Seattle – In two individual felony conditions, Western Washington artists are billed with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by symbolizing on their own as Indigenous American artists, when they have no tribal membership or heritage, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown.  The males, 52-calendar year-aged Lewis Anthony Rath, of Maple Falls, Washington, and 67-12 months-outdated Jerry Chris Van Dyke aka Jerry Witten, of Seattle, produced their original look on the complaints in U.S. District Courtroom in Seattle at 2:00 PM December 10th.

“Our distinctive agents look into 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 Company Office environment of Legislation Enforcement. “By flooding the market place with counterfeit Indigenous American art and craftwork, these crimes cheat the consumer, undermine the economic livelihood of Indigenous American artists, and impairs Indian society. We thank the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and the U.S. Department of Justice for their aid with these investigations.”

The investigation of Jerry Van Dyke commenced in February 2019, when the Indian Arts and Crafts Board obtained a grievance that Van Dyke was representing himself as a Nez Perce Indian Artist, when in truth, 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 Spot Sector location of Seattle that advertised pendants Van Dyke experienced manufactured as Indigenous American Art.  Van Dyke employed the title Witten for these sales.  When interviewed by agents, Van Dyke admitted recognizing about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, and admitted he was not a tribal member.  By the gallery Van Dyke had offered more than $1,000 well worth of carved pendants represented as Native American artwork dependent on Aleut masks.

Van Dyke is charged with two counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Created Items and Merchandise.

The investigation of Anthony Rath commenced in Could 2019, after a complaint to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.  The investigation exposed that Rath falsely represented himself to be a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.   Undercover brokers purchased a carved totem pole and necklace from the same Pike Position Industry gallery for more than $1,334.  Brokers seen the gallery had other carvings by Rath that ended up represented as Native generated.  At an additional store on the Seattle waterfront brokers bought another carved totem pole and a mask, all over again represented to be Indian produced.  The biography of the artist at each retailers falsely claimed that Rath was Indigenous American.  Web web sites Rath made use of to sell his artwork also falsely claim he is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

When brokers executed a look for warrant on Rath’s Whatcom County home and studio, they found he also possessed feathers from secured birds: golden eagles and other migratory birds this sort of as hawks, jays, owls and a lot more. 

Rath is billed with four counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Made Merchandise and Products and solutions, a person misdemeanor rely of Illegal Possession of Golden Eagles Components and a person misdemeanor rely of Unlawful Possession of Migratory Chicken Parts.

Misrepresentation of Indian Produced Items and Merchandise is punishable by up to 5 many years in prison.  The misdemeanor counts associated to hen sections are punishable by up to 1 12 months in prison.

The fees contained in the issues are only allegations.  A man or woman is presumed harmless except if and till he or she is established responsible beyond a reasonable doubt in a court docket of law.

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

Supply: US DOJ

By Indana