WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Jan. 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote, the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act of 2009 (H.R. 725).
The Act would expand the enforcement capabilities to several additional law enforcement agencies. Currently, only the FBI can investigate charges of arts and craft fraud - which has only resulted in three convictions since the original law was enacted in 1990.
The original arts and crafts legislation was enacted to combat the sale of fraudulent Indian art and craftwork and protect the integrity and authenticity of Indian art and the economic livelihood of Native Americans.
The House bill was introduced back in January by Arizona Representative Ed Pastor and was supported by co-sponsors, Arizona Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick and Raúl Grijalva and New Mexico Representative Ben Ray Luján to combat increasing worries that the influx of counterfeits from other nations, such as China and Mexico, may threaten the integrity of the Native American art market.
It is estimated that the sale of Native American art and craftwork exceeds one billion dollars a year.