This evening I was mulling over the recent attack on several of our team members by self appointed police seeking Etsy members who may be in violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA).
A blog was written recently that called out Etsy sellers who the author felt were in violation of the IACA. In the blog, she suggested that if one wanted to find “authentic” Etsy sellers they could visit her “Favorites” on Etsy. I did just that.
I found several of her “favorites” to include Etsy sellers who do not meet the IACA definition of a Native American. While she called out several sellers by name in her blog, I am choosing not to do that. However, I am using some photos of work from a seller listed in her favorites that demonstrate my question for this blog and the duplicity that exists.
Is someone who promotes their work as Native American Inspired more or less acceptable than one who promotes their work as Native American when the designs they use to create the item(s) were done by non-natives? That is the thought to ponder.
The seller that I am using for an example does not state a tribal affiliation any kind that I could find in her shop announcement or her profile. She does state she likes Pow Wows (so do many non-natives) and titles her work Native American.
Here is a photo of one such item titled Native American End of the Trail Beaded Earrings.
This pattern is straight out of Barbara Elbe’s book, Beaded Images. Barbara is not Native American to the best of my knowledge. The Etsy seller offering these earrings in no way credits the designer. I make these earrings too but always credit the designer when I have a pair listed.
So, can Natives take designs from non-natives and that is OK but it isn’t OK for non-native to take Native Designs? Should these earrings not be titled: Native American Beaded Earrings Trail’s End White Style?
The same thing applies to these earrings. Titled Native American Beaded Red, Green and Yellow Parrot Earrings. Again the seller does not mention the designer in her description. But there they are…right on the cover of Barbara’s book with a small adaptation to the fringe.
This same seller has these so called “handmade” earrings for sale: They are $8.50 per pair.
Compare them to this Ebay link: You can buy 20 pairs of these Peruvian made earrings for $18.50.
This same seller also sells Peruvian jewelry as Native American.
Peruvian jewelry is available all over Ebay, Alibaba and Gems of Peru:
This seller’s work is listed in the blog author’s “favorites” and we were led to believe that she would show us “the real deal”if we clicked on that link.
That is how I found this favorite of hers. The seller does not provide a tribal affiliation, uses designs that her not her own and does not credit the designer and then sells Peruvian jewelry as handmade by her and titles it Native American.
So, which is worse…a seller who does “Native Inspired” work and identifies it as such or one who claims to be registered and uses non-native designs, fails to credit the designer and promotes the item as Native American? Or is the bigger offender one who sells imported wholesale jewelry and promotes it as Native American? I can assure you, this seller would not be on my list of favorites if I were suggesting that my favorites provided work by artists that were in compliance with the IACA!
So before policing people who title their works appropriately and make no attempt to deceive visitors to their stores, perhaps the policing should start with one’s own favorites if they are going to be held out as authentic Native American sellers who are in compliance with IACA. Agree or disagree?