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Statement Of Senator John McCain On Introduction Of The Indian Arts And Crafts Act Amendments

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, I am pleased to be joined by my colleague, Senator Kyl, in introducing a bill to amend the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. This legislation would improve federal laws that protect the integrity and originality of Native American arts and crafts.

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act prohibits the misrepresentation in marketing of Indian arts and crafts products, and makes it illegal to display or sell works in a manner that falsely suggests it's the product of an individual Indian or Indian Tribe. Unfortunately, the law is written so that only the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), acting on behalf of the Attorney General, can investigate and make arrests in cases of suspected Indian art counterfeiters. The bill we are introducing would amend the law to expand existing Federal investigative authority by authorizing other Federal investigative bodies, such as the BIA Office of Law Enforcement, in addition to the FBI, to investigate cases of misrepresentation of Indian arts and crafts. This bill is similar to provisions included in S. 1255, which passed the Senate last Congress but wasn't acted on by the House, and the Native American Omnibus Technical Corrections Act of 2007, S. 2087.

A major source of tribal and individual Indian income is derived from the sale of handmade Indian arts and crafts. Yet, millions of dollars are diverted each year from these original artists and Indian tribes by those who reproduce and sell counterfeit Indian goods. Few, if any, criminal prosecutions have been brought in Federal court for such violations. It is understandable that enforcing the criminal law under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act is often stalled by the other responsibilities of the FBI including investigating terrorism activity and violent crimes in Indian country. Therefore, expanding the investigative authority to include other Federal agencies is intended to promote the active investigation of alleged misconduct. It is my hope that this much needed change will deter those who choose to violate the law.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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