WASHINGTON, D.C.--The Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB) of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General have collaborated to publish a consumer protection brochure tailored to the New Mexico Indian arts and crafts market.
Called Take Home a Treasure from Indian Country: Buy Authentic New Mexico Indian Arts and Crafts, this new brochure provides information on the Federal and state laws designed to protect the sales of authentic Indian arts and crafts, as well as helpful tips for buyers to determine the authenticity of the items.
Annual sales of Indian arts and crafts in the United States are estimated to total more than one billion dollars. Purchasing authentic Indian arts and crafts helps to preserve and perpetuate Indian culture and traditions. As the popularity of Indian arts and crafts increases, so does the sale of items misrepresented as authentic Indian products. By becoming more familiar with both the Federal and state laws governing the sales of Indian arts and crafts, and by considering the shopping tips provided in the new brochure, consumers can help to ensure they are buying authentic Indian arts and crafts.
Under the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 as amended (P.L. 101-644); it is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell, any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is American Indian produced, an American Indian product, or the product of a particular American Indian tribe. Under the Federal Act, Indian labor makes art or craftwork an Indian product.
"The IACB is very pleased to continue its close work with the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General through this excellent educational collaboration," says IACB Chairperson Joyce Begay-Foss (Navajo), "We would also like to thank the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology, Department of Cultural Affairs, for the use of their images in this lovely publication."
The New Mexico Indian Arts and Crafts Sales Act (NMSA 1978, § 30-33-1 to 30-33-11) provides definitions for "Indian handmade," "authentic Indian arts and crafts," and "Indian crafted." It also addresses the use of materials. For example, the state statute requires that sellers disclose if any of the products use treated material, including stabilized, reconstructed or reconstituted, or synthetic (plastic) turquoise.
"It is critically important that consumers educate themselves before buying Indian arts and crafts because it is so easy to buy fake products," says Attorney General Gary King. "This brochure is an important consumer education tool, and we urge all consumers to take advantage of this valuable resource. I am grateful for the cooperation and assistance of the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Board."
The brochure is available free of charge by contacting the IACB, U.S. Department of the Interior, at 1-888-ART-FAKE or 1-888-278-3253, or the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-678-1508. Additional information on the IACB is available at www.iacb.doi.gov.