Late last year, a celebrated Alaska Native artist was cited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act after he offered for sale traditional native artwork that included certain bird feathers. The artist, who unknowingly violated the law, agreed to pay a fine to avoid possible jail time.
In response to this incident, Alaskan Congressman Don Young has introduced, H.R. 3109, a carefully crafted bill that would amend the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to allow for the sale of Alaska Native artwork that contains non-edible migratory bird parts.
"This legislation is a straightforward fix to this unfortunate incident, and is consistent with considerations provided for in other laws related to species that play an important role in the culture and tradition of Alaska Natives," Rep. Young said. "This bill will help ensure that what happened to revered Tlingit carver Archie Cavanaugh, never happens again."
"I applaud Congressman Young for his efforts in introducing this much needed legislative fix," said Rosita Worl, President of the Sealaska Heritage Institute. "Artists such as Archie have been making their artwork for ceremonial, for trade and for sale with others for thousands of years. Today, arts and crafts sales are often the only way economically depressed villages can earn an income, and H.R. 3109 will allow them to continue to do so."
This legislation comes at the request of multiple Alaskan Native organizations, including the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Sealaska Heritage Institute, and has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee.