There is new blood on Etsy that is seeking out violators of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.  They appear to be somewhat mis-informed about the IACA board’s position on the use of “style or inspired”. 

One of our members was contacted by the IACA Board in the past.  The letter was posted in our forum pages and is reproduced here with the name of the member removed for reasons of confidentiality. 

The use of “style and inspired” work is not only appropriate, it was in fact suggested by the IACA Board Director in the last paragraph of this letter. 

Here is the letter:

As you are in the business of selling art and craft products as “Cherokee,” “Choctaw,” and “Lakota” through your Etsy store,  the Indian Arts and Crafts Board is providing you with information on the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (Act), Public Law 101-644, as amended. Upon review of the Act and its accompanying regulations, found at, you will see that the Act is essentially a truth-in-advertising law designed to prevent the marketing of art and craft products as “Indian” made when they are not made by Indians as defined by the Act.

Under the Act, it is unlawful to directly or indirectly offer or display for sale, or sell, any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian Tribe. According to the implementing regulations, unqualified use of the terms “Indian,” “Native American,” or the names of particular Indian Tribes in connection with the sale or display for sale of an Indian art or craft product will be interpreted to mean that the maker is a member of a federally or officially State recognized Indian Tribe, a member of the Tribe named, or is certified by an Indian Tribe as a non-member artisan; 25 C.F.R. §309.24. In order for your art and craft products to be sold as Indian or Native American or as the product of a particular Indian Tribe, it must be produced by an enrolled member of a federally or officially State recognized Tribe, or by an individual who has been formally certified as a non-member Indian artisan by the federally or officially State recognized Tribe of their direct descent.

For a first time violation of the Act, an individual can face civil penalties up to a $250,000 fine or a 5-year prison term, or both. If a business violates the Act, it can face civil penalties or can be prosecuted and fined up to $1,000,000.

If you are not enrolled in a federally or officially State recognized Cherokee or Lakota Tribe, you should immediately refrain from marketing your work as “Cherokee” and “Lakota.” If any of the other products you offer for sale are not made by enrolled members of federally or officially State recognized Tribes, you should also immediately refrain from marketing those products as “Indian,” “Native American,” or as the products of particular Tribes. Use of the terms “in the Cherokee style” or “Lakota inspired” would be appropriate when marketing your art and craft products.

If you have any questions about the Act, please consult the IACB website as, or contact us at 202-208-3773.


Meridith Stanton

The IACA Board was also contacted by me at this same time regarding the issue of tags.  The Board member that I talked with joined me on an Etsy site.  He declared that the title of the item I was calling about was a clear violation of the Act.  However, he was unwilling to state the IACA position on tags.  So until/unless the IACA Board or Etsy is willing to state a position, continue to use native american as a tag on appropriate items if you choose to do so. 

I know that none of our members would knowingly violate the IACA.  

I believe that all items listed by team members have been appropriately titled/tagged.  But we do have many new members who may not be aware of the law and its management.  This is posted as a reminder to all.  

If you have questions, please e-mail or convo me.