Amendment proposed to Indian Arts and Crafts Act to accommodate non-Native artists

BY STAFF REPORTS
04/25/2013 09:12 AM
WASHINGTON – A West Virginia congressman is proposing an amendment to the Native American Arts and Crafts Act that threatens to remove protections for Native American artists and allow non-Native artists to label their artwork as “Native American produced.”

The 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act is a “truth-in-advertising law” that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States.

“It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell 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,” reads the act.

Under the act, an Indian is defined as a citizen of any federally or state-recognized Indian tribe, or an individual certified as an Indian artisan by an Indian tribe.

For a first time violation of the act, an individual can face civil or criminal penalties up to a $250,000 fine or a 5-year prison term, or both. If a business violates the act, it can face civil penalties or can be prosecuted and fined up to $1 million.

The Rahall amendment, introduced on March 12, would allow members of “non-profit Indian organizations” or state-recognized tribes and individuals who are not enrolled in a federally recognized tribe to claim their art is authentic.

House Resolution 1066 has been referred to the House committee on Native American and Alaska Native Affairs.

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