Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990

On November 29 , 1990, "The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990" (P.L. 101-644) was signed to promote and protect domestic American Indian artist and craftspersons by providing meaningful deterrents to those who misrepresent their products. This act is a truth-in-advertising law that is designed to prevent products from being marketed as "Indian made" when the products are not, in fact, made by Indians as defined in the Act. To be considered an Indian Artist, the individual artist or craftsperson must be a member of an Indian Tribe, or must be certified as an Indian Artisan by an Indian Tribe. The law states in part:

"It is unlawful to offer or display for sale or sell any good, with or without a Government trademark, in a manner that falsely suggest it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States." For the purposes of this act, "Indian tribe" is defined as:

  • A Federally Recognized Indian Tribe, or
  • A Federally Recognized Native Entity of Alaska, or
  • A State Recognized Tribe

It is a criminal offense for someone knowingly to violate this law. For a first criminal offense, an individual is fined not more than $250,000 and/or jailed not more than 5 years; subsequent violations are not more than $1,000,000 and/or 15 years. A corporation is fined not more than $1,000,000 for a first offense; for subsequent violations a corporation is fined not more than $5,000,000.