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

Seattle – In two individual felony scenarios, Western Washington artists pleaded guilty now to violations of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (IACA) by representing themselves as Native American artists, when they have no tribal enrollment or heritage, introduced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. The adult men, 52-yr-outdated Lewis Anthony Rath, of Maple Falls, Washington, and 67-12 months-old Jerry Chris Van Dyke aka Jerry Witten, of Seattle, each pleaded guilty nowadays and will be sentenced on May possibly 17, 2023.

“When non-Native artists falsely claim Indian heritage, they can acquire profits absent from genuine Indian artists working to support by themselves with techniques and techniques handed down for generations,” mentioned U.S. Lawyer Nick Brown. “Stores and galleries need to have to associate with artists to guarantee those artisans and craftsmen marketed as Indian Artists truly have tribal standing.”

The investigation of Jerry Van Dyke started in February 2019, when the Indian Arts and Crafts Board gained a criticism 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 Services manufactured undercover buys at a gallery in the Pike Position Sector space of Seattle that advertised pendants Van Dyke had made as Indigenous American

artwork. Van Dyke made use of the title Witten for these product sales. When interviewed by brokers, 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 experienced marketed much more than $1,000 worthy of of carved pendants represented as Native American artwork primarily based on Aleut masks. In accordance to the plea settlement, Van Dyke had worked with the gallery for additional than 10 yrs, with the gallery proprietor delivering him with woolly mammoth ivory, antlers, animal bones and fossilized walrus ivory to make the pendants that it offered.

Van Dyke pleaded responsible to Misrepresentation of Indian Produced Items and Products. The criminal offense is punishable by up to a person yr in jail.

The investigation of Anthony Rath commenced in May 2019, immediately after a criticism to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. The investigation uncovered that Rath falsely represented himself to be a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. Undercover brokers purchased a carved totem pole and necklace from the very same Pike Location Current market gallery for a lot more than $1,334. Agents recognized the gallery had other carvings by Rath that were being represented as Indigenous generated. At another shop on the Seattle waterfront agents bought

yet another carved totem pole and a mask, yet again represented to be Indian produced. The biography of the artist at equally stores falsely claimed that Rath was Indigenous American. Internet web-sites Rath used to sell his artwork also falsely assert he is an enrolled member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe.

When brokers executed a look for warrant on Rath’s Whatcom County home and studio, they located he also possessed feathers from guarded birds: golden eagles and other migratory birds these types of as hawks, jays, owls and additional. Rath is forfeiting all these feathers to the government.

Rath pleaded responsible to Misrepresentation of Indian Made Goods and Products, Unlawful Possession of Golden Eagle Sections and Illegal Possession of Migratory Chicken Areas. Misrepresentation of Indian Generated Products and Products and solutions and Unlawful Possession of Golden Eagle Areas are punishable by up to 1 year in jail, although 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,” reported U.S Department of the Interior 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 market of fakes like people being marketed by defendants Van Dyke and Rath. “Cases like these are critical to preserving the integrity and viability of authentic Native American artwork and craftwork in standard, as properly as preserving the prosperous cultural heritage of the Nez Perce Tribe and the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the economic livelihoods of their artists and craftspeople,” Director Stanton additional. “The IACB applauds the diligent do the job of the U.S. Attorney’s Place of work-Western District of Washington and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Provider IACA Enforcement Device in investigating and prosecuting these crucial circumstances.” 

“Protecting Indigenous American society and traditions is a vital part of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act,” said Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Company Office environment of Law Enforcement. “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s focused workforce of exclusive agents perform on behalf of the U.S. Division of the Inside and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board to uphold the rule of legislation and be certain that these who pick to misrepresent the advertising of Indian arts and crafts products are introduced to justice. Lewis Anthony Rath and Jerry Van Dyke took benefit of Indigenous American artists and U.S. people for personalized and economic attain and must be held accountable for their steps.” 

Beneath the conditions of the plea settlement Van Dyke and prosecutors will both equally suggest no jail phrase. Even so, the best sentence is up to U.S. District Choose Tana Lin.

There is no agreed sentencing advice for Rath.

The cases are remaining investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The scenarios are getting prosecuted by Assistant United States Legal professional and Tribal Liaison J. Tate London.