Two Western Washington artists billed with misrepresenting them selves as Native American carvers | USAO-WDWA

Seattle – In two separate criminal scenarios, Western Washington artists are charged with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by symbolizing by themselves as Native American artists, when they have no tribal membership or heritage, declared U.S. Legal professional Nick Brown.  The adult men, 52-12 months-previous Lewis Anthony Rath, of Maple Falls, Washington, and 67-12 months-old Jerry Chris Van Dyke aka Jerry Witten, of Seattle, will make their original overall look on the problems in U.S. District Court in Seattle at 2:00 PM these days.

“Our particular brokers look into crimes that violate the Indian Arts and Crafts Act on behalf of the U.S. Division of the Interior and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board,” mentioned Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Place of work of Legislation Enforcement. “By flooding the market with counterfeit Indigenous American artwork and craftwork, these crimes cheat the shopper, undermine the financial livelihood of Native American artists, and impairs Indian lifestyle. We thank the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and the U.S. Department of Justice for their assistance with these investigations.”

The investigation of Jerry Van Dyke began in February 2019, when the Indian Arts and Crafts Board received a complaint that Van Dyke was representing himself as a Nez Perce Indian Artist, when in fact, he is not an enrolled tribal member.  Investigators from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Support made undercover buys at a gallery in the Pike Spot Industry spot of Seattle that marketed pendants Van Dyke had created as Indigenous American Artwork.  Van Dyke utilized the name Witten for these revenue.  When interviewed by agents, Van Dyke admitted realizing about the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, and admitted he was not a tribal member.  By the gallery Van Dyke had bought extra than $1,000 worthy of of carved pendants represented as Native American artwork based on Aleut masks.

Van Dyke is billed with two counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Generated Goods and Products,

The investigation of Anthony Rath began in May perhaps 2019, following a grievance to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.  The investigation discovered that Rath falsely represented himself to be a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.   Undercover agents bought a carved totem pole and necklace from the exact Pike Spot Current market gallery for far more than $1,334.  Agents seen the gallery had other carvings by Rath that had been represented as Native produced.  At a different store on the Seattle waterfront brokers obtained one more carved totem pole and a mask, once more represented to be Indian produced.  The biography of the artist at both retailers falsely claimed that Rath was Native American.  World-wide-web web-sites Rath employed to market his artwork also falsely assert he is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

When agents executed a research warrant on Rath’s Whatcom County house and studio, they uncovered he also possessed feathers from safeguarded birds: golden eagles and other migratory birds these types of as hawks, jays, owls and extra. 

Rath is billed with four counts of Misrepresentation of Indian Developed Products and Items, 1 misdemeanor count of Unlawful Possession of Golden Eagles Components and a person misdemeanor count of Unlawful Possession of Migratory Chicken Elements.

Misrepresentation of Indian Developed Products and Products and solutions is punishable by up to 5 yrs in jail.  The misdemeanor counts related to hen pieces are punishable by up to 1 12 months in jail.

The expenses contained in the grievances are only allegations.  A particular person is presumed innocent unless and till he or she is verified responsible outside of a fair question in a court docket of regulation.

The scenarios are getting investigated by the Nationwide Fish and Wildlife Provider.  The conditions are staying prosecuted by Assistant United States Legal professional J. Tate London.