Yesterday it was announced in Albuquerque that Federal authorities carried out sixteen search warrants in New Mexico and California Wednesday. As part of the warrants, federal authorities searched two shops in Albuquerque’s Old Town, Gallery 8 and Galleria Azul, as well as shops in Santa Fe, Gallup and Zuni. The stores were selling jewelry made in the Philippines as Native American jewelry. News article.
In each and every piece of Native American jewelry you will find not only the workmanship of Native artists you will find aspects of their cultural heritage. Native Americans rely on their art to support their families and pass on their culture. It is important that buyers take time to ensure that their purchases are authentic.
The Indian Arts and Crafts Act, under the Department of the Interior, was passed in 1990 and promotes the economic development of American Indians and Alaska Natives of federally recognized Tribes through the expansion of the Indian arts and crafts market. Their website outlines violations of the Act.
These recent developments have left buyers in a quandary. No one wants to support copies of authentic Native art. No one wants to be ripped off. So what do we do?
If you are going to buy Native American jewelry and art, be sure to purchase directly from the artist or from a reputable trading post in a place like Gallup. If a so-called Indian necklace is marked 99 cents, it is NOT authentic.
When you buy, ask questions:
1. Where was this made?
2. Who is the artist? What tribe is the artist from?
3. What are the materials used?
4. Is this hand-made, hand-crafted or hand assembled?
5. Is the piece signed or hallmarked?
6. Ask for a Certificate of Authenticity
Places to Purchase Authentic Native American Jewelry and Art
Juried Native American Art Shows
Fun places like Earl’s Restaurant in Gallup that have a program supporting Native artists.
Authentic Trading Posts like Burnham’s in Arizona, and Richardson’s, Bill Malone’s, and Perry Null’s in Gallup. Look for trading posts that have a strong relationship, over generations, with the local Native American population.
IACA Indian Arts and Crafts Association Shows
Events such as the Gallup Inter-Tribal Ceremonial, SWAIA Indian Market and IFAM in Santa Fe
Visits to Reservations such as Hopi or Zuni to buy from the artists at events or displays at the Visitors Center
Websites of Indian Arts and Crafts Association members such as Santa Fe Rose. Look at the listing on their website.
Museum Gift Shops like The Heard in Phoenix and the Wheelright in Santa Fe
It is a good thing that Federal Authorities are enforcing the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. It also is time for those interested in Indian arts and crafts to educate themselves so they become knowledgeable consumers.