 10 a.m., Aug. 14 at the “Place Where They Play” gymnasium at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
BY CHANDLER KIDD
Intern
07/23/2017 01:30 AM
JAY, Okla. – A July 22 runoff election to fill the Dist. 9 Cherokee Nation council seat may be remembered for the winner as well as the low voter turn out. Candidate Mike Shambaugh defeated candidate Clifton Hughes with 54.96 percent of the vote or 421 votes. Hughes received 45.04 percent or 345 votes. In official results, only 766 voters participated in the runoff election. Voting took place at precincts in the towns of Jay, Kansas, Kenwood and Salina. Dist. 9 include the southern portion of Delaware County south of Hwy. 20 and part of eastern Mayes County. Shambaugh reacted to the win in an enthusiastic tone. He thanked his supporters and said he wanted to rest for a couple of days before working on his council agenda. “I had great help on this election. I had people who stepped up and made it easy for me to mingle with the crowd. I think I’m very fortunate to serve District 9,” Shambaugh said. “Personally I want to relax for a couple of days. Whenever you campaign every day until 11:30 at night or later it wears on you.” Although Hughes was not the winning candidate, he was still willing to comment about the runoff election. Hughes said he is proud of his hard work and campaign. “I just want to thank my supporters and (say) that I ran an honest campaign,” Hughes said. Shambaugh and the other council candidates who their races in June and in the runoff election will be sworn in to office at 10 a.m., Aug. 14 in the “Place Where They Play gymnasium at Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
07/22/2017 02:00 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Officials say ancient artifacts discovered at an Oklahoma Department of Transportation construction site will be sent to the Sam Noble Museum in Norman. Oklahoma City television station KOKH reports that crews preparing for a bridge replacement project in east central Oklahoma found the artifacts several years ago. According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, workers found large fire pits and obsidian rock that isn't local to Oklahoma. Scott Sundermeyer is program director for ODOT's cultural resources program. He says the artifacts may be from Wichitan-affiliated tribes and are about 3,000 to 4,000 years old. He says the last of the artifacts was removed from the site late last year, and that the construction project won't be delayed.
BY STAFF REPORTS
07/21/2017 01:30 PM
PARIS – Airman First Class and Cherokee Nation citizen Mason Turman was one of many United States service members who helped lead the parade down Champs Elysees on July 14 in honor of France’s Bastille Day. Turman, who is in the U.S. Air Force, marched with fellow members of the U.S. Air Forces Europe Force down the Champs-Elysees in the annual event. However, this year marked the first time the American military led the parade. This year’s theme was “Operational Together,” and it highlighted the close relationship among all the French security services and with the Americans. While France is America’s oldest ally, the United States would not have won the Revolution without French sailors winning the Battle of the Chesapeake against the English in 1783. The modern version of the alliance dates to World War I. The 2017 Bastille Day Parade was almost exactly 100 years from when 14,000 American soldiers arrived in France as part of the American Expeditionary Force. The American contingent leading the parade included troops from the Army’s 1st Infantry Division, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Marines from U.S. Marine Forces Europe.