Two Western Washington artists billed with misrepresenting them selves as Indigenous American carvers | USAO-WDWA

Seattle – In two independent legal instances, Western Washington artists are charged with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by symbolizing themselves as Native American artists, when they have no tribal membership or heritage, announced U.S. Lawyer Nick Brown.  The adult men, 52-yr-previous Lewis Anthony Rath, of Maple Falls, Washington, and 67-calendar year-previous Jerry Chris Van Dyke aka Jerry Witten, of Seattle, will make their original physical appearance on the problems in U.S. District Courtroom in Seattle at 2:00 PM these days.

“Our distinctive agents examine crimes that violate the Indian Arts and Crafts Act on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board,” explained Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Provider Business of Regulation Enforcement. “By flooding the industry with counterfeit Indigenous American artwork and craftwork, these crimes cheat the client, undermine the financial livelihood of Indigenous American artists, and impairs Indian lifestyle. We thank the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and the U.S. Department of Justice for their support with these investigations.”

The investigation of Jerry Van Dyke commenced in February 2019, when the Indian Arts and Crafts Board acquired a complaint that Van Dyke was representing himself as a Nez Perce Indian Artist, when in point, he is not an enrolled tribal member.  Investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Assistance produced undercover buys at a gallery in the Pike Area Sector place of Seattle that marketed pendants Van Dyke experienced designed as Indigenous American Artwork.  Van Dyke utilized the identify Witten for these revenue.  When interviewed by brokers, Van Dyke admitted recognizing about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, and admitted he was not a tribal member.  Via the gallery Van Dyke experienced sold far more than $1,000 value of carved pendants represented as Native American artwork based on Aleut masks.

Van Dyke is billed with two counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Generated Items and Products and solutions,

The investigation of Anthony Rath began in May 2019, just after a grievance to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.  The investigation unveiled that Rath falsely represented himself to be a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.   Undercover brokers obtained a carved totem pole and necklace from the identical Pike Put Industry gallery for extra than $1,334.  Brokers recognized the gallery had other carvings by Rath that have been represented as Native created.  At one more shop on the Seattle waterfront agents bought another carved totem pole and a mask, all over again represented to be Indian generated.  The biography of the artist at the two retailers falsely claimed that Rath was Native American.  World wide web websites Rath utilised to offer his artwork also falsely declare he is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

When agents executed a lookup warrant on Rath’s Whatcom County home and studio, they located he also possessed feathers from secured birds: golden eagles and other migratory birds these types of as hawks, jays, owls and extra. 

Rath is billed with four counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Generated Items and Products and solutions, one misdemeanor count of Unlawful Possession of Golden Eagles Pieces and a person misdemeanor count of Illegal Possession of Migratory Bird Components.

Misrepresentation of Indian Created Merchandise and Products is punishable by up to 5 a long time in prison.  The misdemeanor counts connected to chook sections are punishable by up to 1 calendar year in jail.

The charges contained in the complaints are only allegations.  A particular person is presumed innocent unless of course and right up until he or she is proven responsible outside of a acceptable doubt in a court of legislation.

The situations are getting investigated by the National Fish and Wildlife Support.  The cases are becoming prosecuted by Assistant United States Lawyer J. Tate London.

By Indana