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Commodification, the Arts, & Native American Identity Katherine Gehin Lin Wu.

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Presentation on theme: "Commodification, the Arts, & Native American Identity Katherine Gehin Lin Wu."— Presentation transcript:

1 Commodification, the Arts, & Native American Identity Katherine Gehin Lin Wu

2 Cultural Importance of Native American Art Expression of unique cultural identity Distinctions through various designs, textiles, techniques, and symbolisms. Has both utilitarian and aesthetic functions Served the needs of daily activities Represents social and religious beliefs Contributes to modern economic sustainment

3 Branches of Native Arts Pottery Jewelry Paintings Weavings Basketry Sculptures Carvings

4 Functions of Native Arts Then and Now Native American women are well- known for their weavings, baskets and pottery arts. Originally these items were simple tools of everyday life, but today are appreciated as the art and artifacts of an ancient culture by tourists and collectors.

5 Laws and Organizations Various acts of legislations, associations, and political agendas aim to protect Native Americans and the authenticity of their cultural arts; while promoting a successful economic environment without jeopardizing their identity. Native American socio-cultural revival movement (New Deal Program) The Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB), U.S. Department of Interior Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 California Indian Basketweavers Association (CIBA) founded in 1992

6 Native American Socio-cultural Revival Movements Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal program was geared to help those people most affected by the Great Depression. Indians benefited greatly from the $11 billion spent on such programs as: Works Progress Administration National Recovery Act Indian Reorganization Act. This 1921 photograph, taken at Campobello, in New Brunswick, Canada, shows Roosevelt meeting with Governor Neptune, an Iroquois chief.

7 Works Progress Administration The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created by executive order in 1935, and in its eight years of existence it funded projects all across the country. Not only was America's infrastructure (roads, bridges, land management, etc.) affected, but thousands of art-related projects were undertaken. Under the WPA, Indians were given unprecedented autonomy over their own programs. Shown here is an Indian instructor teaching beadwork to Paiute girls at a school in Nevada, around 1940.

8 Indian Arts and Crafts Board IACB promotes the economic development of American Indians and Alaska Natives of federally recognized Tribes through the expansion of the Indian arts and crafts market. Provides promotional opportunities, general business advice, and information on the Indian Arts and Crafts Act to Native American artists, craftspeople, businesses, museums, and cultural centers of federally recognized tribes. Oversees the execution of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. Created under the act by Congress, but independent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. The board not only encourage d traditional Indian crafts production but also established markets, museums, and shops to acquaint the public with the beauty and quality of Indian crafts. (1937)

9 Commodification & the Arts Over the past few decades there has proven to be an increased interest in the romanticized idea of the Native American and their culture. This has resulted in the commodification of Indian identity, culture and their arts.

10 Market Forces With the commodification and growing interest in Native American Indians and their arts, this established a high market value for these items. This economic factor has created great incentives for the creation of unauthentic, mass produced, and forged items produced by non-Indians.

11 Forgeries of Native Arts In today’s world, the increased selling and marketing of unauthentic Native arts poses a very serious problem for the many recognized Native American artisans who strongly rely on the selling of there handmade products as a means of income. Pan-Indianism Powwows, tourist centers, internet Forgeries also manifest a negative stereotype towards Native Americans and the integrity, purity, and antiquity of their culture and arts.

12 The Solution to the Problem? The Indian Arts & Crafts Act In response to this ever growing issue, a piece of legislation was passed in 1990 known as, The Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which aimed to protect certified Indian artisans in the marketing, selling, and production of their handmade, authentic cultural arts.

13 Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 The Turning Point for Native Artisans States that it is illegal to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian tribe. Law covers all Indian and Indian-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935. Protects certified Indian artisans.

14 The Indian Arts & Crafts Act and Native American Identity However, as with any complex issue, additional concerns and matters needed to be addressed. In order for this act to be effective, a clear distinction needed to be established which stated who was, and was not an “Indian”. It was now a question of Native American identity and who would be granted this protection; and how would it be decided.

15 Who is an Indian? Protection According to the Indian Arts & Crafts Act Indian Defined as a member of a federally or officially State recognized tribe, or certified Indian artisan. Certified Indian Artisan Defined as an individual who is certified by the governing body of an Indian tribe as a non- member Indian artisan.

16 North American Indian Tribal Map

17 Violations & Enforcement Civil & Criminal Penalties For the first time violation of the act, an individual can face civil or criminal penalties up to a $250,000 fine or a five year prison term; and up to $1,000,000 in fines if a business is prosecuted. Consumer Complaints Anyone can file a written complaint with the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to which further investigation and possible prosecution may occur.

18 Effectiveness Is this Act Making a Difference? Law covers all Indian and Indian-style traditional and contemporary arts and crafts produced after 1935. Although the Act’s intentions are beneficial, it is very hard to regulate and enforce a matter of this magnitude. Additional amendments of the Act have been recently made to help compensate for the difficulty of its execution. Also, not enough attention and/or funds are being pushed towards the resolution of this problem. However, in response to this act, other groups have organized and are now aiding Native Americans with the restoration and protection of their cultural arts California Indian Basket Weavers Association

19 California Indian Basketweavers Association CIBA was founded in 1992, and now has around 800 members. Their mission is to preserve, promote, and perpetuate California Indian basket-weaving traditions while providing a healthy physical, social, spiritual, and economic environment for basket-weavers. Formed largely out of a need to protect plant species used by Californian Indian basket weavers.

20 Summary Although legislative acts have been established to prevent the unauthorized marketing and selling of Indian arts and crafts products, this practice still occurs. Only with increased funding and attention can pieces of legislation such as the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 be truly effective and efficient. Fortunately, Native arts are thriving because of encouragement from tribal leaders, support from various art programs, and the enthusiasm and pride of Native American artists themselves. Although it is a slow process, the new generations are learning from their elders the values and traditions meaningful to their ancestors. The revival of Native American arts helps to ensure their survival.

21 Bibliography e.cfm?subpage=intro et.html The Commodification of Indian Identity, by George Castile, (article) The Portal Case: Authenticity, Tourism, Traditions, and the Law, by Deirdre Evans-Pritchard, (article) The Legal Aspects of Indian Affairs from 1887 to 1957The Legal Aspects of Indian Affairs from 1887 to 1957, by Theodore H. Haas, (article)

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