WASHINGTON, D.C.-U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) joined Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) on May 1 to introduce the Indian Arts and Crafts Amendments Act of 2007. This legislation strengthens the investigative and enforcement authorities of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990.
"Native arts and crafts are the only art indigenous to America," Kyl said. "Inauthentic reproductions and mass-produced knockoffs 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. 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.
The 2007 legislation expands the investigative authority under the original act. Under this legislation, 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 and work with Department of Justice attorneys to prosecute the cases.
"Since the passage of the original act, we have learned that the law enforcement provisions, in particular, need strengthening," Kyl said. "The improvements we've introduced today will help to increase the number of complaints that are investigated and prosecuted."