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Native Sun News: New bill opens up Indian Arts and Crafts Act

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Rep. Nick Rahall ( has proposed changes to the Indian Arts and Crafts act. Courtesy

Drastic amendment proposed to Indian Arts and Crafts Act
Change would open doors for non-Natives to claim authenticity
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Staff writer

WASHINGTON—An amendment proposed to the Native American Arts and Craft act by Rep Nick Rahall (D-WV) if passed would potentially remove protections from Native American artisans across the country and allow for non-Tribal members to label work they create as “Native American produced”.

The Indian Arts and Craft Act which was originally established in 1990 prohibits the marketing of American Indian and Alaskan Native arts and crafts as authentic unless it is produced by a federally or state recognized tribal member.

The changes proposed by Rep Rahall would insert in to the law language that would allow for members of a non-profit Indian organizations and individuals who are not enrolled members of a recognized tribe to claim authenticity.

“Any individual who is a direct lineal descendant of a person listed on the base roll of an Indian tribe, whether or not such individual qualifies for membership in the Indian tribe,” the amendment reads. “Any individual who is a member of an Indian organization.”

The law provides vague definition of what an Indian organization is and includes language stating the organization does not need to be recognized by any tribal nation.

"The IACA is already difficult to enforce and does little to protect or support Native American artists and small arts businesses, these new changes would render it completely useless,” said Dr. Jessica Metcalfe founder of the Native American Fashion blog Beyond Buckskin. “It sounds like someone in DC is lobbying for this change because companies realize that right now there's a lot of money to be made off of selling our ethnicity. But our ethnicity isn't for sale,” added Dr. Metcalfe.

The amendment has been referred to the House committee on Native American and Alaska Native Affairs.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

Copyright permission by Native Sun News

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