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Old 08-25-2007, 09:44 AM
Enchanted Enchanted is offline
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Controversial "Native American" Arts

Rather than hijack MKathleen's "Kachina" thread, I thought it more appropriate to continue the discussion of "authenticity of Native American arts" in a new thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barbara Art
The bottom line seems to be whether the image is respected or disrespected. Adventurous country!
Barbara

I know of other artists in the SW who make "their own" Kachina dolls. The question arises as to whether they are copying "authentic Indian made" imagery or inventing their own. In either case, I don't think there is a law preventing it as long as someone doesn't claim to be American Indian - thereby imparting fraudalent "authenticity" to the work. I've seen many pieces labeled "Made in China" as an example. "Wind Catchers" seem to be a popular replicated item. I've even received small Wind Catchers in mail solicitations for various American Indian charities - and the label on them says "Made in China."

As an excellent example of how a small group of people can do huge damage to an art project, consider the case of John Houser's gigantic sculpture of Don Juan Oņate - recently installed and dedicated at the airport in El Pasol, Texas.

As Houser originally conceived his project, it was to include a larger number of monumental bronzes depicting the "Twelve Travelers." These were people instrumental in colonizing and settling the SW USA beginning with the Spanish conquistadors. Houser completed and installed the first bronze, of a Spanish monk or priest, some years ago in downtown El Paso, without arousing much controversy.

The Don Juan statue was initially to be installed at a Rio Grande border crossing point between the USA and Mexico. But a small minority of activists caused that plan to be changed. And not only that, the name of the statue has been changed so that it now represents a "generic" conquistador rather than a specific individual. The change of siting to the El Paso airport was done in hopes it would minimize the risk that the sculpture would suffer future vandalism.

Further information on Don Juan Oņate and problems with damages to his images in SW settings can be found in this Wikipedia article.


Last edited by Enchanted : 08-25-2007 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 08-25-2007, 11:10 AM
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Diane Cutter Diane Cutter is offline
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Re: Controversial "Native American" Arts

We had a similar subject come up over in the Internet Sales Strategies forum, which you took part in, too, Enchanted... ('OK OK ... It isn't a Monet'). The interesting related part starts at posts #5 and #6 and on.

To my reading of this, how the artist represents their work and themselves is the important factor. For example, I do a lot of work with Caribbean Taino Indian and Central American Mayan designs. However I am very clear to say that I am not a Taino and am very respectful toward these images. As you say...
Quote:
... I know of other artists in the SW who make "their own" Kachina dolls. The question arises as to whether they are copying "authentic Indian made" imagery or inventing their own. In either case, I don't think there is a law preventing it as long as someone doesn't claim to be American Indian - thereby imparting fraudalent "authenticity" to the work.

The key is how the art is represented by the artist.

Who, over a certain age, doesn't remember going to 'trading posts' along Route 66 and getting native American tourist items, only to notice upon closer inspection the tiny 'made in Japan' sticker. (Now, it seems, the Chinese have filled the 'tourist trap' void.)

Diane
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Old 08-25-2007, 01:52 PM
Barbara Art Barbara Art is offline
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Re: Controversial "Native American" Arts

Diane, those made-in-Japan tourist items were everywhere; we even had little "Indian" drums in New England!
Thanks, Enchanted, for starting the new thread. Also for all your info on the Houser statue, which is giving me ideas for a print. A rhetorical question: is a "generic" conquistador (conqueror) better than a specific one? I know that the world was different back then and all people were not deemed to be created equal, but, Jeez! The statue itself is just going to give testosterone a bad name.
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Old 08-25-2007, 02:46 PM
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sassybird sassybird is offline
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Re: Controversial "Native American" Arts

Thank you for starting a new thread. I am the grandaughter of a full blood Choctaw, but I do not consider my self Indian. I have much more Dutch, Irish and English in me than Indian. I was told the stories as a child and have made use of sweat lodges, but that is as far as my participation went. Since becoming an adult I have found a great love of Indian art and have used images that I have shot myself as reference. I have told the people why I want a picture of them and no one has ever said no to me. Kachinas are a religious symbol of the Hopi, one that is appriciated by many non Indians. IF they had a problem with their work being used as inspiritation for other works of art then I am sure they would make the problem known. As long as people are not saying that their work is made by a Hopi then there is no controversary.
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Old 08-25-2007, 07:05 PM
Enchanted Enchanted is offline
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Re: Controversial "Native American" Arts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Diane Cutter
We had a similar subject come up over in the Internet Sales Strategies forum, which you took part in, too, Enchanted... ('OK OK ... It isn't a Monet'). The interesting related part starts at posts #5 and #6 and on.
Diane
Thanks Diane. I tried to recall where the discussion was recently held and my memory failed me.

Here is a reference to what the law has to say on the subject. Notice that a store cannot advertise "Indian Art" if the art work being sold inside isn't attributed to legal tribal members. The problem with this, and all other such laws in the USA is enforcement. There simply isn't any in most cases. As the article on the web site says, it's up to the individual who claims damages to bring action through the usual legal channels open to anyone who feels they have been defrauded.

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Old 08-25-2007, 10:30 PM
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objectivistartist objectivistartist is online now
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Re: Controversial "Native American" Arts

On the other hand, isn't advertising "Indian" Art quite legal???
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