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Whether drawn to the beauty of turquoise and silver jewelry or the earth tone colors of Indian pottery, having some knowledge about American Indian arts and crafts can help consumers get the most for their money. The Federal Trade Commission and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the U.S. Department of the Interior caution consumers that there are unscrupulous dealers who sell imitations, trying to pass them off as authentic and made by an American Indian artist. The FTC and IACB today are offering a brochure with tips to coincide with the 20th Annual Red Earth Native American Festival in Oklahoma City.

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 makes it illegal to advertise or sell any art or craft in a way that falsely suggests it is produced by an American Indian or is the product of a particular American Indian tribe. All claims about the Indian origin and tribal affiliation for any product must be truthful.

To help consumers shop wisely, the FTC and the IACB have published a brochure: “How to Buy Genuine American Indian Arts and Crafts,” available at ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/products/indianart.pdf. The brochure explains the types of materials used in these products, and includes buying tips:

  • Buy from an established dealer who will give you a written guarantee or written verification of authenticity.

  • Get a receipt that includes all the vital information about the value of your purchase, including any verbal representations. For example, if the salesperson told you that the piece of jewelry you’re buying is sterling silver and natural turquoise and was handmade by an American Indian artisan, insist that this information appear on your receipt.

  • Before buying Indian arts and crafts at powwows, annual fairs, juried competitions, and other events, check the event requirements for information about the authenticity of the products being offered for sale. Many events list their requirements in newspaper ads, promotional flyers, and printed programs. If the event organizers make no statement about the authenticity of Indian arts and crafts being offered for sale, get written verification of authenticity for any item you purchase that claims to be authentic.

More information about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act and related regulations can be found at www.iacb.doi.gov or by calling 1-888-ART-FAKE.

Copies of the legal documents associated with these cases are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. 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 in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to thousands of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Contact Information

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(202) 326-2180