What Indian Country Needs to know About Updates to the Indian Arts and Crafts Act

Background from the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative: 

The Indian Arts and Crafts Act (“the IACA”) was first passed by Congress in 1935 and functions as a “truth-in-advertising” law. In the most general terms, the IACA makes it unlawful for anyone to falsely sell or market an “Indian product” as one that is Native-made.¹ The IACA imposes both criminal and civil penalties on violators, including fines and imprisonment of varying amounts and lengths of time, depending on the nature of the violation and the overall value of the goods at hand. 

Congress delegated regulatory authority for this Act to the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), and BIA’s existing regulations carrying out the IACA provide a definition of “Indian product” in its simplest form as “an art or craft product made by Indian.” 

The BIA recently announced that the agency would be revising the regulations carrying out the IACA. Among the many amendments proposed in BIA’s draft is a significant change in the way “Indian product” is defined, one that would bring regulation of agricultural products under the umbrella of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act for the first time in the Act’s 88-year history.

Photo by Emre on Unsplash.

Why this matters: 

  • Indian Country producers, gatherers, food business owners and more are impacted by new revisions to IACA.
  • BIA could do more harm than good to Native agriculture by not defining clearly what is or isn’t a “Native Product”. 
  • BIA is asking if Native Hawaiian Organizations be included in the definition of “Indian Tribe” for purposes of regulations implementing the Indian Arts and Crafts Act?

In response to the revision of IACA, NDN Collective is urging Tribal Leaders, Native Artists and Native Food Business Owners to submit input and comments to the updates and changes in the IACA. 

Below are resources to help you craft your comment/letter: 

  1. Indian Arts and Crafts Board (25 CFR Chapter II) page on 
  2. Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative’s analysis of the proposed regulatory changes
  3. Use this draft comment template
  4. Please submit comments to by 11:59 pm ET on Friday, September 1, 2023.