This February, the Native American Law & Policy practice group at Dentons US LLP brings you the latest about federal policies, legal news, and events in the Indigenous art and fashion world.

Legal News:

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) (Pub. L. 101-644) is a “truth-in-advertising” law that bars sellers from misrepresenting products as “Indian-made” if such products are not in fact made by Indians, as defined in the Act, or individuals certified as Indian artisans in accordance with the Act. Persons who violate the Act may be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties. More information on the Act may be found here. The Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB), an agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, receives and evaluates complaints of possible Act violations. The IACB then refers valid complaints to law enforcement for further investigation and possible prosecution.

Two men from the State of Washington were charged with violating IACA by representing themselves as Native American artists. The investigation of both men began when the IACB received complaints that the men were representing themselves as enrolled members of federally recognized tribes. One man was representing himself as a Nez Perce Indian Artist,1 and the other as an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe,2 when in fact, neither were enrolled tribal members. Investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) made undercover purchases from both men, which were represented to be Indian produced. These cases are currently pending.

On October 19, 2021, a California man pled guilty in federal court to violations of the IACA.3 According to the plea agreement, in 2013 and 2014 the man listed and sold fake pieces of Native American jewelry online, claiming it to be made and signed by a famed Hopi Tribe artisan, Charles Loloma, to an undercover law enforcement agent. The man is currently out of custody awaiting sentencing. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Government Affairs:

President Biden has underscored the importance of supporting Native American artists by calling upon the U.S. Department of Justice to enforce the IACA. The White House Tribal Nations Summit Report states that “[a]rts and crafts are a key economic driver for Native American communities, and too many businesses devalue the livelihood of Native American artists by selling fake Native American art.” A link to the Report may be found here. Also, in support of Indian art, Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland released an IACA public service announcement (PSA). A link to the PSA video may be found here.

Free Promotion for American Indian and Alaska Native Owned Arts and Crafts Businesses

The IACB created a Source Directory of American Indian and Alaska Native Owned and Operated Arts and Crafts Businesses (Source Directory) to provide the public with a centralized resource to purchase authentic Indian art and craftwork. The Source Directory consists of a wide spectrum of cooperatives, private galleries, Tribal arts and crafts enterprises, and individual artists and artisans located nationwide. A link to the Source Directory may be found here.

Indigenous Artist Spotlight:4

Dorothy Grant |

Dorothy Grant is an internationally renowned fashion designer and traditional Haida artist. Ms. Grant has a strong connection to her culture and Haida identity, which has been her creative drive and foundation as a contemporary fashion designer. She believes that her clothing embodies the Haida philosophy Yaangudang meaning “self respect” and her clothing designs are inspired by “empowerment, pride and feeling good about oneself.” In May 2015, Ms. Grant received the “Order of Canada” for her contributions to Canada’s fashion industry and for mentoring youth through her example as a designer and entrepreneur. She has transformed her entrepreneurial focus to Native art market trade shows and online sales through her website. Ms. Grant continues to make one-of-a-kind garments for her clients, and shows in various art markets in Alaska, California, New Mexico, New York, and various cities in Canada.

Potential Funding Opportunities And Covid Relief Assistance:

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Compilation of Resources for Artists and Arts Organizations – NEA has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources for artists and art organizations. This includes resources from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, American Alliance of Museums, National Art Education Association (NAEA), and the Western Governors’ Association. A link to the website may be found here.

Poeh Cultural Center Support Programs – The Poeh Cultural Center created a COVID-19 Community Support page for Native Artists. A link to the page may be found here. Resources include free trainings for artists on various topics, including “Learning the basics of setting up a Facebook Business Page.” The Poeh also created an online Native Artist Marketplace on Facebook. This Marketplace is a Facebook group that any Native Artist can join. The Poeh will market and publicize the Marketplace to attract buyer and supporters. Artists are invited to join the page and share what they have to sell. A link to the Native Artist Marketplace may be found here.

Hilary Teachout Grants – Hilary Teachout grants offer artists relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, the grants are limited to one-time $500 payments and there is a rolling deadline to apply for aid. A link to the application may be found here. Completed applications should be submitted to [email protected].

Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation – The Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Emergency Grant program is intended to provide interim financial assistance to eligible painters, printmakers, and sculptors impacted by an unforeseen, catastrophic incident. To be eligible for this program, an artist must be able to demonstrate a minimum involvement of ten years in a mature phase of their work, and work in the disciplines of painting, sculpture or printmaking. A link to the program may be found here. Each grant is given as one-time assistance for a specific emergency and the maximum amount of this grant is $15,000; an award of $5,000 is typical. This program has no deadlines. A link to application instructions may be found here. A link to start an application may be found here.

Heard Museum Native Artists Resource Group – The Native Artist Resource Group (NARG) is available to participants for the purpose of providing a forum for the discussion of issues important to professionals involved in trade associations, professional societies, and other not-for-profit organizations. A link to the NARG website may be found here. Tribal members interested in gaining login access to participate in the discussions should complete a Membership Request form. A link to the form may be found here.

CERF+ Emergency Assistance – CERF+ is a nonprofit organization that uniquely focuses on safeguarding artists’ livelihoods nationwide. CERF+ provides grants and also works with businesses to broker craft supplies, equipment and services at no or low cost to those found eligible for emergency assistance. A link to the CERF+ website may be found here. To apply, first submit an inquiry form. A link to the form may be found here. You may review the CERF+ assistance eligibility guidelines here and supporting documents requirements here.

Local Business Assistance – The Small Business Administration (SBA) provides an online tool to find your nearest SBA District Office and other SBA-approved organizations. SBA District Offices are responsible for providing small business owners with information about SBA’s programs and oversee free and low-cost training and business counseling provided by independent organizations funded by the SBA. A link to the tool may be found here.

Additional Funding Information and Resources from State Arts Councils –

Arizona Arts Commission – Artist Opportunity Grant
Change Labs/

California Arts Council

Colorado Creative Industries
Western States Arts Federation

Montana Arts Council

Minnesota State Arts Board

New Mexico
New Mexico Arts

Nevada Arts Council

New England Foundation for the Arts
Various Grants

New Hampshire
New Hampshire State Council on the Arts – Artist Entrepreneurial Grant

North Dakota
North Dakota Arts Council

Oklahoma Arts Council

South Dakota
Arts South Dakota

Wisconsin Arts Board

Wyoming Arts Council

Upcoming Events:5

The IACB posts American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native American (AI/AN) art and craft marketing events that are judged on its website to promote authentic AI/AN products and as a service for potential consumers. A link to the webpage may be found here. We also provide information below on other upcoming events that may be of interest.

Fur Rendezvous | Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market
March 2-6, 2022
Anchorage, Alaska
+1 907 274 1177

Authentic Native Arts Association | Bernalillo Indian Arts Festival
May 14-15, 2022
Bernalillo, New Mexico
+1 505 867 9667

1 See generally United States v. Van Dyke, Case No. 2:21-cr-00216-RSM (D. Wash. 23, 2021).
2 See generally United States v. Rath, Case 2:21-mj-00626-BAT (D. Wash. Nov. 23, 2021).
3 See generally United States v. Haack, Case No. 1:18-cr-00928-MV (D.N.M. Mar. 28, 2018).
4 Disclaimer: Dentons US LLP is not affiliated with this artist and does not represent this artist. By featuring this artist Dentons does not endorse or recommend this artist or the artist’s products. Dentons does not receive any of the proceeds of sales.
5 Disclaimer: Dentons US LLP is not affiliated and is not a sponsor of the events listed. Information on the above events is current as of date of publication. Dentons is not responsible for any changes to the events made by the organizers.

By Indana