WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate on July 24 unanimously passed S. 151, The Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act, which strengthens the investigative and enforcement authorities of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. The bill is authored by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and cosponsored by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-S.D.).
"Native American arts and crafts are the only art indigenous to America," Kyl said. "Inauthentic reproductions and mass-produced knock-offs undercut sales of genuine articles and undermine traditional artisans' techniques. It would be a tremendous loss to the entire country's cultural heritage to lose these traditions."
The original Indian Arts and Crafts Act, co-authored by Kyl when he was a member of the House of Representatives, was enacted to protect Indian artists and craftspeople, businesses, tribes, and consumers from the growing sales of arts and crafts wrongly represented as being produced by Native Americans. Serving as a "truth-in-advertising" law, with civil and criminal provisions, it prohibits the marketing of products as "Indian made" when they are not made by Indians.
S. 151 expands the investigative authority under the original act. Other federal law enforcement entities, such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Law Enforcement, in addition to the FBI, may investigate cases of misrepresentation.
"Since the original act was passed, it has become clear that the law enforcement provisions need to be strengthened," Kyl said. "The improvements made in this legislation will help to increase the number of complaints that are investigated and prosecuted."
A previous version of this bill passed the Senate in 2008, but the House of Representatives failed to act before the end of the congressional session. S. 151 must now receive approval in the House of Representatives if it is to become law.