Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today highlighted the importance of legislation President Obama just signed into law that promotes economic opportunities for Native American artists and craftspeople and protects consumers from fraudulent art and craftwork.
“The Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act is good news because it increases economic development and job opportunities for Native Americans who produce and market authentic Indian art and craftwork while cracking down on counterfeit marketers who are hurting sales of this authentic Indian work,” said Secretary Salazar. The total market for American Indian and Alaska Native arts and crafts in the United States is estimated at a billion dollars, with an unknown but substantial amount of those sales going to misrepresented, non-authentic works.
The Secretary joined President Obama and Tribal leaders from across the nation yesterday at a White House signing ceremony for the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act and Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. The ceremony focused on the role of the law in helping tribal leaders combat violence and increase safety on Indian reservations by providing law enforcement resources.
The new law also strengthens the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell or offer or display for sale 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 Tribe.
“The law signed by President Obama yesterday expands our ability to enforce the Indian Arts and Crafts Act by authorizing all federal law enforcement officers to conduct investigations of those who fraudulently market arts and crafts as Indian-made in violation of the Act,” the Secretary said.
The Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB), a federal agency under the Department of the Interior, administers and enforces the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. Before President Obama signed the new legislation into law yesterday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was the only federal law enforcement agency with statutory authority to investigate alleged Indian Arts and Crafts Act violations. Under the new law, the IACB may refer potential Act violations for investigation to all federal law enforcement officers--including those from Department of the Interior bureaus, and can work with federal law enforcement officers who uncover violations of the Act in the course of their regular duties.
In addition, the new legislation strengthens the penalties for violations of the Act by imposing harsher penalties on those involved in more significant sales of arts and crafts misrepresented as Indian-made. For fraudulent works with a total sales transaction amount of $1,000 or more, a first-time violation by an individual will result in a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment of up to five years, or both. A first-time violation by a business will result in a fine of up to $1 million.
For smaller cases with first-time violators, if the total sale amount is less than $1,000, an individual will face a fine of up to $25,000, imprisonment of up to a year, or both, and a business will face a fine of up to $100,000. In the case of a subsequent violation, regardless of the amount for which any item is offered or displayed for sale, or sold, an individual could be fined, imprisoned for up to 15 years, or both; and a business could be fined up to $5 million.
Established by Congress in 1935, the IACB promotes authentic Native American art and craftwork of members of federally recognized Tribes, as well as to implementing the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. For more information, see http://www.iacb.doi.gov .