Thursday, September 18, 2008

Identifying Arts and Crafts Made by Alaska Natives

Any item produced after 1935 that is marketed with terms like "Indian, "Native American," or "Alaska Native" must have been made by a member of a state or federally-recognized tribe or a certified non-member Indian artisan. That’s the law.
A certified Indian artisan is an individual certified by the governing body of the tribe of his or her descent as a non-member Indian artisan.

For example, it would violate the law to advertise products as "Inupiaq Carvings" if the products were produced by someone who isn’t a member of the Inupiaq tribe or certified in writing by the tribal governing body as a non-member Alaska Native artisan of the Inupiaq people.

Qualifiers like "ancestry," "descent," and "heritage" - used in connection with the terms "Indian," "Alaska Native," or the name of a particular Indian tribe - do not mean that the craftsperson is a member of an Indian tribe or certified by a tribe. For example, "Native American heritage" or "Yupik descent" would mean that the artist is of descent, heritage' or ancestry of the tribe. These terms may be used only if they are truthful.

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