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Interior Dept. seeks input on proposed changes to Indian Arts and Crafts Act rules

The exterior of an adobe-style courtyard has a sign that reads "Gallery" and a table set under the arch. A painted Virgin Mary panel leans against the wall. It's a sunny day.
Andriy Blokhin
Adobe Stock
Shop Art Gallery souvenir store in the town of Chimayo, New Mexico, with adobe style architecture.

The Department of Interior wants to hear from tribal leaders and Native artists regarding proposed changes to how the Indian Arts and Crafts Act is implemented.

That law bars the fraudulent presentation of arts and crafts as being Indigenous-produced or the product of a tribal nation.

Starting this month and going through August, the Interior Department is holding a series of listening sessions and direct consultations with tribes regarding changes in the law’s regulations. They include a possible expansion of what constitutes an "Indian Product" under the law, as well as allowing non-Native labor to be used in the making of such products.

A top department official said in a release that the agency hopes the updates further guarantee that Native people are fairly compensated for their labor and that Indigenous arts and crafts are authentic.

“Arts and crafts are important to Native communities, both culturally and economically,” Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland said. “Updating these regulations to include modern forms of art and craft work will support Indigenous artisans and craftspeople.”

The next listening session will be held on Thursday, April 27, in Albuquerque, N.M. Information on all sessions and the proposed changes can be found here.

Among the questions to be discussed at the listening sessions are whether the proposed expansion of items that qualify as "Indian Products" encompasses the full range of work done by Native artists and whether the law should apply to Native Hawaiian Organizations.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Murphy Woodhouse