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Indian Arts And Crafts Association
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are the sources for American Indian Art? Isn't it better to purchase directly from the artist?

There are 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 your purchase.

2. Where do Indian artisans get materials such as lapis? That's not traditional is it?

Today, artisans 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.

Today many 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?

Under the 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 person who

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 Tribe.

For a Copy of the Law and information about how to file a complaint, write or call:

The Indian Arts and Crafts Board
Department of the Interior, MS 2528
1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240

(888) ART-FAKE or (888) 278-3253
(202) 208-3773

Email: iacb-swa@ios.doi.gov

Web: www.iacb.doi.gov