Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tips on Purchasing Authentic Native American Art

Ask to be given a written description or certificate of authenticity with your purchase;
Always keep written records and receipts together for your history/documentation file.

These are just a few of the tips at the Indian Arts and Craft Association located in New Mexico, website:

IACA Preserves Native American Art Market

The Indian Arts and Craft Act doesn't prevent anyone from making and selling their art - it does however, limit who can or can not call themselves Indian and their art Indian - contrary to what this article would have you believe - it preserves the Native American Art Market for Native Americans. If collectors don't care about the Indian ID that is for them to decide when they purchase art; however, it is indeed up to each tribe as to who is or is not a tribal member and thus can call their art as Indian. Usually those claiming Indian Ancestry but are not members of Tribes, State or Federal recognized, are not able to prove their Indian Ancestry and in some cases don't even know which ancestor *might* be Indian, they operate from a purely *Family Story* without any documentation.


Does the law exclude Native American Craftspeople?

Among strong supporters of the law are Native Americans who recognize that some American Indians have been unfairly excluded. Craig Ueltzen of Pasco, Wash., whose enrolled Cherokee mother makes a living selling ink drawings, chastised “people who claim tribal membership just to jump on the bandwagon of Native American art since it’s popular right now.”

Veltzen conceded that some tribes’ sloppy bookkeeping in their census rolls “and people hiding out during the registration years” in the 19th and early 20th centuries have led to individuals who have been unfairly prohibited from claiming their ancestry.

Cherokee potter and sculptor Victoria Mitchell Vazquez of Welch, Okla., says requiring proof of enrollment for shows is “a good practice,” while acknowledging that “I do know of other Indian artists who cannot prove their Indian blood, and I feel for them.”

The law, however, is strict and allows no room for sympathy. “Saying who is an Indian is not, and should not be, a judgment call,” Pourian says. “I need proof.”

Considering the fact that some objects — jewelry, especially — in the Indian market shows sell for as high as $10,000 or more, the disputes over who may participate in these events can become quite bitter.

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act, for its part, does not prohibit anyone from creating any kind of arts and crafts objects they like, nor does it prohibit any collector from buying it. The statute may simply make some artisan’s work a bit more difficult to find. “The law creates deeply invidious situations for tribal people,” says Rayna Green, curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, “as tribes become gatekeepers for a system they did not create but must uphold in order to maintain their sense of themselves as sovereign people. When art is thrust in the middle of it, it’s kind of sad.”

Cherokee Nation Art Act Passes

Cherokee Nation Arts and Craft Act:

Anyone who sells art within the Cherokee Nation must be a Cherokee citizen or a member of a federally recognized tribe.

Indian Arts and Craft Board at Work

Vermont Basketmaker Contacted By Federal Officials About Native Arts Labeling

Written by Jedd Kettler
Friday, 22 February 2008
The County Courier

VERMONT: If you doubt there is a need to change Vermont's Native recognition law to protect Abenaki artists and craftspeople, basketmaker Jesse Larocque suggests you look no further than an email he received from the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Board this week.

That email was sent on Tuesday, Feb. 19, from IACB Support Specialist Ken Van Wey. It outlines federal law and suggests that Larocque - a member of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Missisquoi Abenaki - stop advertising his work as Native-made.

The IACB is part of the United States Department of the Interior and administers federal Native arts labeling regulations.

Van Wey's email suggests Larocque "should refrain from selling (his) work as Indian, Native American, or as the product of a particular Indian Tribe until (his) group is officially recognized."

In an email response the same day, Larocque wrote, "It looks like you are on a witch hunt... or a fishing expedition." Later in his email, Larocque suggested, "Perhaps you may want to level your guns in a different direction."

Larocque, of West Danville, pointed to grants he has received in the past, particularly a grant from the federal National Endowment for the Arts – which referred to him as a "Master Abenaki Basketmaker" – support from the Vermont Folk Life Center, and several court cases he has won defending his rights as Native American.

"So basically what we've got is one side of the government that says, 'Okay, you guys are Indian,' and another that says, 'You are not,'" Larocque said in an interview with the County Courier, Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Meanwhile, what Larocque and many other artists and craftspeople say they are working to preserve a culture which has already seen years of pressure and repression.

"It's not like I'm out there doing something that is harmful. It's preserving heritage and culture," said Larocque.

The IACB email and Larocque's response have been posted on the Vermont Commission on Native Affairs website, since Wednesday.

IACB Director Meredith Stanton declined to comment Thursday, Feb. 21, about either email. Stanton said her office does not discuss complaints they receive or specific "law letters" sent out to individuals they believe are in violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.

She said that some 95 percent of "law letters" sent from her office are in direct response to complaints they receive. Such letters vary widely in their seriousness, from those meant primarily to educate artists and craftspeople about labeling requirements to more direct legal action.

"I think any way you look at it, not only are you educating someone, you're also putting them on notice," Stanton said. "We want them to know what the definition (of 'Indian') is under the Act ... We want anyone and everyone to know about this."

When Vermont's Native recognition law, S.117, was passed in May, 2006, many believed Abenaki artists here would be protected when labeling their work as Abenaki-made.

For Larocque, this week's email draws a clear picture of the current vulnerability of Vermont's Native artisans and craftspeople.

"The situation with me presently will allow them to see what will continue to happen if (S.117) is not repaired," Larocque said on Wednesday. "My view is, apparently S.117 falls short of protecting Abenaki and needs to be addressed ... The reality is S.117 is not working."

Federal officials have said for over a year that S.117 stops short of recognizing specific Indian groups and therefore does not protect individual artisans. In a February, 2007 interview with the County Courier, Stanton suggested that a "legislative solution" would be the best solution.

In addition to the suggestion that Larocque not label his work as Abenaki unless his group is recognized by the State, Van Wey's email also describes labeling requirements under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, which is "designed to prevent the marketing of art and craft products as 'Indian made when they are not, in fact, made by Indians as defined by the Act."

The Act defines an Indian "a member of a member of a federally or officially State recognized Indian Tribe" or someone who is certified as a non-member artisan in such a group.

The email comes just days after the Vermont Senate Economic Development Committee heard disparate testimony on the need for changes to the State law. The current proposed amendment aims to set up a process for recognizing specific tribes and bands in Vermont. While several people testified that the amendment is either not necessary or that the proposed process is flawed, this week's IACB email to Larocque echoes Stanton's own written testimony last week. Her testimony stops short of endorsing the current proposal, though.

The amendment "answers many of our concerns about the State's recognition process but it remains to be seen whether specific Abenaki 'tribes' are recognized consistent with the federal Act," according to Stanton's testimony.

State recognition of tribes and bands is also separate and very different from federal recognition.

As Stanton wrote in her testimony, State recognition is distinct from federal "recognition as a sovereign Indian tribe."

Ultimately any solution in Vermont needs to come from the State government, Stanton said this week.

"We appreciate the fact that the State of Vermont is working toward a solution to fix it ... It's the State of Vermont, it's something that they have to address," said Stanton.

The current situation does highlight a need for clarity and change to Vermont's protections for artists and craftspeople, though, said both Larocque and VCNAA Chairman Mark Mitchell.

On Wednesday, Mitchell said, "Vermonters in general should know where S.117 stands. Vermonters should work together to try to move (the proposed amendment) forward ... To me a process is really the only way to move forward."

Mitchell said the Commission's goal since beginning work on the issue in fall 2006 has always been to ensure Vermont's Abenaki artists are protected. When federal officials told him at that time the law did not allow Vermont artisans to label their work, the VCNAA began work to define a process to achieve that protection.

Mitchell said, "We didn't set things in motion. This is all being driven by the federal government."

Mitchell said he was not surprised by the email Larocque received this week.

"I think it was only a matter of time. This could be only the beginning," Mitchell said. "As I wrote on the (VCNAA) website, 'The Feds are coming.'"

Monday, April 14, 2008

Another self ID Indian

No where in this article is it mentioned that Murv Jacob and Debbie Duvall are NOT members of any Federal or State Recognized Tribe!

Apparently he's just been telling folks he's Cherokee for 20 years! Another *self* identified Indian who started chumming around the Cherokee Artists in Tahlequah.

An example of *if you say it long enough* you convince folks you are Indian....and then boosts about how long he's been Indian....


Published April 13, 2008 10:29 pm -

Art Under the Oaks gets rolling

“With 30,000 azalea plants in full bloom, not to mention the myriads of other flowering trees and shrubs, Honor Heights Park in Muskogee is a lovely place to spend a memorable spring day,” said Murv Jacob, artist and book illustrator of Tahlequah.

This is the 24th annual Art Under the Oaks Market at the Five Civilized Tribes Museum atop Honor Heights Hill, on the west side of Muskogee. Jacob and his wife, Deborah Duvall, will be there on Saturday and Sunday. The market opens at 10 a.m. both days.

Jacob will bring a selection of his new plate designs celebrating Frankoma Pottery’s 75th anniversary — this brand new design features ruby-throated hummingbirds and trumpet creeper vines, and the plates are done in three new colors, light blue, cream and dark blue, and range in cost from $40 to $100. Last year, Jacob previewed his Frankoma Pottery Oklahoma Centennial plates at Art Under the Oaks for the first time.

Jacob and Duvall set up their tables around back on the southwest corner of the museum, away from the road and crowds, and with a spectacular view of Tiger Mountain — some 30 miles away to the southwest.

“It’s quieter there in the back of the museum, and our musician friends and relatives always manage to show up and liven things up with their guitars, mandolins and fiddles. It’s like that song ‘Sittin’ on Top of the World’ — I love that hill,” Jacob said.

“By a strange combination of luck and tenacity it turns out that I am the only artist who has been to this art market every single year since it began,” he said. “I came the first year and shared a booth with the famed Cherokee painter Cecil Dick — and Cecil’s best friend, the great woodcarver Willard Stone, was in the next door booth with his family — that was over 20 years ago — both Cecil and Willard have long since passed away — now look at me — I’m that old guy taking a nap over by the bushes. Har. Har.”

Their ninth book together, “Rabbit Goes to Kansas,” was published in the fall of 2007. The story line of the book has generated a lot of recent interest among Kansas Jayhawk fans, who are now celebrating their number one finish in the NCAA basketball tournament. Ji-Stu the Rabbit follows the North Star out of Indian Territory with his friend, Wildcat. They’re searching for mythical red and blue birds who live on a sunflower-covered hill far to the north. The birds turn out to be real enough and teach Ji-Stu and Wildcat a new game using a basket and a bouncy ball.

“I’ve been a KU basketball fan for generations,” Jacob said. “Go KU!”
Duvall and Jacob also will bring a stack of their newest book, “Rabbit and the Well” — just out this April, their 10th book together, published by the University of New Mexico Press.

“The well story retells an old Cherokee legend about dealing with a long drought,” Duvall said. “We started working on the book a couple of summers ago, when the hot Oklahoma wind dried up the water and the rain refused to fall. Oddly enough, when our storyboard was finished it began to rain again.”

In “Rabbit and the Well,” the ancient Cherokee animals suffer through a terrible drought. Ji-Stu the Rabbit comes up with the idea to dig a well because “there’s plenty of clean cold water underground.” Since he had the idea in the first place, Ji-Stu considers his work complete, and refuses to do any of the digging.

“Then you shall have none of our water!” the animals tell him. Little does Ji-Stu know there’s a sticky tar wolf in his future when he is forced to steal water from the well. The legend is thought by Cherokee historians to be the basis for the Joel Chandler Harris story about the Tar Baby.

Both new full-color books have been up for some time as free e-story-books on the couple’s Web site,

“You can go there and hear the story being told by Duvall while looking at my illustrations,” Jacob said. “Eventually all our illustrated stories will be available on-line as free e-books.”

Art Under the Oaks will include artists from all over the area – painters, potters, basket weavers and traditional artisans of all sorts, and traditional food and loads of entertainment.

“Round up your friends and come spend the day with the most beautiful flowers in Oklahoma,” Jacob said.

“The Cherokees are especially fond of azaleas. Forty-nine of the 50 species of azaleas are native to the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania down to Georgia, the ancestral home of the Cherokees. It stands to reason that when the Cherokees moved here the azaleas would follow. Art Under the Oaks is a great place to start your tour of this year’s crop of azalea blossoms. I think I’ve seen every species of butterfly native to Oklahoma hanging around those bright blooming bushes in Honor Heights Park. With record American gas prices, a memorable, fun, free, family event might be had in nearby Muskogee.”

For more information, call the museum at 683-1701.