Western District of Washington | Two Western Washington artists plead guilty to illegally misrepresenting their work as “Indian Produced”

Seattle – In two independent felony situations, Western Washington artists pleaded responsible these days to violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by representing on their own as Indigenous American artists, when they have no tribal enrollment or heritage, announced U.S. Legal professional Nick Brown. The adult males, 52-year-outdated Lewis Anthony Rath, of Maple Falls, Washington, and 67-calendar year-aged Jerry Chris Van Dyke aka Jerry Witten, of Seattle, both equally pleaded guilty now and will be sentenced on May well 17, 2023.

“When non-Native artists falsely claim Indian heritage, they can just take sales away from genuine Indian artists functioning to assistance on their own with competencies and approaches handed down for generations,” explained U.S. Lawyer Nick Brown. “Stores and galleries need to spouse with artists to guarantee people artisans and craftsmen advertised as Indian Artists actually have tribal standing.”

The investigation of Jerry Van Dyke started in February 2019, when the Indian Arts and Crafts Board acquired a criticism that Van Dyke was representing himself as a Nez Perce Indian Artist, when in point, he is not an enrolled tribal member. Investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Company produced undercover purchases at a gallery in the Pike Put Industry spot of Seattle that marketed pendants Van Dyke experienced made as Indigenous American

artwork. Van Dyke utilised the title Witten for these income. When interviewed by agents, Van Dyke admitted figuring out about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, and admitted he was not a tribal member. Through the gallery Van Dyke had bought much more than $1,000 worth of carved pendants represented as Indigenous American artwork based mostly on Aleut masks. According to the plea agreement, Van Dyke had worked with the gallery for much more than ten several years, with the gallery operator providing him with woolly mammoth ivory, antlers, animal bones and fossilized walrus ivory to make the pendants that it offered.

Van Dyke pleaded guilty to Misrepresentation of Indian Made Goods and Merchandise. The crime is punishable by up to a single year in jail.

The investigation of Anthony Rath started in Could 2019, after a criticism to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. The investigation unveiled that Rath falsely represented himself to be a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Undercover agents acquired a carved totem pole and necklace from the identical Pike Position Sector gallery for far more than $1,334. Agents noticed the gallery experienced other carvings by Rath that were represented as Native created. At another store on the Seattle waterfront brokers procured

one more carved totem pole and a mask, again represented to be Indian generated. The biography of the artist at both of those shops falsely claimed that Rath was Indigenous American. Internet web pages Rath made use of to offer 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 house and studio, they observed he also possessed feathers from shielded birds: golden eagles and other migratory birds such as hawks, jays, owls and more. Rath is forfeiting all those feathers to the govt.

Rath pleaded guilty to Misrepresentation of Indian Produced Products and Solutions, Illegal Possession of Golden Eagle Elements and Unlawful Possession of Migratory Chook Components. Misrepresentation of Indian Created Goods and Products and Illegal Possession of Golden Eagle Components are punishable by up to one year in jail, when Illegal Possession of Migratory Bird Sections is punishable by up to 6 months in prison.

“The Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB) is pretty pleased that Jerry Chris Van Dyke and Anthony Rath have been brought to justice for their roles in promoting faux Indian artwork in violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act,” mentioned U.S Section of the Inside IACB Director Meridith Stanton. The IACB is responsible 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 industry of fakes like all those staying marketed by defendants Van Dyke and Rath. “Cases like these are significant to preserving the integrity and viability of genuine Native American artwork and craftwork in typical, as well as preserving the prosperous cultural heritage of the Nez Perce Tribe and the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the financial livelihoods of their artists and craftspeople,” Director Stanton extra. “The IACB applauds the diligent perform of the U.S. Attorney’s Business office-Western District of Washington and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service IACA Enforcement Unit in investigating and prosecuting these essential instances.” 

“Protecting Indigenous American lifestyle and traditions is a critical aspect of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act,” mentioned Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Assistance Business office of Regulation Enforcement. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s dedicated staff of special brokers work on behalf of the U.S. Section of the Interior and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to uphold the rule of legislation and make sure that individuals who pick to misrepresent the marketing of Indian arts and crafts products are brought to justice. Lewis Anthony Rath and Jerry Van Dyke took advantage of Native American artists and U.S. people for private and economical acquire and must be held accountable for their steps.” 

Underneath the terms of the plea agreement Van Dyke and prosecutors will both equally suggest no prison time period. Having said that, the top sentence is up to U.S. District Judge Tana Lin.

There is no agreed sentencing suggestion for Rath.

The conditions are being investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Company. The conditions are becoming prosecuted by Assistant United States Lawyer and Tribal Liaison J. Tate London.