Judge rules Oklahoma Native American art law too restrictive

The Associated Press and The Oklahoman - April 1, 2019 11:13 am

Peggy Fontenot, photographer, artist and a member of the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia, is shown with her display in the 2017 Red Earth Festival at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. She successfully challenged Oklahoma law limiting the marketing of American Indian art to artists who are members of federally recognized tribes. [Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman]

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A federal judge has struck down an Oklahoma law that requires an artist to be a member of a federally recognized tribe in order to have their artwork labeled as Native American.

The Oklahoman reports that U.S. District Judge Charles Goodwin ruled Thursday that the Oklahoma Indian Arts and Crafts Sales Act violates the U.S. Constitution because it gives a more narrow definition of Native American than federal law.

Goodwin says federal law allows art to be marketed as Native American even if the tribe is only recognized at the state level. He says Oklahoma’s law is in conflict with the federal law, even though both seek to protect and promote Native American artists.

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office had defended the state law. A spokesman says the office is reviewing the decision.

 

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