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Old 10-27-2007, 12:32 AM   #1
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Is It Right????

Ok I'm in the mood to play devil's advocate. Must be the full moon and halloween just around the corner. LOL

Now everyone knows there are laws against say white people making "native items" and selling them as "Native Items" and I agree with this law. It seems the way around this is selling things and calling them "Native Style Items."

Now here's something to think about, that is not, as far as I know covered under the law. If I'm wrong someone please correct me.

If a person is a registered; for arguement's sake.... Seminole and is making Crow style bonnets. This person could technically get away with calling them "Crow bonnets" because they are registered, although not Crow. As far as I know the law does not break it down to that degree, limiting native people to only create items from their own tribe.

So shouldn't they have to technically call the items they are making "Crow style bonnets". I mean the Seminole do not wear bonnets like the Crow do. So it is not traditional to make bonnets. So why would they not be subject to the same rules a person of another race is subject to when it comes to selling "whatever style items".

Even if a white person is taught by a Seneca person how to make Gustehwas (spelling) properly, they must still call them Seneca style Gustehwas otherwise they are subject to being punished under the law.
So why is this not the case for other Native people making items outside of their own tribe? Does it bother you to see a Dine' sell birch bark baskets that they made?
What are your opinions on this?
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Old 10-29-2007, 08:49 PM   #2
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I was hoping this thread would spark an interesting and serious discussion on this topic, but perhaps my wording didn't come out right, or maybe this would be a better topic for the chit chat forum
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Old 10-29-2007, 08:55 PM   #3
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When in doubt, ask.

If a Dine is selling Birch Bark Baskets, I would ask how they learned this.

As for the Bonnet, maybe that seneca person was taught by a crow.

it depends is the best statement for things like this.
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Old 10-29-2007, 09:11 PM   #4
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Good subject! There is intelligent debate here. I agree with you in that it is a unique situation that a Seminole, Seneca, Dine (or anyone else) would make and sell an item they may or may not be familiar with. However, many people do inter-marry what if their spouse or relative is from that nation and taught them how to make these items? And what about beadwork? There are so many styles, techniques that have all been used and shared by so many. Think about all of the different styles of dance outfits too? Still my opinion, although small, is that if it's not from your area sell it properly tagged as such, "style". People take their traditions real serious kind of a touchy subject. Is there anyone else out there?
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Old 10-30-2007, 10:45 AM   #5
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If I were Dine, I'd have a business card or bio explaining I was Dine. With my items I'd have a label explaining what it was and what nation the item was associated with. I could label it "Indian made" but the whole picture would be in front of the buyer. If I myself were doing it, I'd do the same thing, but my bio would explain I was white with some Iroquois ancestry, and I would not label my item "Indian-made," or note on the label that it is "not Indian-made." Whichever, a craftsperson should put the whole picture in front of the buyer, one way or another. The "style" workaround might alert experienced buyers about what is going on, but I don't think that's good enough. There's what the law requires, and then there's what honest business dealing requires, which is more, IMHO.
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Old 10-31-2007, 12:00 AM   #6
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EEZ...this guy...just trying to start an argument.

Is this really a problem? Intertribal powwows (and other cultural/social exchanges) are creating Pan-Indianism. And you're right, the law doesn't break it down like that. There's enough of a problem with white and imported "native american" goods.

But with all the intermarriage, traveling, and what not...there are people who make crafts from all kinds of tribes. I've seen great Seminole "style" patchwork on Navajo made shirts and dresses. The list of examples can go on and on.

Who is going to be the "Indian craft police" saying which tribes can create which manner of crafts? What a nightmare this would create!! But I'm sure you're up for it SpottedEagle.

Sorry to be devil's advocate to your devil's advocate. But really...if you think it's a problem for the things you buy...just thoroughly question the seller.
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Old 10-31-2007, 10:16 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wyo_rose View Post
EEZ...this guy...just trying to start an argument.

Is this really a problem? Intertribal powwows (and other cultural/social exchanges) are creating Pan-Indianism. And you're right, the law doesn't break it down like that. There's enough of a problem with white and imported "native american" goods.

But with all the intermarriage, traveling, and what not...there are people who make crafts from all kinds of tribes. I've seen great Seminole "style" patchwork on Navajo made shirts and dresses. The list of examples can go on and on.

Who is going to be the "Indian craft police" saying which tribes can create which manner of crafts? What a nightmare this would create!! But I'm sure you're up for it SpottedEagle.

Sorry to be devil's advocate to your devil's advocate. But really...if you think it's a problem for the things you buy...just thoroughly question the seller.
Relax! It's not like who gets to have atom bombs, and it's fine with me if anybody makes and sells anything they want,
but as a collector, I want to know what I'm getting and who made it, and while I might have some savvy now, I didn't when I was first collecting and I bought some things I might not have if I'd had more know-how. It's one thing to buy a Navajo rug by a Navajo weaver - it's another if it's woven by a person from another culture and you didn't know that. Make and sell what you want - just disclose.
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:38 PM   #8
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Well Joe... the dineh in alaska make birch bark baskets.... LOL!! Forgot about them did'nt ya? hehehehe.
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Old 10-31-2007, 02:49 PM   #9
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Im surpised this thread has not been fully hijacked yet.

But as far as the question is concerned I'd have to go the distance and drop this off on the shoulders of tribal leaders and elders. It would be appropiate to develop proper protocol when it comes to making another tribes art style. I personally think it should be ok for other tribal members to create art of another tribe so as long as credit is due to the tribe the art is derived from. Its very important for many reasons that tribes are recognized for their style of art even if it means stealing or borrowing techniques. Perhaps a little disclaimer giving reference to tribal origins of the art would be very appropriate.
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Old 10-31-2007, 06:02 PM   #10
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OMG, tribal politics brought into this!!!

But yeah, I can see a disclaimer like SouthWestern silver earrings, or whatever. A lot of times it's not copying a certain tribe's style, but a REGIONAL style.
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Old 10-31-2007, 06:13 PM   #11
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FRYBREAD, Blackbear! I was just going to bring up that fact since that is my husband's blood. This is a very good topic for discussion.
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Old 10-31-2007, 06:15 PM   #12
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As an artist and vendor, I always give credit where credit is due, its the best thing to do, since you can only guess at your buyer's level of education on Native Arts and craftwork.
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Old 10-31-2007, 07:16 PM   #13
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Of course, the history of art and crafts among the various American Indian nations - and nations of the world, for that matter - is seeing something one likes in another culture and adapting it to one's own use.
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Old 11-01-2007, 06:08 AM   #14
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Honestly when I got the idea for this thread I was thinking we don't get the opportunity to seriously discuss a topic in Crafts or Beadwork too often. The more I thought about it, the more I thought it might be a good topic for debate amoungst my fellow craftspeople. I Promise, wasn't ment to start any drama, just good old fashion debate and something to talk about.

Wyo I don't know how big of a "problem" it is. Here are some examples of what made me think of this. A white person is married to a native. The native wife teaches the husband to make whatever. The couple ownes a trading post or they vend at powwows. The wife and husband both make the things they sell and the both look identical. Should they mark which pieces the husband made and price them lower. Should they put up a sign that says some of these are made by me and some aren't, you figure out which ones.

A black person (can't always pick on the white guys and gals) has grown up being best friends with a native. They have know each other their whole lives. The native teaches the black how to make something. The black gets really good at making this item, does it in all the right ways. The way the item should be made. Some people see his work and ask him to make them some. Flattered he does. This continues and the black decides to make and sell more of these because he enjoys it, and it's a little extra money.

A Creek Native has an uncle who is Zuni. The Uncle teaches the him how to make Kachinas. He become really good at making them an starts selling them.

Now honestly looking at all of these scenarios is there really that big of a difference between any of them? They all learned how to make the items correctly and do it in a good way. In these examples.....one might consider the craft items native in a certain context.

Now you have the typical ebay seller, who says "my granny was a Chair-o-key Princess". Who just decided to throw some chicken feathers on on a stick and call it native. COMPLETELY different story!!!!!!!!! LOL
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Old 11-01-2007, 11:54 AM   #15
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Au Contraire! BIG difference. And I think it's pronounced Chair - o - Kay!

But yeah, we need some good craft discussions. Thanks!

'Nywayz, the law is pretty clear on non-natives selling stuff. And WHY??? To protect native crafts people somewhat, but buyers mostly. I'm sure it wasn't these little craftspeople that got the law passed, but the wealthy buyers that got burned and have some clout with lawmakers.

As far as the ndn relative selling Kachinas - Caveat Emptor - Let the Buyer Beware. From what I've seen most people are proud to label their work with their tribal affiliation. I mean geez, if it's quality work, then why not buy a Kachina from the dude. If it's a Kachina made to sell, it's not an "real" one anyway.

We need to give Native Crafts people a break. For a lot, it's their only source of income. For a lot, it's keeping their traditions from being lost. Do we really want the market diluted with inferior, mass-produced, and non-native made items? Oh what? It already is...you just can't label it as NATIVE.
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Old 11-01-2007, 04:39 PM   #16
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This also applies to those who are native, or native decent and are not registered as well. They can't label their craftwork as being Native, according to the law. This is what gets some people into trouble and upsets others I think.

I can understand the "collector's" Who want the "real thing" being upset, but shouldn't they as serious collectors take the time to make sure what they are buying is authentic. I would think the "serious collector" is going to have the resources to do that.

I know that a lot of native craftspeople are selling their work out of necessity to put food on the table. Or to supliment their income.

Like I said, it makes a good topic for discussion though. Perhaps someone might read this thread and it will keep them from getting themselves into trouble. Perhaps it will give someone an idea why Natives get so upset when they see some of that hokey stuff people try to see as being "ceremonial blah blah authentic native blah blah" on ebay.
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Old 11-01-2007, 06:27 PM   #17
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When I buy something "native-style," I prefer to buy from a native person. I know a lot of them are trying to put bread on the table - I'd rather my $$$ go to them than to a sweatshop in China.
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Old 11-03-2007, 02:35 PM   #18
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First of all I would like to thank SpottedEagle for starting this thread. It does raise questions, which I myself have asked. I personally do not see a problem with a Dine' selling birch bark baskets. In fact I would love to see what they came up with. Because everybody has their own signature so to speak when creating an item. I, myself have dabbled in creating pieces that are not of my tribal decent. I am married to a full blood Lakota woman and she has taught me many of her people's traditional items in which I have turned around and incorporated into my own works. So I have no problem with sharing skills to further advance our works.
How do we actually know where certain items derive from? I see some websites selling Ojibwe dreamcatchers, where they claim that the dreamcatcher derived from the Ojibs. How does anyone truly know where a piece like that come from. I do understand that certain pieces (like moccasins) can be identified as to which tribe it came from by the style of beadwork. But how do we know where these styles came from. Could they have been traded and learned from other tribes peoples?
The law in which to protect the interest of craftspeople and buyers is a good one I believe, because it does keep a lot of crap from flooding an already tight market.If the law were to break down as to which tribe can only produce certain items. Who would hold the copyrights to these items?
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:08 AM   #19
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I don't know if "pan-Indian" is always the best way to call tribal sharing, which is what I see when someone from one tribe makes something from another. I say sharing because I am assuming at some point that the Seminole learned from a Dine. I think something else to keep in mind is that its not like at some random historical point in time, maybe pre-contact, we all had our own specific tribal crafts that no other tribes shared. When I worked at a museum, I saw wampum that had made its way from the East Coast all the way out to the Cheyennes. Indian people had vast trade routes running from South America into North America and its really hard I think to say "oh yes, this is definitely 100% of any tribe" because since time began, we've always been trading with and influencing one another.
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