Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are the sources for American Indian Art? Isn't it better
to purchase directly from the artist?
different ways of acquiring American Indian arts and crafts: buying
directly from the artist; from shops and galleries; and/or at
special shows and ceremonials. Everyone's pattern of collecting will
be different. The important thing is to purchase what you like and
what fits your budget. And be sure that you receive information on
2. Where do Indian artisans get
materials such as lapis? That's not traditional is it?
are using many materials that may or may not be indigenous to their
area. Historically, a variety of materials such as shells were
exchanged among tribes. With the arrival of Europeans, trade began
for other materials such as beads, silver, and gold.
Native Americans seek out a variety of things to achieve their
personal expression of art. These may be purchased from gem/supply
stores or through traders whom they find to be reliable sources. It
is the evolution of this art form that is one of the exciting
aspects of buying American Indian arts and crafts.
3. Which form of these handmade products is my best investment?
When you are
buying American Indian arts and crafts you really are buying pieces
of art. Therefore, your personal taste and budget will guide you to
the right choice. Though it is true that many pieces have
appreciated in value across time, first and foremost, you should buy
the piece because you like it.
Today, there is
good quality work being done today by many artisans, in different
media, styles and price ranges. Collecting art by America's Native
artisans is a very personal and exiting for many reasons. For those
who choose to own the grace and beauty of their products, collecting
them will be a rewarding experience.
4. What Is "Authentic"? Is There a Law That Protects Me?
Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P. L. 101-644),
all products must be marketed truthfully regarding the heritage and
tribal affiliation of the artist or craftsperson. The law prohibits
misrepresentation of Indian arts and crafts within the United
States. It covers all arts and crafts produced after 1935 and is a
truth-in-advertising law. Under the act, "Indian" is defined as a
1.) is an
enrolled member of a State or Federally recognized Tribe, or
2.) has been
certified as an Indian artisan by a governing body of an Indian
For a Copy of the Law and information about how to file a
complaint, write or call:
The Indian Arts and
Department of the Interior, MS 2528
1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240
ART-FAKE or (888) 278-3253