Alaskan Native art is the arts and crafts made by the native people of Alaska.  Various scams have been perpetrated in the sale of these items. Very often, consumers do not take the time to inform themselves of what they are buying before they purchase what they think is Alaskan Native Art. 

How Can I Identify Authentic Alaskan Native Art?

The law states that items made after 1935 that are marketed as "Indian," "Alaska Native," or "Native American," must have been made by a recognized tribe or a certified native artisan. To become a certified native artisan, individuals are certified by their tribe’s governing body as a non-member artisan. When the seller uses terms like "heritage," "ancestry," and "descent" in connection with "Alaskan Native," the craftsperson is not necessarily a member of an native tribe or even certified by the tribe. However, they must still be honestly used.

What Can I Do to Avoid a Scam?

Alaskan Native art is sold in a number of venues.  If you want to make sure you are getting what you pay for: 

  • You should ask for a certification tag.  Some authentic items will carry a tag with a symbol on it. These symbols, such as a Silver Hand symbol or a Made in Alaska emblem, can assure you that the item is authentic.
  • Get any claims that the seller makes about the item’s authenticity in writing.
  • Make sure you get a receipt for your items.

How Can I Tell the Difference between Authentic and Fake Alaskan Native Art?

There are certain things that you can look for when determining whether the item is fake or authentic. 

  • Materials : Walrus ivory, bone, argillite, animal furs, soapstone, baleen, and other marine mammal materials are common materials used by Alaskan Native artisans.
  • Price : Authentic items can be expensive if they are of high quality craftsmanship.
  • Appearance : If you can, examine the item by picking it up.  For example, make sure you are buying stone and not plastic. 

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Am a Victim of an Alaskan Native Art Scam?

If you have lost a substantial amount of money to an Alaskan Native Art scam, you may wish to contact an experienced criminal lawyer. An attorney can help you recover damages for your loss.