Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Steve Osborn: Fake Indians find ways to cheat online consumers


The following is the opinion of Steve Osburn, a Cherokee/Delaware from Oklahoma.

I hope every Native American takes time to contact Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) about the recent amendment to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. In its current form, the law will accomplish very little, and here is one of the reasons.  

The Indian Arts and Craft Act is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products. It is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell 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" or "Indian Tribe" or "Indian arts and crafts organization."

To get around the law, almost every fake flute maker and musician on the Internet uses the forbidden words in their HTML code where they think nobody sees it. I say prosecute them! They are falsely marketing and displaying their products in a way that falsely suggest they are Native made in defiance of the Indian Arts and Craft Act.  

Here's an example from a non-Indian flute maker's page.
<SPAN class=HTML_VAL>"Native American style flutes, Indian flutes, native american style flutes, woodwinds, Mesa Verde, southwest flutes, Four Corners, mesa verde, four corners, native american flutes, flutes, David Nighteagle, Nighteagle, music education, Native American style music, indian music, Nighteagle Flute Company home page"</SPAN>

I have contacted Meredith Stanton at the Indian Arts and Crafts Board over and over about this but her hands are tied. The wannabes are killing Native businesses on the web by the thousands by overtaking the search engines with these false keywords to dupe the public into finding their fake products.

The law should be amended to say "the use of keywords including, Native American, Indian, Indian Flute, the name of a particular tribe, Native, American Indian or Indian."

Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act:
H.R.725

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