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Two Western Washington artists billed with misrepresenting them selves as Indigenous American carvers | USAO-WDWA

Seattle – In two separate felony instances, Western Washington artists are billed with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by representing themselves as Native American artists, when they have no tribal membership or heritage, announced U.S. Lawyer Nick Brown.  The males, 52-yr-previous Lewis Anthony Rath, of Maple Falls, Washington, and 67-year-previous Jerry Chris Van Dyke aka Jerry Witten, of Seattle, will make their preliminary look on the issues in U.S. District Court docket in Seattle at 2:00 PM now.

“Our special agents look into crimes that violate the Indian Arts and Crafts Act on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board,” explained Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Workplace of Regulation Enforcement. “By flooding the current market with counterfeit Native American artwork and craftwork, these crimes cheat the customer, undermine the economic livelihood of Indigenous American artists, and impairs Indian tradition. We thank the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and the U.S. Section of Justice for their help with these investigations.”

The investigation of Jerry Van Dyke started in February 2019, when the Indian Arts and Crafts Board been given a grievance that Van Dyke was symbolizing himself as a Nez Perce Indian Artist, when in reality, he is not an enrolled tribal member.  Investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Provider designed undercover purchases at a gallery in the Pike Spot Marketplace location of Seattle that marketed pendants Van Dyke had manufactured as Indigenous American Art.  Van Dyke made use of the name Witten for these income.  When interviewed by agents, Van Dyke admitted understanding about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, and admitted he was not a tribal member.  Via the gallery Van Dyke had marketed much more than $1,000 worth of carved pendants represented as Indigenous American artwork dependent on Aleut masks.

Van Dyke is billed with two counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Generated Merchandise and Products and solutions,

The investigation of Anthony Rath started in May possibly 2019, after a grievance to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.  The investigation disclosed that Rath falsely represented himself to be a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.   Undercover agents purchased a carved totem pole and necklace from the same Pike Put Current market gallery for extra than $1,334.  Brokers found the gallery experienced other carvings by Rath that were being represented as Native developed.  At another store on the Seattle waterfront agents ordered yet another carved totem pole and a mask, once more represented to be Indian produced.  The biography of the artist at the two outlets falsely claimed that Rath was Indigenous American.  Web web sites Rath employed to offer his artwork also falsely assert he is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

When agents executed a research warrant on Rath’s Whatcom County home and studio, they observed he also possessed feathers from secured birds: golden eagles and other migratory birds these as hawks, jays, owls and additional. 

Rath is billed with 4 counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Produced Items and Goods, a single misdemeanor count of Unlawful Possession of Golden Eagles Parts and one misdemeanor rely of Illegal Possession of Migratory Hen Areas.

Misrepresentation of Indian Developed Items and Products and solutions is punishable by up to 5 many years in prison.  The misdemeanor counts linked to chook sections are punishable by up to 1 calendar year in prison.

The prices contained in the grievances are only allegations.  A man or woman is presumed innocent unless and till he or she is established guilty beyond a affordable question in a courtroom of legislation.

The scenarios are being investigated by the National Fish and Wildlife Assistance.  The circumstances are remaining prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Tate London.