Bow ties from seal and sea otter, produced by Inupiat artist Marcus Gho. Photo: Tuvraqtuq

Alaska Natives barred from selling traditional goods on popular website

Alaska Native artists are no longer allowed to sell certain goods on the popular website

The site had allowed an exemption for Native-produced works of ivory, sealskin, sea otter and other animals. But the policy recently changed, The Associated Press reported.

"When they're telling me that they don't feel it's acceptable that I sell these things, I take it a little bit more personally," Inupiat artist Marcu Gho told the AP. His sea otter fur items were delisted on Tuesday, the AP said.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) is calling on Etsy to restore the exemption. He notes that Alaska Natives are legally entitled to sell goods made from animals that have been part of their subsistence and cultural lifestyles for thousands of years.

It looks like I will have to soon close my Etsy store. Below is an excerpt from an email they sent me, and in the same...

Posted by Tuvraqtuq on Saturday, February 3, 2018

"Your company’s actions – due to your well-meaning, but frankly misguided policies and terms of service – are having unintended consequences that are harming Alaska Natives and their communities in my state,” Sullivan wrote in a letter to the site.

Additionally, Sullivan has introduced S.1965, the Allowing Alaska IVORY Act. The bill prevents states from trying to restrict the sale of Native goods that are already permissible under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. has faced criticism in the past for its treatment of American Indian and Alaska Native artisans and entrepreneurs. The site has adopted a policy that explains the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which bars people from marking their goods as "Indian" or "Native" unless they are authentic.

But there appears to be little enforcement by the site. "Authentic" items are frequently lumped in with Native "inspired" products.

Jessica Metcalfe, an expert on Native clothing and fashion, has repeatedly pointed out the site's shortcomings on the Beyond Buckskin blog.

Read More on the Story: stops letting Alaska Native artists sell ivory work (The Associated Press February 6, 2018)

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