Thread: IACA ReDux
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Old 01-07-2012, 05:58 PM   #130
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Originally Posted by yaahl View Post
I guess what I'm seeing in the IACA is a lack of protection for the actual artist as opposed to the consumer protection it offers.

I've seen both sides of the debate where one faction claims it's to stop non-natives from making a buck on the back of native artisans and crafters. I agree with the notion that something is necessary to stop the mass production of "Indian" trinkets that are made in China and I'd love to see those little brown dolls vanish at the airport gift shops as much as anyone. The other faction sets out that the act is all about protecting them from being ripped off by non-natives by those nons getting a piece of the market pie when they think it all belongs to them.

When you really look at the IACA, it's teeth are more towards the consumer protection rather than the artist and personally, I think that it's another piece of legislation that serves no one but the non-native tourist/consumer.

I'm going to hazard a guess and assume most folks here have heard of if not seen the works of Haida artist, Bill Reid. Think about this, way back in our dark days of being in the total control of Indian Affairs, band membership was defined by a plethora of categories set out by Indian Affairs. One category was the enfranchisement of Indian women who married a non-status Indian man. Essentially, it made instant white woman of Indian women based on who they married.

Back when Bill Reid was born, according to Indian Affairs, his mother, Haida, married a non-status Scottish man and therefore would be considered a non Indian by Indian Affairs. Now the Haida people would have always considered Bill to be Haida because everything comes through the mother but his parents didn't tell him anything about his Haida roots until he was a teen. During Bill's more prolific time period as a Haida artist he was according to Indian Affairs, legally not an Indian. He wouldn't have his legal status restored until 1985 when Bill C31 was enacted. International collectors might have found this troubling as the Act is retroactive to the 1930s.

Can you imagine what the art world would have lost if Bill had been living in the US (as he could have - his father was an American citizen)? None of his work would ever have been considered native, let alone Haida. That's one of the reasons why I can't buy into the IACA completely. The other reason is that on the surface it looks like it protects Native artisans but if falls short of offering anything more than authenticating their work as Native.

I'm an advocate that if you're going to legislate something, then give the legislation teeth beyond the superficial. I'm a firm believer that as the copyright holder and Intellectual Property rights, visual artists really need to have those rights better protected. I also believe that there are still art dealers that are unscrupulous in the manner in which they procure their merchandise. Art dealers flocked to Cape Dorset and bought up soapstone carvings by the crate for a trivial amount and turned around and sold them for thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to collectors. The Inuit never got a dime past what they were offered by the dealers. But they got smart and formed an Artist co-op in their communities to prevent members from being taken advantage by dealers.

IP rights for visual work has often been forgotten in the royalties debate. Musicians, performers, writers all get royalties when their works are sold and re-sold but visual artists (except in some jurisdictions like Cali) get nada. I wish the IACA would have included that provision for resale royalties. Why would those who see the act as a means to protect income, not seek future protection for additional income from re-sales. Provenance is included through the IACA, why not royalties?

Enforcement is something every legislative act has problems with. I guess the question is, why are they having problems enforcing it? If offenders are being identified, then what is causing the lack of prosecution? Is it that these offenders are being forewarned by being challenged in public and heading underground and the evidence disappears or is it that folks that know when there is an offender not calling the 1-800-snitch line to report them?

Think of it another way, if anyone knew that there was a welfare fraud living near them would they walk up to their door and tell them to stop? Or would they call their suspicions in to the appropriate authorities? Which is more likely to actually stop the offender from repeated behaviour?

anyway... my two elk teeth

The consumer must protect themselves, there will always be the person who will purchase a ring made in Taiwan because it is cheaper than one made by Begay, but it will never have the quaility of the Begay art nor will it gain in value... You cannot stop people from doing what they want... however, with the law, the ring from Taiwan cannot be sold as Indian made, or as Indian art, that is what the law is about.

The law is not as much about protecting a artist, it is to protect the art. I cannot go to China, mass produce toys, ship them to the US and claim they were made in the USA...

The law does not stop non Native people from making money, the law stops them from selling it is Indian made.

If people are whinning about this law now, cant wait to hear them whine when and if we can get the revisions made to the laws that we are currently seeking.

Not long ago, a woman claiming to be of the "Morning Star Tribe" was selling her beadwork as Indian made, I emailed her and informed her she was in violation of the IACA, to which she responded that she paid her membership dues and could do what she wanted.... yes, I did turn the issue over to the IACA board, within a week, the woman changed her website and stopped her claims of being a Indian artist from this false group she was with....

I support the law, I am willing to enforce it, and more and more, people are contacting us for advice on enforcing it in their areas.
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