In art, they say that talent borrows and genius steals. Either way, American Indian artisans are getting pushed out of their own market, according to the Wall Street Journal. The numbers of imported knockoffs of American Indian designs are simply staggering and heartbreaking, since much of the imported work is intentionally passed off as the real thing:
The Indian Arts and Crafts Association, a trade group, estimates that nationally, as much as 75% of the roughly $1 billion of jewelry, pottery, rugs and other merchandise sold every year as authentic is not. In the jewelry business, as many as 90% of pieces held out as examples of Native American craftsmanship are fake, according to the New Mexico attorney general’s consumer-protection division, which is trying to police the trade along with federal authorities.
But it is extremely hard to tell the genuine goods from the faux artifacts, artists and experts say.
Some of the imported jewelry is exquisite, studded with real gems and painstakingly crafted — only, it is made by Chinese or Thai or Filipino workers abroad, not by Native American artisans. Other pieces are mass-produced with polished bits of plastic that look uncannily like real jewels.
See the Journal’s article for a list of tips on how to spot authentic Indian works of art.
Cheap Jewelry Imports Vex Artisans in Southwest (Wall Street Journal)