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Two Western Washington artists billed with misrepresenting them selves as Native American carvers

Seattle – In two independent legal scenarios, Western Washington artists are billed with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by symbolizing by themselves as Native American artists, when they have no tribal membership or heritage, declared U.S. Lawyer Nick Brown.  The gentlemen, 52-calendar year-aged Lewis Anthony Rath, of Maple Falls, Washington, and 67-calendar year-previous Jerry Chris Van Dyke aka Jerry Witten, of Seattle, produced their original physical appearance on the grievances in U.S. District Court docket in Seattle at 2:00 PM December 10th.

“Our unique agents look into crimes that violate the Indian Arts and Crafts Act on behalf of the U.S. Section of the Inside and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board,” claimed Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Provider Workplace of Regulation Enforcement. “By flooding the industry with counterfeit Indigenous American art and craftwork, these crimes cheat the buyer, undermine the economic livelihood of Indigenous American artists, and impairs Indian society. We thank the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and the U.S. Division of Justice for their help with these investigations.”

The investigation of Jerry Van Dyke began in February 2019, when the Indian Arts and Crafts Board received a grievance that Van Dyke was symbolizing himself as a Nez Perce Indian Artist, when in truth, he is not an enrolled tribal member.  Investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Support created undercover buys at a gallery in the Pike Location Current market area of Seattle that marketed pendants Van Dyke had manufactured as Native American Art.  Van Dyke used the title Witten for these product sales.  When interviewed by brokers, Van Dyke admitted being aware of about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, and admitted he was not a tribal member.  As a result of the gallery Van Dyke experienced bought much more than $1,000 worthy of of carved pendants represented as Indigenous American artwork based mostly on Aleut masks.

Van Dyke is charged with two counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Manufactured Products and Merchandise.

The investigation of Anthony Rath started in May perhaps 2019, following a criticism 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 obtained a carved totem pole and necklace from the same Pike Location Sector gallery for more than $1,334.  Agents recognized the gallery experienced other carvings by Rath that were represented as Native developed.  At a different store on the Seattle waterfront agents bought a further carved totem pole and a mask, once again represented to be Indian developed.  The biography of the artist at each outlets falsely claimed that Rath was Indigenous American.  World-wide-web web-sites Rath applied to offer his artwork also falsely declare he is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

When brokers executed a look for warrant on Rath’s Whatcom County residence and studio, they located he also possessed feathers from secured birds: golden eagles and other migratory birds such as hawks, jays, owls and additional. 

Rath is charged with four counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Produced Goods and Solutions, a person misdemeanor count of Unlawful Possession of Golden Eagles Components and a single misdemeanor rely of Unlawful Possession of Migratory Hen Areas.

Misrepresentation of Indian Generated Goods and Items is punishable by up to 5 many years in prison.  The misdemeanor counts related to fowl components are punishable by up to 1 yr in prison.

The expenses contained in the problems are only allegations.  A human being is presumed innocent except and right up until he or she is tested responsible over and above a sensible doubt in a court docket of legislation.

The cases are getting investigated by the Countrywide Fish and Wildlife Company.  The situations are currently being prosecuted by Assistant United States Lawyer J. Tate London.

Source: US DOJ