I Was Fooled, Were You??


Well, it has been just over a year that Rainbow Walker Music has been online. During that time we have made many new friends around the world. We have delivered orders to all parts of the US and Canada, as well as to Japan, France and even the Czech Republic! People all over the world want to learn and enjoy more of our rich culture through Music. Even though I am now a Native businessman, I still feel honored to share with so many the wonderful songs and music of our People. I was taught by my mother and father to honor our musicians and the Gifts they carry from the Holy People to enrich the generations. It was one of my life-long dreams to be in business helping to spread our Music over the world, and here I am.

Today, I loaded the first of many more soundbites to come for people to download and preview. What an exciting day! I remember when I first dreamed of this moment...could I do it? Would it be too hard to learn all of this computer stuff? And now the samples are up!!! Yay!!!

Sadly, I spent the rest of the morning taking titles off my catalog that were not done by Native persons. Many of these artists had fooled me over the years with their native sounding names and musical talents. I have devoted my site to the promotion and sale of only Native artists, and I have been fooled! I have studied Native music for over 22 years as a singer, and carrier of songs, and I was still fooled. How many others who have wanted to buy a product, thinking it was an authentic Native recording were duped? Hundreds, no thousands! And many of these non-native musicians are making big bucks off the contemporary interest in Native music. I don't like it, and I think it is fraudulent. I propose:

1. All non-native performed recordings be labeled "NATIVE INFLUENCED or NATIVE INSPIRED" I could live with that, I might even set up a page to that effect someday. It would be less confusing to me.

2. OR, non-native musicians let people publically know their ethnic background so there is no mistake.

3. Finally, I suggest that all Native musicians put their tribal identity on their releases.

Why? I think the large majority of interested persons are seeking authentic Native music performed by or in collaboration with Native musicians. If I can be fooled by this, I know that many, many more non-natives buyers are being led off.

Also, there is much precedent for this. One is champagne, you can't bottle and sell champagne with a capital "C", unless it originates from that very region of France. It simply protects authenticity.

Two other examples within the interface of Native and non-native business, are jewelry and rugs. Many non-natives back in the 70's took to copying silver jewelry and selling it as authentic Indian made. They made big bucks! They were found out and laws were passed in the Southwest that basically said one could not put the tag, American Indian, or Native American on any jewelry that was not rightly done by such persons. People were buying copied jewelry and it was clearly seen as a ripoff.

Later, people began to import machine woven rugs from Mexico with copied Navajo Indian designs, they were wool, but not made by Navajos. Many non-native people bought them thinking they were genuine, maybe you have one on your wall right now that you paid 500 to 2000 dollars for! Again, this was clearly seen as a ripoff, since these imitation rugs were being sold at the same prices as the painstakingly handmade genuine items. The laws then were adjusted to deal with that issue.

Check out this link describing the "The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990" (P.L. 101-644)

    "The law is essentially a truth-in-advertising law designed to prevent products from being marketed as "Indian Made" when the products are not, in fact made by Indians as defined in the Act."

I see no difference here, and I will continue to do my best to make sure you are ordering authentic Native music here at Rainbow Walker. I have my working definition of what I mean by a Native person. For me it is anyone who can make a substantiative claim to North American aboriginal ancestory. North American simply due to the fact that those are the musical products I sell here at Rainbow Walker.

However, there are many excellent collaborations being produced that allow the Native Musician to influence the lyrical content, melodies and/or time structures and overall vision of the artistic work. Most of these have Native persons doing; co-writing, lead vocals, or as featured soloists or performers on the recordings. Some good examples of these are many of the Carlos Nakai recordings. These feature Carlos, who is Navajo/Ute, and other noted non-native musicians writing and performing together. I have no problem offering these types of recordings at my site.

Finally, I don't want the "native-influenced" musicians to stop making their music, much of it is great. You know, I kind of like the sound of that phrase, just might work. Most of the "native american" internet outlets I have come across seem to want to sell anything as long as it looks Native anyway, so there should be no problem for them to find outlets for their recordings.

Let's just make it easy for the buyer to know what they are getting. Much less, the supposedly knowledgeable Native business-persons such as myself. I just hope I don't have to spend too many more mornings removing titles from my catalog...


DECEMBER 5, 2003

Recent Development

Indian Arts and Crafts Board starts toll free number
Monday, December 1, 2003

Ed. Note: Please note that the number is 1-888-ART-FAKE.

Artists and consumers concerned about fake Indian arts and crafts have a new resource to tap.

The Indian Arts and Crafts Board, an agency of the Department of Interior, has set up a toll free number to handle inquiries and complaints. People can call 1-888-ART-FAKE, or 1-888-278-3253, to obtain more information or discuss and file complaints about fake goods.

Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, first passed in 1990 and amended in 2000, it is illegal to advertise, sell or market goods as "Indian" unless they were produced by a member of a state or federally recognized tribe or a certified Indian artist.

Relevant Links:
The Indian Arts and Crafts Board - http://www.doi.gov/iacb



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