Department of the Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Steve Brooks
For Immediate Release: October 21, 2004
(202) 208-3171

Secretary Norton Announces Enforcement Committee
To Counter Fraudulent Indian Products


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton has announced the establishment of an Enforcement Committee, which will assist the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB) in investigating complaints alleging the sale of fraudulent Indian products.

"The Indian Arts and Crafts Act seeks to protect the authenticity of Indian art and craftwork," said Norton, "Fraudulent products purporting to be of American Indian or Alaska Native origin are showing up in increasing numbers to the detriment of legitimate Indian artists and artisans. It has been estimated that the counterfeit market exceeds $200 million annually, with many of the bogus products being sold in the Southwest."

The new Committee will assist the IACB in its review of new complaints as well as the status of ongoing case developments. Committee members will draw on their legal and law enforcement expertise and experience to provide guidance to the IACB on a case by case basis. Based on their assessment of each complaint, the Committee will recommend an appropriate course of action, including referral to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Committee will consist of a Deputy Assistant Secretary for Performance, Accountability and Human Resources; Associate Solicitor, Office of General Law; Associate Solicitor, Division of Indian Affairs; Deputy Assistant Secretary for Law Enforcement and Security; Deputy Director for Law Enforcement and Security for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Chairman, Indian Arts and Crafts Board.

The improved coordination at the federal level will be matched by a greater effort by the IACB to coordinate with state and Tribal law enforcement agencies.

The Congress has authorized complaints of possible criminal violations of the Act to be received by the IACB, which then determines whether the alleged violation falls within the scope of the Act. The Act carries criminal and civil penalties. Criminal penalties for first time violators include up to $250,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison. For subsequent violations the fine could increase to $1 million and up to 15 years in prison. Non- individual offenders are fined $1 million with subsequent violations up to $5 million in fines.




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