Indian Country 52 #28 – Counterfeit Art
“Native American artists are requesting the federal government strengthen a 1990 law that prohibits the sale of counterfeit tribal art, in an attempt to stop the flood of fakes that jeopardize their livelihood.
In a hearing on Friday, New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich heard from seven panelists, a mix of government officials and Native artists, who spoke of a need for the Indian Arts and Crafts Act to be revisited.
The act made it illegal to sell any good that “falsely suggests it is Indian produced.” Enforcement of the law, however, has long been seen by Native American arts groups as insufficient. Even after the act was updated in 2010 to authorize all federal law enforcement officers, not just the FBI, to conduct investigations, the issue of counterfeits remained.
“It disturbs me that people throughout the world are misappropriating our traditional designs and profiting from it,” Joyce Begay-Foss, former chair of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and a Navajo weaver, said in the hearing.”
– PBS Hour, Native American artists call for an end to counterfeits.
“In the past few decades, as the popularity of Native American art has grown, so has counterfeit art being falsely advertised as Indian-made. The crime has become an international problem, as well as a national issue, because dealers have sold art produced in foreign countries to retailers in Santa Fe and other cities across the Southwest that many tourists visit in part to collect authentic Native American art.
The hearing comes as a high-profile case involving art sales at galleries in Santa Fe is pending in a federal court in Albuquerque.
Some federal officials told Udall and Heinrich during Friday’s hearing that a heavier crackdown on dealers and retailers who are marketing goods falsely advertised as Native American-made would require changes to the law.
Damon Martinez, the former U.S. attorney for New Mexico, , suggested adding a provision to the law that would allow for the forfeiture of revenues from sales of fraudulent art. He also proposed allowing the use of wiretapping in investigations, so that federal agents can show that retailers and dealers are knowingly selling non-Native American-made art and fraudulently advertising it as authentic.”
– Santa Fe New Mexican, Native American artists call for heavier crackdown on counterfeit tribal art.
Download the 18″x24″ poster (.pdf), Indian Country 52 #28 – Counterfeit Art.
Indian Country 52
Indian Country 52 is a weekly project by David Bernie that uses the medium of posters that promote issues and stories in Indian Country. Follow the series: Indian Country 52
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