Release Date: May 14, 2002
If you are considering purchasing Alaskan Native art, invest a little time learning about the processes and materials that Alaskan Native artisans use to create unique and beautiful objects. Partnering with the Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Indian Arts and Craft Board (IACB) and the Alaska Attorney General's Office, the Federal Trade Commission has developed and distributed more than 100,000 postcards and brochures to help assure the authenticity of Alaskan Native art.
The materials provide numerous tips - mostly centered on a "Silver Hand" certification program - on how to be confident that Alaskan Native art is truly Native. The education program also promotes awareness about the illegality of marketing non-Native art as Alaskan-Native. Any item produced after 1935 that is labeled with terms such as "Alaskan Native," "Native American," or "Indian" must be made by a member of a State or federally-recognized tribe or a certified Indian artisan.
Alaskan Native arts and crafts are sold through many outlets, including tourist stores, gift shops, art galleries, museums, culture centers, and the Internet. Here are some tips to help you shop wisely:
Art or Artificial
You may be wondering how to distinguish between arts and crafts produced by Alaskan Natives and items that are imitations. Price, materials, and appearance are important clues to provenance.
Where to Complain
The Indian Arts and Crafts Board refers valid complaints about violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 to the FBI for investigation and to the Department of Justice for legal action. To file a complaint under the Act, or to get free information about the Act, contact the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., MS 4004-M1B, Washington, D.C. 20240; 202-208-3773; www.iacb.doi.gov.
Complaints to the IACB must be in writing and include the following information:
For More Information
To learn more about Alaskan Native arts and crafts, contact:
Alaska State Council on the Arts
411 West 4th Avenue, Suite 1E
Anchorage, AK 99501-2343
907-269-6610; fax: 907-269-6601
The Alaska Attorney General's Office investigates unfair and deceptive marketing and sales practices in Alaska. To obtain a complaint form, contact the Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Unit, 1031 West 4th Avenue, Suite 200. Anchorage, AK 99501; 907-269-5100; or use the complaint form at www.law.state.ak.us/consumer.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at www.ftc.gov