Certain aspects of Native American art are ancient in their design and are linked directly to age-old religious practices or cultural beliefs. Several cities, especially in the western United States have a Native American art gallery or museum located nearby for patrons to browse and even purchase various pieces of artwork. Some types of Native American art are even considered highly collectible.

Native American art ranges from hand woven baskets and blankets to jewelry accented with turquoise, wampum belts and paintings. Due to the highly collectible value of genuine Native American art, many dealers misrepresent their merchandise as being Native American made when it is not. While this is not general practice, it is not uncommon and the buyer must beware.

To help protect the artisans and the consumers, Congress passed the Indian Arts and Crafts Law of 1935 and 1990, which prohibits manufacturers and individual artisans from claiming a piece of art is Native American when it is not actually crafted by a recognized Indian. Any Native American art gallery selling imitation artwork or misrepresenting its wares as Native American art should be reported to their local better business bureau for further investigation.

Consumers interested in Native American art can find a number of sources to purchase it. If there is no Native American art gallery nearby and no reservation to visit, consumers are able to locate items online. Yosemite Native American Art Gallery is an example of numerous sources for online browsing. It is the online version of the actual Sisochi Gallery, which routinely solicits wares from Native American artisans with the intention of supporting their ancient expressions of customs.

Looking beyond the handcrafted beauty of Native American arts and crafts, collectors can find that many items and paintings represent ancient customs of the people who craft them. Owning a piece of Native American art is like owning something that represents history. Even those who do not wish to visit a Native American art gallery for purchasing can find browsing intriguing. There are also several museums that contain art and artifacts that represent the Native American craft.

Of particular interest is the Smithsonian’s American Indian Art and Design display of sketches that so powerfully demonstrate the artists’ remarkable powers of observation. Many Indian reservations across the country also display modern works that still represent age-old traditions. Visitors can browse and make purchases, which help support individual and tribal ways of life.

Whether you are a novice collector just beginning to develop an interest in Native American art or are a long-time collector, it’s well worth the time to hunt down a genuine Native American art gallery or merchandiser. Many pieces with the power to move and intrigue the spirit are waiting undiscovered. For the novice collector, remember to verify from several sources that a retailer is in fact not misrepresenting the wares they sell. This practice not only hurts the artisans, it devalues your purchase.

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