Making sure that the Northern Native American Indian Art, Crafts, Artifacts & Silverwork you purchase for your personal use or collection can be a difficult task. Unscrupulous dealers often pass foreign, or non-Indian, items off as authentic Native American goods, leaving you, the consumer holding little more than costume jewelry and worthless imitations.
Current laws require that ANY items sold as “Authentic Native American Made” or “Indian Made” must be the creation of an individual belonging to, or registered as an Indian artisan with, a state or federally recognized tribe. A scrupulous dealer will provide the consumer with appropriate certification documentation upon request.
Know your dealer. If they cannot, or will not provide adequate certification of items purchased, this should raise a serious red flag for the consumer! Your dealer should be willing to provide a guarantee of authenticity, as well as be available to answer any questions or complaints, should they arise. Be sure to get a receipt that contains all information pertinent to your item
Artisans, themselves, help to insure the process of authenticity as they craft their products. Silver and jewelry smiths generally utilize a personal “hallmark” (stamped symbol or signature) to identify their wares. If the dealer claims the item is Sterling, be sure the item is marked as such. Stones used should be natural (as opposed to dyed), uniform in size, well cut, and settings secure.
With pottery, stone, wood, or metal items, the artist will usually engrave their hallmark or signature into the bottom or base of the item. Sometimes, especially with pottery, the artist will sign with an indelible (waterproof) marker.
Handmade Native goods are often expensive. If you feel like the “deal” you are getting is “too good to be true” for authentic goods - listen to your gut feeling! Unless you know your dealer well and have a special arrangement worked out and maybe even then, if it seems too cheap to be real, it probably is!