Monday, October 29, 2007

Cherokee Artists Act in the Rules Committee

The Act passed unanimously out of the Rules Committee and now goes to the full council for a vote.


An Act

Legislative Act ___________



Section 1. Title

This act shall be known as the “Cherokee Nation Truth in Advertising for Native Art” and codified as Title ______ Section ______ of the Cherokee Nation Code Annotated.

Section 2. Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to establish guidelines for the purchase, promotion and sale of genuine Native American arts and crafts within the Cherokee Nation and by Cherokee Nation entities. This Act is further intended to encourage and allow Cherokee artists to be diverse, creative as well as traditionally influenced and to continue the use of traditional materials as well as use new mediums.

Section 3. Legislative Authority

Article VI Section 7 of the Cherokee Nation Constitution states: “The Council shall have the power to establish laws which it shall deem necessary and proper for the good of the Nation, which shall not be contrary to the provisions of this Constitution. The style of all bills shall be: “Be It Enacted By the Cherokee Nation”. The Style of all resolutions shall be “Be It Resolved By the Cherokee Nation”.

Section 4. Definitions

(a) Art is an object or action that is made with the intention of stimulating the human senses as well as the human mind and/or spirit regardless of any functional uses. For purposes of this act, Art also includes crafts, hand made items, traditional story telling, contemporary art or techniques oral histories, other performing arts and printed materials.

(b) Cherokee Nation means the government its agencies and instrumentalities including but not limited to Cherokee Nation Businesses, Cherokee Nation Enterprises, Cherokee Nation Industries and Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation, any component units of the Cherokee Nation and any entities in which the Cherokee Nation is the sole or majority stock holder or owner.

(c) Indian means a citizen or member, not individually adopted, of a federally recognized Indian entity evidenced under the “Federal Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994,” PL 103-454, November 2, 1994, 25 U.S.C. §479a, as amended.

(d) Indian Art means Art produced by an Indian.

(e) Indian Artist means an Indian who produces Art.

Section 5. Substantive Provisions

(a) The Cherokee Nation shall not knowingly offer for sale art that is produced by individuals who falsely claim, imply, or suggest that they are Indian.

(b) The Cherokee Nation shall not host, sponsor, fund, or otherwise devote or contribute any resource to Art exhibits allowing the exhibition of works by Artists who falsely claim, imply, or suggest that they are Indian.

(c) The Tribal Employment Rights Office (T.E.R.O.) shall maintain a voluntary registry of Cherokee Artists and their contact information.

(d) The Principal Chief shall cause to be published an inventory of all Indian art owned by the Cherokee Nation, and such listing shall be accessible to the public.

(e) The Principal Chief shall cause to be developed a label or other form of identification to be placed upon or with any Indian Art or Craft sold by the Cherokee Nation or its entities. This is to ensure and identify the object being sold as authentic Indian Art.

Section 6. Provisions as cumulative

The provisions of this act shall be cumulative to existing law.

Section 7. Severability

The provisions of this act are severable and if any part of provision hereof shall be held void the decision of the court so holding shall not affect or impair any of the remaining parts or provisions of this act.

Section 8. Effective Date

This act shall become effective sixty (60) days after its passage in accordance with the Cherokee Nation Constitution.

Enacted by the Council of the Cherokee Nation on the _____________day of _________, 200__.

Meredith Frailey, Speaker
Council of the Cherokee Nation


Don Garvin, Secretary
Council of the Cherokee Nation

Approved and signed by the Principal Chief this day of______________, 200___.

Chadwick Smith, Principal Chief
Cherokee Nation

Melanie Knight, Secretary of State
Cherokee Nation

Cara Cowan Watts
Cherokee Nation Tribal Council
District 7 - Will Rogers
P.O. Box 2922
Claremore, OK 74018
C: 918 752-4342
F: 918 341-3753

Cherokee Arts and Humanities Council seeks assimilation through the Indian Arts

A Response to the “Cherokee Nation Arts and Crafts Authenticity Act of 2007” being proposed before the Cherokee Nation Council


This desire to define what constitutes "authentic" Indian art really comes down to a need to control the imagery and vision of Indian artists at times. As for legitimate fears of invasions against Cherokee artist and their works we can rely on the American Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 to protect Cherokee artist (The Act makes it unlawful to offer or display for sale or sell any good 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 resident within the United States). To protect their monetary interest in the C.N. we can rely on the Nation not to purchase art by those without membership in a federally recognized Cherokee tribe.

In an essay titled "What is Native American Art?" Edwin Wade writes: "Vital arts change. If ever we should succeed in truly defining Indian art, that definition would be an epitaph. But if we remove the restraints of stereotype and allow the creative impetus full rein, we can observe the development of an exciting art that draws on the richness of its own past as it continually recreates itself for the future.”

It is the cumulative opinion of the board of directors of the Cherokee Arts & Humanities Council, Inc. that Native visual arts and humanities, like Native cultures generally, have evolved through the course of the twentieth century. From paintings of daily life, to depictions of ceremonial events, to the visualizations of myth, to meditations on nature, to self-reflection, to political analyses; from figuration to abstrac­tion, to installation and performance, the development of Native art is a record of tribal histories and communities filtered through the alembic of individual perception, and NOT through the legislative processes of a government.

We Believe:

We believe Cherokee government and its entities, the public sector, and private sector have an obligation to make investments in creativity and cultural heritage, the arts and humanities; that the arts and humanities are an investment in the education of our Cherokee children, in the well being of our communities, in the strength of our economy, and in sharing a better understanding of what it is to be culturally and traditionally Cherokee at home and throughout the world. We believe our community should avoid using the term “wannabe.” As we believe using the terms “legitimate” and “genuine” to validate people’s identity and work is dangerous. We believe the greater good can be achieved by educating everyone and the art community will prosper accordingly. We believe there are many identities, values and variances within the art community, which we strive to reflect.

We support:
a.) Alternative, community-based systems treating neither the artwork nor the artist as a commodity.
b.) Eliminating all laws which seek to restrict or censor artistic expression, including withholding of government funds for political or moral content.
c.) Increased funding for the arts appropriate to their essential social role at all levels of government: Local, State, Tribal and Federal.
d.) Community-funded programs employing local artists to enrich their communities through public art programs. These could include, but would not be limited to, public performances, exhibitions, murals on public buildings, design or re-design of parks and public areas, storytelling and poetry reading, and publication of local writers.
e.) The establishment of non-profit public forums for local artists to display their talents and creations. Research, public dialogue, and trial experiments to develop alternative systems for the valuation and exchange of artworks and for the financial support of artists (e.g. community subscriber support groups, artwork rental units, cooperative support systems among artists, legal or financial incentives to donate to the arts or to donate artworks to the Cherokee National Museum, or other Cherokee museum).
f.) Responsible choices of non-toxic, renewable, or recyclable materials and choosing funding sources not connected with social injustice or environmental destruction.
g.) Education programs in the community that will energize the creativity of every community member from the youngest to the oldest, including neglected groups such as teenagers, senior citizens, etc. These programs would provide materials and access to interested, qualified arts educators to every member of the community who demonstrates an interest.
h.) Incorporating arts education studies and activities into every school curriculum with appropriate funding and staffing. We also encourage local artists and the community to contribute time, experience, and resources to these efforts.
i.) Diversity in arts education in the schools, including age-specific hands-on activities and appreciative theoretical approaches, exposure to the arts of Cherokee culture and stylistic tradition, and experience with a variety of media, techniques and contents.
j.) The integration of the arts and artistic teaching methods into other areas of the curriculum to promote a holistic perspective.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Changing Winds

Changing Winds is a Native American organization that works with Native Tribes to prevent the misuse of funding by Non Tribal members in the Public School system.

This is not the only type of work they do, but misuse of Title VII funds has become a real problem within the public school system and which takes needed funding from Native American Tribes.

The public schools promote non tribal members in order to obtain funding for Native American programs within their schools.

If a person is a non tribal member, there is usually a reason, some of which include, inability to prove their Indian lines or blood quantum requirements of the tribes or an inability to prove one's family line back to a specific tribal roll. The most common is an inability to prove a *family story* that one is of Indian descent. It is unfortunate that some families particularly of Mexican/Spanish descent, felt the need to claim they were Indian to prevent discrimination in early years, however, in most cases, these claims by the time they got to the 3rd or 4th generation of the *stories beginnings* were taken as truth.

To allow these same individuals to promulgate the same illusion *of Indian Descent* through our public school system is even more unfortunate.

Wall of Shame - Non Registered *Indians*

This is a listing of folks who sell their *Indian* products but are not registered with a tribe, i.e. they have no tribal numbers. They imply that they are authentic Indian by claiming Indian Descent:

Murv Jacob and Debbie Duval - this gentleman claims descent from a group of Kentucky Cherokees - neither state nor federally recognized

Robin McBride Scott - she claims to not sell her art work - but claims to be a *Cherokee Artist* - more photos:

Jackie Carlson - this lady doesn't even claim Indian descent - but apparently associates herself with Peggy Brennen, who is a registered Cherokee and Robin McBride Scott to give her work *Authentic Cherokee* status.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is it worth the risk?

Crackdown on Fake Indian Arts and Crafts

Sep 25, 2007 05:22 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C--Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne said today that a recent jury verdict is an example of an ongoing crackdown on sales of fake Indian arts and crafts led by the Department of the Interior Indian Arts and Crafts Board.

A jury in Gallup, New Mexico, convicted local arts dealer Amro Al-Assi of fraud on August 16, 2007. The Board is currently conducting other investigations into those who sell counterfeit American Indian arts and crafts.

"This verdict should send a strong message to the Indian arts and crafts marketplace and to the buying public that sales of counterfeit or otherwise misrepresented Indian arts and crafts to consumers will not be tolerated," said Kempthorne. "Such fraudulent sales are eroding the market for authentic Indian work."

Al-Assi, then co-owner and manager of the Silver Bear Trading Company in downtown Gallup, was convicted of selling a counterfeit bracelet as the work of a well-known Navajo jeweler, Jesse Monongya, whose original works command high prices in the market.

The purchaser of the bracelet had originally filed a complaint with the Board at Interior. The Board enforces the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, a federal truth-in-marketing law that prohibits the sale of arts or crafts that are counterfeit or falsely represented as American Indian or Native American made, or as the product of a particular individual Indian artisan, unless the item was produced by a member of a federally or officially state recognized Indian Tribe.

The Board collaborated with Interior's Office of Inspector General, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Gallup, New Mexico, to launch a joint investigation. By collaborating with the Eleventh Judicial Division II District Attorney's Office in Gallup, District Attorney Karl R. Gillson's office ultimately chose to prosecute the case under its state fraud statute.

"McKinley County District Attorney Karl Gilson and his staff are to be highly commended for their outstanding expertise, dedication, and hard work to obtain this important conviction. The Board is continuing to receive additional information regarding fraudulent activity in the Indian arts and crafts market, and we are pursuing other investigations," said the Board Director Meridith Stanton.

DA Gillson said that there was "no room to plead this down to anything less than a felony" but to take it to trial and let the local community of jurors hear and decide Al-Assi's fate. Gillson said, "Clearly, the jury sent the message that maintaining the integrity of communities and of the Native American arts and crafts industry is vital and important to the Indian peoples' livelihood and the communities' economic endurance." Mr. Gillson said that his office "will continue to collaborate with the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and other federal and state law enforcement agencies to combat this tide."

Most recently an agreement between Interior and the FBI was finalized that authorizes all appropriate Interior law enforcement professionals, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management, to investigate complaints filed under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

(U.S. Department of the Interior)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Smithsonian Names New Director

Law Professor to Lead Indian Museum

WASHINGTON (AP) — A law professor from Arizona was named director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indianon Tuesday.

Kevin Gover, a member of the Pawnee tribe, will succeed founding director W. Richard West Jr., who led years of planning for the museum and its first three years of operation. West announced his resignationin October 2006 and will leave the museum in November.

Gover, 52, grew up in Oklahoma and currently serves as a professor of law at Arizona State University. He also is co-director of the university's American Indian Policy Institute and an affiliate professor in its American Indian studies program.

Gover said he is honored to lead the Smithsonian museum and will start work Dec. 2.

"The museum's mission of educating the public about living Native cultures is an important and challenging one, and I am grateful for the opportunity," Gover said in a statement.

President Clinton appointed Gover to serve as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior from 1997 to 2000. He oversaw programs including Indian education, law enforcement, social services and treaty rights. He also practiced law for 15 years in Albuquerque, N.M., and Washington.

Acting Smithsonian Secretary Cristian Samper said Gover's experience in Washington and with Indian communities and his knowledge of history and culture will help bring the museum's resources to the broadest possible audience.

On the Net:
National Museum of the American Indian:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Smithsonian - Native Arts Program

The Smithsonian has recently awarded a Visiting Artists grant to a lady out of Indiana who *claims* to be Cherokee, but who is not even a registered tribal member with any of the Federally Recognized Cherokee Tribes, Oklahoma, North Carolina or UKB. She does however, belong to a *Cherokee Group* in Indiana, that at one time tried and failed to get Federal Recognition. This grant then allows a non Indian to paw through many treasured Indian artifacts.

How can this be you ask? Well we're wondering that as well.

These are the Qualifications for the grant:

"Who is eligible to apply? Native artists from the Western Hemisphere and Hawai‘i who are recognized by their community, have at least ten years of experience, and can demonstrate significant artistic accomplishments. Artists working in any media (visual arts, media arts, performance arts, literature, etc.) are eligible to apply."

The Smithsonian does not have any requirement that this *Artist* have a Tribal Registration Number or Letter from their Tribe that they are a member or non member artist.

As many registered tribal members know, there are a great many people who *claim* Indian heritage but have no proof that they are even Indian. There is a growing number of groups *claiming* to be Indian, as well as the selling of tribal memberships to illegal immigrants. These groups in turn then apply for Title VII grants through the public schools, again without any proof of tribal membership, just that *they have some type of story that they are Indian*. The Schools actually send out information telling parents they only need to have this *story* they are Indian to enroll their children in these Title VII programs.

This type of conduct on the part of the federal government and federal institutions such as the Smithsonian is a slap in the face to Indians and Indian Artists. This is a modern day case of the Cherokee Nation vs Georgia, where the whites came in and claimed the Cherokee's home land and the federal government just stood by and watched and then forcibly removed the South Eastern Indians from their home to the North Eastern part of Oklahoma. This is just another way to decimate and destroy the Indian Culture.

Credible Indian grant or scholarship programs make these the required proof to show Indian Blood:
1. A Card issued by a Tribal Council
2. A letter from the Tribal Council
3. Definite proof of a parent belonging to a tribe and applicant's birth certificate with exact names.

You'll notice that in 1 and 3 require some type of evidence that the applicant is indeed a member of a tribe or Indian and 2 requires confirmation by a tribe the applicant is an Indian.

As you may know, there are many families that have *stories* that they are *part* Indian or there is an Indian ancestor in their line, however, unless this is provable, that elusive Indian ancestry remains a myth.

The Smithsonian's National Museum of the Native Americans has no credibility, are you really viewing Native American artifacts there or are you viewing a claim of Indian artifacts. Or do they even care?

The Smithsonian would be well advised to revisit and revise it's requirements for these grants.

Apparently as long as she doesn't *sell* any products the IACB has no jurisdiction to prevent anyone from calling themselves a Native American Artist, in this case a Cherokee Artist.

I find it extremely strange that an artist would do work and then not *sell it*.

The IACB likewise would be well advised to extend their guidelines and regulations of who is an Indian Artist to all those calling themselves an *Indian Artist*.

It does not appear that either the Smithsonian or the IACB is preserving the Art of the American Indian.

Support Authentic Cherokee Art - ask for the Artist's Tribal registration number before you buy!!

Cherokee Style, Cherokee Heritage and Cherokee Descent all mean non Indian!

For more information and help or to file a complaint on these or any of the growing issues with these *Indian Groups* contact:

Changing Winds - Fraudulent Tribes And The Damage They Cause
National Congress of American Indians - Is your tribe real? Both state and federal recognized tribes are listed here. If it's not listed here your tribe is a fake.

For authentic Cherokee Art and Artists:

Cherokee Basket Weaver's Association
Cherokee Basketweaving Books
Cherokee Artists Association
Cherokees of Orange County