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Western District of Washington | Two Western Washington artists plead guilty to illegally misrepresenting their get the job done as “Indian Produced”

Seattle – In two individual legal instances, Western Washington artists pleaded guilty nowadays to violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by symbolizing on their own as Indigenous American artists, when they have no tribal enrollment or heritage, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. The males, 52-yr-aged Lewis Anthony Rath, of Maple Falls, Washington, and 67-12 months-old Jerry Chris Van Dyke aka Jerry Witten, of Seattle, equally pleaded responsible now and will be sentenced on May 17, 2023.

“When non-Native artists falsely claim Indian heritage, they can acquire product sales away from true Indian artists performing to assist by themselves with abilities and methods handed down for generations,” stated U.S. Lawyer Nick Brown. “Stores and galleries want to husband or wife with artists to make certain those artisans and craftsmen marketed as Indian Artists really have tribal standing.”

The investigation of Jerry Van Dyke began in February 2019, when the Indian Arts and Crafts Board obtained a complaint that Van Dyke was symbolizing himself as a Nez Perce Indian Artist, when in simple fact, he is not an enrolled tribal member. Investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Provider made undercover purchases at a gallery in the Pike Location Sector area of Seattle that marketed pendants Van Dyke experienced produced as Indigenous American

art. Van Dyke applied the identify Witten for these income. When interviewed by agents, Van Dyke admitted knowing about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, and admitted he was not a tribal member. Through the gallery Van Dyke experienced sold a lot more than $1,000 value of carved pendants represented as Indigenous American artwork based on Aleut masks. According to the plea arrangement, Van Dyke experienced labored with the gallery for much more than 10 a long time, with the gallery proprietor supplying him with woolly mammoth ivory, antlers, animal bones and fossilized walrus ivory to make the pendants that it sold.

Van Dyke pleaded guilty to Misrepresentation of Indian Generated Products and Items. The crime is punishable by up to one particular yr in prison.

The investigation of Anthony Rath started in May 2019, following a grievance to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. The investigation exposed that Rath falsely represented himself to be a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Undercover agents procured a carved totem pole and necklace from the very same Pike Location Current market gallery for more than $1,334. Agents found the gallery experienced other carvings by Rath that have been represented as Indigenous produced. At a further store on the Seattle waterfront agents purchased

one more carved totem pole and a mask, all over again represented to be Indian developed. The biography of the artist at equally shops falsely claimed that Rath was Indigenous American. Internet websites Rath applied to market his artwork also falsely claim he is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

When brokers executed a search warrant on Rath’s Whatcom County home and studio, they discovered he also possessed feathers from secured birds: golden eagles and other migratory birds this sort of as hawks, jays, owls and a lot more. Rath is forfeiting all individuals feathers to the govt.

Rath pleaded responsible to Misrepresentation of Indian Generated Items and Products and solutions, Illegal Possession of Golden Eagle Elements and Illegal Possession of Migratory Chicken Areas. Misrepresentation of Indian Created Goods and Items and Unlawful Possession of Golden Eagle Elements are punishable by up to a single 12 months in prison, even though Illegal Possession of Migratory Fowl Elements is punishable by up to six months in jail.

“The Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB) is very delighted that Jerry Chris Van Dyke and Anthony Rath have been brought to justice for their roles in providing phony Indian artwork in violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act,” reported U.S Office of the Inside IACB Director Meridith Stanton. The IACB is dependable by statute for administering the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, an anti-counterfeiting statute adopted by Congress aimed at ridding the Indian arts and crafts market of fakes like individuals becoming offered by defendants Van Dyke and Rath. “Cases like these are critical to preserving the integrity and viability of genuine Indigenous American art and craftwork in basic, as very well as preserving the prosperous cultural heritage of the Nez Perce Tribe and the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the economic livelihoods of their artists and craftspeople,” Director Stanton additional. “The IACB applauds the diligent work of the U.S. Attorney’s Workplace-Western District of Washington and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Assistance IACA Enforcement Device in investigating and prosecuting these vital cases.” 

“Protecting Indigenous American society and traditions is a essential portion of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act,” reported Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Business office of Legislation Enforcement. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s committed crew of specific agents operate on behalf of the U.S. Division of the Inside and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to uphold the rule of law and be certain that individuals who pick to misrepresent the advertising of Indian arts and crafts solutions are brought to justice. Lewis Anthony Rath and Jerry Van Dyke took benefit of Native American artists and U.S. individuals for personalized and money get and must be held accountable for their actions.” 

Below the terms of the plea agreement Van Dyke and prosecutors will equally advise no jail time period. On the other hand, the final sentence is up to U.S. District Decide Tana Lin.

There is no agreed sentencing recommendation for Rath.

The situations are being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services. The situations are becoming prosecuted by Assistant United States Legal professional and Tribal Liaison J. Tate London.