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Fraudulent Native artist billed with violating Indian Arts and Crafts Act

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U.S. Department of the Interior: Secretary Deb Haaland on supporting Indian artists and the Indian Arts and Crafts Act&#13

Fraudulent Indigenous artist billed with violating Indian Arts and Crafts Act

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

By Acee Agoyo


A Washington gentleman who claims to be a Native artist has been billed with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act and for illegally possessing eagle feathers and other chook components.

Lewis Anthony Rath, who goes by Tony Rath, claimed to be a element of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, a federally regarded Indian nation in Arizona. As this kind of, he was marketing and selling his is effective as “Indian” manufactured, according to a federal complaint very first described by The Each day Beast.

On the other hand, federal brokers determined Rath was “not a lineal descendant or an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, or any other federal or condition acknowledged Indian tribe in the United States,” the November 23 grievance reads.

“RATH admitted that he is not a lineal descendant or an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe,” Sean W. Hyrons, a exclusive agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Support, writes in the 14-page submitting. “He to begin with denied at any time symbolizing himself as an Apache from San Carlos to any of his buyers, but later admitted telling his prospects that he was San Carlos Apache. RATH subsequently claimed that his beginning mom told him he experienced some Indian bloodlines that may well be Apache.”

“However, he spelled out that he later uncovered by DNA testing that he had Mayan ancestry from Mexico,” Hyrons continued.

As element of an investigation that included undercover agents, Hyrons claimed federal authorities discovered Rath’s performs ended up being sold at two spots in Seattle: Raven’s Nest Treasure and Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. The two organizations explained Rath held himself out to be an Indian and furnished them with biographies declaring the same, in accordance to the complaint.

Having said that, the proprietor of Raven’s Nest Treasure — identified in the submitting by the initials “MS” — grew to become reticent when interviewed in human being by federal agents and “stated he had never conspired or agreed with anybody to misrepresent merchandise bought at the gallery as Indian made.”

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Matthew Steinbrueck: Locate your way to the Ravens Nest in Pike Place&#13
But “MS” previously sold some of Rath’s functions — a “carved, wood totem pole and a necklace” — to undercover agents for a overall of $1,334.96, the grievance reads. He instructed the consumers the artist was “Native American” and presented them with the fraudulent biography, in accordance to the filing.

In addition, “MS” was marketing a carving made by Rath for $750, the document states. Raven’s Nest Treasure is situated in historic Pike Position Market place, a single of the most closely trafficked tourist parts in Seattle.

As for Ye Olde Curiosity Store, situated nearby on the Seattle waterfront, undercover agents ended up in a position to obtain a “carved wooden mask and totem pole” designed by Rath for $1,085.04. 3 other cravings had been currently being bought there for a whole of $1,270, and all had been marketed as being made by an artist from the San Carlos Apache Tribe, in accordance to the complaint.

Federal brokers also uncovered Rath bought his performs to somebody by means of Fb for a full of $1,050 and instructed the customer he was “Apache, Mexican and Mayan.” He informed another particular person he was “Apache and Mayan” right before asking her for $700 for a “bentwood box,” the grievance states.

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act was very first enacted in 1990. The federal legislation will make it a crime for an individual to market their items as “Indian” except if they are belong to a federally or point out recognized tribe, or are qualified as an “Indian artist” by a federally or condition acknowledged tribe.

The legislation is meant to safeguard individuals from obtaining fraudulent goods. But it also serves to defend the livelihoods of numerous American Indian and Alaska Indigenous artists, quite a few of whom rely on their traditions, artwork, garments and other merchandise to make a dwelling for them selves and their people.

“Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, it is illegal to market place artwork or craft products in a way that falsely implies it is Indigenous American made if it is not,” Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who is the initially Indigenous individual to provide in a presidential cupboard, stated in a video in help of Indian artists that was generated earlier this year.

Haaland qualified prospects the Division of the Interior, which involves the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Assistance, whose brokers investigated Rath’s circumstance. In addition to identifying his artwork profits, they discovered him to be in possession of golden eagle feathers and sections of other migratory birds devoid of right authorization.

Lewis Rath
Lewis Rath poses with carvings on a person of his social media accounts.
Owing to overhunting by non-Indians that diminished bald and golden eagle populations, eagle feathers and components are typically tough to appear by for citizens of federally recognized tribes. Only lately have golden eagle populations rebounded, Haaland declared before this calendar year.

“The bald eagle has always been considered a sacred species to American Indian people,” Haaland explained in March.

The complaint does not point out how Rath came into possession of golden eagle feathers and the pieces of secured birds, which includes owls, hawks and crows. The goods ended up seized from his house in January 2020, in accordance to the filing.

In addition to the criticism, Rath was issued a summons on Tuesday to answer to the 6 rates versus him. He was instructed to appear on December 10 at the federal courthouse in Seattle, the document reads.

The courthouse is component of the Western District of Washington, which handles federal situations in the western part of the condition.
The court recently observed the arrival of Lauren J. King, an legal professional citizen of the Muscogee Country who is the 1st Indigenous federal decide in Washington.

Pike Place Market

Pike Spot Current market in Seattle, Washington. Picture: Jim Nix
Washington is property to 29 federally regarded Indian nations. Some of their tribal traditions consist of totem poles and carvings like the types Rath was marketing and advertising as his very own.

A note on Raven’s Nest Treasure’s internet site reads: “Out of respect for generations-previous traditions, we only have genuine Indigenous Artwork.”

Read through Extra on the Tale

‘Apache’ Artist Faked Indigenous Heritage to Sell His Work, Feds Say (The Every day Beast November 24, 2021

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