1. Local

Discuss in my forum

Native American Art

Buying Native American Art Can Be Confusing

By

Kachina dolls, sand paintings, jewelry, baskets, fetishes, woven rugs, story tellers, pottery--there are many fine pieces of art created by members of Indian tribes. If you are considering buying a piece of Native American art, here are some tips that will ensure you are forever happy with your purchase.

Do...

purchase authentic Native American arts and crafts directly from the artist, from galleries or at special shows. Attend functions and festivals that draw Native American artists to them. Talk to them. Learn which artists create pieces that you enjoy and that are authentic with respect to materials and process.

Don't...

feel that you have to spend thousands of dollars to enjoy Native American arts and crafts. Posters and more mass-produced items still make nice gifts and decorations, and there are lesser known artists who produce less expensive pieces. Just like oil paintings or bronze statues, you can spend $35 or you can spend $35,000. Know what the purpose of your purchase is--investment art? collector of a certain artist's work? Souvenir?

Do...

know what makes a Kachina well constructed, or what makes a piece of jewelry or a woven basket a quality piece. There is no shortcut here. You must understand the art form and what makes one piece better than the all the rest. Study, study, study.

Don't...

be shy about asking questions. Anyone selling Native American art must disclose the authenticity of what they are selling. Authentic Native American artwork is identified with a Trademark of the artist and often with the Tribe of they are a member.

Do...

everything you can to verify the authenticity of the piece of art. Find out who the artists is and about him/her. Visit museums that showcase Native American arts and crafts.

Don't...

hesitate to contact the Tribe of the artist to authenticate the validity of the item you are considering purchasing.

Do...

buy from a reputable dealer who has a relationship with the artist. Ask if you can return the piece if you are not satisfied with it.

Don't...

believe everything that you are told by a store clerk or that you read at online stores on the Internet. There are many books that can help you educate yourself about Native American arts and crafts. Do your research, and enjoy your work of art!

Do...

know the law. The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644) is a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products within the United States. If you purchase an art or craft product represented to you as Indian-made, and you learn that it is not, first contact the dealer to request a refund. If the dealer does not respond to your request, you can also contact your local Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, and the local District Attorney's office, as you would with any consumer fraud complaint. Second, contact the Indian Arts and Crafts Board with your written complaint regarding violations of the Act.

Don't...

buy it if you don't love it.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.