Indian Art and the Law



I.  Public Law 101- 601, 25 USC ' 3001 et. seq.  Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (November 1990).

A.  Graves protection and repatriation.

1.  For many years scientists and scholars have maintained they have the right to open and otherwise disturb graves.

a.  Cultural perception of death, corpses and grave goods.

i.  Ethics are culturally determined.

aa.  Las momias.

bb.  Ghost sickness.

cc.  Cremation.

dd.  Mewuk name taboo.

b.  Pot hunting, grave robbing, site looting.

i.  Van Horn and the two grinding stones.

2.  The premise was that the rights of scientists take precedence over any one else, and extends to the right to keep and study specimens.

a.  Estimates range as high as 600,000 individuals represented in Native American bone collections.

b.  Some small distinctions made between public and private property and law.

3.  After years of protest by Indian people, Congress passed a law mandating the notification of tribes, by institutions who housed not only American Indian grave and burial goods but also sacred items.  Tribes so notified could then show ownership and repatriate objects

a.  P.L. 101-601 signed into law by George Bush on Nov. 16, 1990.

b.  Date for completed notification -- Jan 1996.

4.  Many state laws changed to reflect changes in public opinion.

a.  Wisconsin, Illinois, Alabama.

5.  Tribal monitors work closely with archaeologists and anthropologists at excavations.

a.  State and private funded digs, some of note at Newport Beach, Demonigoni Valley, Go Road, Mt. Shasta.

B.  Indian Arts and Crafts Act

1.  Signed into law Nov. 20, 1990.  Title I of P. L. 101-644 states that it is unlawful to offer for sale or display any good in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe or Indian arts and craft organization.

a.  Penalty for first offense max. $250,000 fine and/or five-years in prison.

b.  Subsequent offense max. $1,000,000 fine and/or fifteen years in prison.

c.  Counterfeiting the seal of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board max. $250,000 and/or five years in prison.

2.  To be officially certified one must be an enrolled member of a tribe or if not a member, a tribe must certify an artist as an "Indian artisan."

C.  Enforced by the Department of the Interior, Indian Arts and Crafts Board.

D.  Who do these issues affect?

1.  Collectors, public and private.

2.  Non-Indian artists and crafts people.

3.  Landowners.

4.  Indian people.

5.  Indian artists.

6.  Merchants.


III.  Public policies and laws which affected art making.

A.  Laws

1.  Bounty on the heads of CA Indian people.

        a. Male $50.

  b. Female or child $5.

2.  Prohibitions against burning.

3.  Indenture and bondage.  "Jim Crow" laws.

a.  Children and unemployed men could be indentured for years.

b.  Prisoners sold at the Los Angeles slave market.

4.  Prohibition of eagle feathers affects un-enrolled Indians

B. Policies

1.  Indian access to land and water cut off by Anglo claims. No place to hunt and gather.

2.  Extinction of herds caused lack of materials and food.

3.  Combining tribes on reservations under treaty provisions caused conflict.

a.  Round River, Tejon, Pala.

4.  Forced attendance at Indian schools like Sherman and Carlisle.

a.  "Mother tongues" forbidden.

b.  Taught service trades. Couldn't learn Native arts and crafts.

c.  Removed from home and traditional teachers.

d.  Often rented out as servants in White homes.

  5. Quasi-charitable outsiders (desired to convert "heathens" & to stop hunger) introduced new art forms.

a. Lace Making in Southern California

b. wood carving