Friday, December 20, 2013

Crossing the other Delaware: a personal view of Christmas

Reprinting, with permission, an article from the Florida Weekly Not directly pertinant to Tribal Art, but a worthy read anyway.

In the American cultural vernacular, which may prove as confusing to you as it frequently does to me, the first Christmas did not occur 2,013 years ago.
Instead, the first Christmas took place exactly 237 years ago on a frigid night a few miles north of Philadelphia.
In this whimsical, transformative nation, holidays that began as one thing inevitably become another, and none more so than Christmas.
During the evening of Dec. 25, 1776, Christmas Love (defined as the love of Christ come, for Christians) must have seemed as remote as the North Pole to the 2,400 men who crossed the Delaware River out of Pennsylvania. They moved out in sleet and snow equipped with newly issued flints for their weapons on George Washington’s command, gathering on the riverfront from positions near McKonkey’s Ferry.
At that point the self-declared United States of America — where you and I will eat to our heart’s content this Christmas — amounted to 174 days worth of upstart nation. Brand new, the nation was also under siege, wrapped in a winter storm, and starving.
Most of Washington’s men couldn’t swim, but they swallowed their fear. Ice floes in the river presented a significant danger to their heavily-laden boats as they labored in frigid darkness toward the Jersey shore.
None of it was pretty. In sloppy, struggling fashion, commanders and a regiment of experienced seamen from Marblehead, Mass., with others, finally landed the force mostly intact at Trenton, on the east bank of the river.
There, things changed forever. That fact remains the nation’s most singular Christmas gift to itself.
The Americans caught the winter-encamped Hessian troops (competent professional soldiers in the pay of the British army) completely off guard and drunk. Thus they won the first real victory in our history, at the end of what had been a very bad year.
Had Washington been killed or captured — a distinct possibility since he was among the first to land on the far shore — history would have gone barking up a different tree.
It almost did, anyway. Previously, his men had succeeded only in having their rear ends kicked out of New York and chased all over New Jersey by the British and their allies.
But only six days before Christmas, Thomas Paine came out with a feisty pamphlet called “Common Sense,” in Philadelphia. It included the most famous lines he ever wrote. The language was so compelling that against all reason it boosted morale among the half-frozen, half-sick, woefully undernourished Americans.
“These are the times that try men’s souls,” Mr. Paine wrote. “The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
No doubt many would have settled for an easier conflict and reduced rations of glory along with a hot meal, but they weren’t given the choice.
For all those Americans, including women, children and the old people left to manage farms and homes, Christmas Love required sacrifice and the recognition of imminent mortality.
To all of them, everything must have seemed tenuous.
I’ve always thought of Christmas that way, too — as a time when existence can become, paradoxically, both sumptuous and desperate.
In such a time, each of us must cross our own Delaware, which means that each of us must define Christmas Love as any force or energy that allows us to make the crossing, no matter how tenuously or what shape it takes.
If, for example, you haven’t spoken to a relative or an old friend with whom you’ve fallen out, you’re facing the river.
If you haven’t forgiven yourself for a mistake made in another time — which means confronting your own weakness or blindness, and moving on — you’re facing the river.
If the echoes of the dead or the memories of Christmases past become not the voices of angels but a chorus of tyrants beckoning you to surrender the joyous moment in order to suffer the once-upon-a-time, you’re facing the river.
Charles Dickens, the great British novelist, knew the music of this tune intimately, which was why he wrote “A Christmas Carol.”
In any case, something has to be faced and changed. And you have to face it and change it. Christmas is a time to do that, just as it was for Washington and the men, women and children who faced his Delaware River.
For somebody I never knew, here’s one more Delaware. Late on Dec. 24, 1976, I drove out of the gates of Camp Lejeune, N.C., home of the Second Marine Division, bound toward Wilmington 50 or so miles to the south. I was bent on attending midnight Mass at an orthodox church.
The narrow two-lane blacktop ribboned a North Carolina night so black in the flat piedmont that I could see nothing beyond my own headlights for miles, until a flashing of red and blue came distantly into view.
I slowed, approached and passed. Two cars had collided head on. The bodies of five dead lay under sheets near the devastated wreckage. Midnight was 90 minutes away.
At the church, a packed Christmas celebration of such candlelit, incense-infused magnificence occurred — with chanting, bells, the sprinkling of holy water and all the sensuous ornamentation of celebratory life — that I’ve never been able to forget either the blood or the glory.
And now it’s only Christmas Love I want for them: for those nameless souls who may still cherish the victims of that long ago night. May they, with all of us, find it in themselves to cross the other Delaware. ¦
— A version of this column originally ran on Dec. 21, 2011.

Monday, December 16, 2013

In tribal art, what is the value of good service?

Sue and I were talking this morning about the number of really satisfying feedback comments we get. I use the term “satisfying” because that's what they are. When you receive good service from us, not only does it benefit you, it also benefits us. There is something positively rewarding about hearing from people who feel they had a good experience with us.

So, we work very diligently to provide response-worthy service. Sometimes we mess up. After all, unlike the big companies, we are human. Two human beings who select items for resale that we would be happy to own ourselves if no one buys them. (Once, we tried to buy for the “market”. We bought some things we weren't crazy about but thought others would like. We were wrong. And disappointed. It was a lesson re-learned every time we looked at something we were not that fond of. From then on, we vowed to buy only items that pleased us. That way, if they are not sold, we have the pleasure of enjoying them ourselves.)

But I have digressed somewhat from the subject of good service and its value. 

The point is, when we treat people the way we would like to be treated, it has intrinsic value for us. We feel good about doing it. We hope you do too. And when you tell us about it, we are thrilled.

Which brings me to the other component of value, price. We price our items at a level that provides us with a modest amount of income to cover our risk, expense and a few dollars for groceries. Since we buy at wholesale, the price to our buyer is seldom any more than what the buyer would pay directly to the maker – if they could get that opportunity.

Still we get buyers who ask, “Is that they best you can do?” We are not offended. We understand that value is set by the buyer. If the asking price is higher than the buyer thinks the item is worth, we would rather have her ask for a discount that balances the value equation for her than walk away without something that she valued enough to ask about in the first place. If we have any room to bargain, we will.

What bothers us is other re-sellers who are constantly in “sale mode”. They price an item at more than it's worth and then put it “on sale” at a price that is its actual worth. Who are they fooling? Do they think so little of their customers' intelligence that they believe you don't know what they are doing? Incidentally, these people are often the same as those who subtly mislead in their descriptions of the items. On headlined “Native American art”, they include numerous items described as “Southwestern-style” without specifically saying that they are NOT made by indigenous Native American Indians.

All these elements constitute “good service” : quality merchandise, honestly presented, guaranteed authentic with satisfaction guaranteed, properly packed, promptly shipped and willingly tracked in the event of delivery problems.

This becomes even more important at this time of year, when buyers want their purchases delivered in time for the holiday. As of today, the post office assures us that the deadline for shipping with that expectation is five days off. Of course, there are alternatives such as overnight shippers, at higher cost. And, if you are within 25 miles of South Fort Myers, we will personally deliver any purchase of $100 or more to your address, at no extra charge.

If you would like to receive e-alerts of our new items, sales (real one) or other news of tribal art happenings, sign up here.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all. And thanks for your attention. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sales Tax Across State Lines

If you are a person who buys art on line, you must be aware that your purchases are only subject to sales tax collection by the seller if the seller is in the same state as you. (Because the law says residents of one state can't be forced to collect another state's taxes)

Aside from that, imagine the burden on a seller if it was required to figure, collect and remit sales tax for every taxing jurisdiction in the country.

So if you live in New York and buy from us in Florida, we don't have to add New York tax to your bill. And, since you don't live in Florida, you don't have to pay Florida tax either.

But, that may be about to change as governors in states that think they are losing badly needed tax revenue are making noises about finding a way to make companies like ours pay taxes that the current law does not require.


Our advice is to move up any planned online purchase to beat the tax. If you are thinking of buying beautiful piece of Navajo or Zuni jewelry as a gift for someone for Christmas, best to do it now. Are you saving to acquire a long-admired Zuni fetish carving? Best to order it now. Same thing if you are a pottery collector thinking of getting piece of authentic Pueblo Pottery. For example, a Navajo wedding vase for an impending wedding or a pottery nativity scene for holiday decoration.


Smart people anticipate changes like this and get out in front of them. Of course, the current laws usually require that you, as a purchaser, are required to notify your state tax authority about your purchases and send them a tax payment. But that's between you and your state tax collector.

In the mean time, if you order from us in July, we will discount the purchase price equal to your state's current sales tax rate. Just let us know when you order. Thank you.

Happy Birthday to the Marine Corps and Thank You to the Navajo Code Talkers

Not enough people are aware of the contribution made to the US victory in the Pacific by the Navajo Code Talkers, represented here by this set of carvings by Navajo artist, Renzo Reed. 
Using their native language, which the Japanese did not understand, they were able to transmit coded messages about troop movements and Japanese garrisons. Thank you to all.

Additional Navajo folk art carvings are offered @ http://www.TribalWorks.com in the Native American Gallery.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The difference between handmade jewelry and hand craft work jewelry. 
Courtesy of Sam Manygoats 
Navajo handmade jewelry is different from hand craft work jewelry. George Francis, a master Native American silversmith, explains the difference between the two arts. Please support authentic Native American arts and subscribe to this channel as we will be releasing new informative Native American art videos every week.
Thanks for viewing this video, offered by http://www.Native-American-Jewelry.org.

Friday, July 26, 2013

August Events in Tribal Arts

August 2-4 - Albuquerque NM Great Southwestern Antiques Show at NM State Fairgounds 
505-255-4054

August 3-4 - Flagstaff, AZ 64th Annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture at Museum of Northern Arizona 
928-774-5213

August 7-11 - Red Rocks State Park, (Gallup, NM) 92nd Annual InterTribal Ceremonial
505-363-3896

August 8-10 - Santa Fe, NM 30th Annual Antique Ethnographic Art Show
505-992-8929

August 9-13 - Santa Fe, NM Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association workshops and evaluations at Santa Fe Convention Center

August 10-13 - Santa Fe Objects of Art Show at El Museo
310-901-6805

August 9-10 - Santa Fe Doug Alard's Best of Santa Fe Auction 
888-314-0343

August 10-11 - Santa Fe Auction by Manitou Gallery at Historic Hilton Hotel, Santa Fe
307-635-0019

August 10-12 - 35th Annual Whitehawk Antique Indian Art Show at Santa Fe Convention Center
505-992-8929

August 12-18 - Santa Fe SWAIA Indian Market in and around the Plaza

August 15-16 - Santa Fe Wheelwright Museum silent auction and live auction on Museum property.

August 22-25 - Baltimore, MD Summer Antiques Show at Baltimore Convention Center
561-822-5440

Monday, July 15, 2013

Who will feel impact of Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013?

As currently defined, the Marketplace Fairness Act of 2013, if passed will require merchants in one state to collect tax on purchases made from a different state, even if there is no other connection between the business and the other state. In other words, even if the seller has no store in that state.

There is a exemption for businesses with annual revenues of less than $1 million. 

What will be the impact on eBay, which certainly has sales in excess of $1 million a year. 

They could argue they are only a distribution service or an advertising medium; therefor they have no financial interest in the prices collected for items purchased trough them.

But, consider that they charge % fee for each sale. Doesn't that sound like financial interest to you?

So, will they be required to add an appropriate tax for each purchase and forward it the taxing authority for the buyer's state of residence?  Will that 5% to 7% tax collection be added to the purchase price of the seller? Will that diminish eBay's attractiveness for "bargain-hunters" and the listers who sell to them, many of whom deal in Indian arts?

'tis a puzzlement.

Do you sell through eBay? What is your opinion of the Marketplace Fairness Act ? What are your plans to cover the shortfall of revenue this may cost you? Join the conversation.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Reproduced from Facebook, in the interest of supporting the integrity of genuine Native American art.

Faux Native

On prosecuting Indian arts and crafts counterfeiters

 
PHOTO BY JARED TARBELL VIA FLICKR
 
Last week a California man pleaded guilty to a federal misdemeanor charge of selling fake Native American jewelry at a Santa Fe art show.
A federal judge sentenced 60-year-old Andrew Gene Alvarez aka “Redhorse” to 30 months probation for violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act by falsely stating that jewelry he made and sold was the creation of a Native American. Part of Alvarez's sentence prohibits him from claiming that any jewelry he makes is a Native American product.
The Indian Arts and Crafts Act forbids the offer or display for sale and the sale of any good in a manner falsely suggesting that it is Indian-produced, an Indian product or the product of a particular Indian or Indian tribe. It's a “truth-in-advertising law designed to prevent products from being marketed as ‘Indian-made,’ when the products are, in fact, not made by Indians as defined in the Act.”
According to court records, the FBI launched an investigation into Alvarez after receiving a tip from the Interior Department’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB). The IACB asserted that Alvarez, who is not an enrolled member of any recognized Native American tribe, claimed he was either Mescalero Apache or Colville and Mayo Indian as he sold goods in Santa Fe and across the U.S.
The feds busted Alvarez after he sold fake Indian jewelry to undercover agents at the Native Treasures show in Santa Fe; that show's program listed him as a Colville/Apache jewelry maker. In addition to passing his jewelry off as Native American-made, authorities said Alvarez even concocted an oral bio detailing a fake Native American heritage.
“It’s crazy, but it happens all the time. And it’s a shame because it is a national treasure that we have Native American communities who can create such beautiful artwork that you don’t find anywhere else,” said Wayne Bobrick of Wright’s Indian Art.
Bobrick said in the many years he's bought and sold Indian art and jewelry, he's seen many cases where non-Natives have undermined the market by claiming Native American heritage and producing counterfeit work. Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, Indian art is defined as any product produced by one of the 1.9 million members of the 565 federally- or state-recognized Indian tribes or individuals certified as Indian artisans by an Indian tribe.
Native American artist and activist Tony Eriacho said Alvarez is just part of the problem and that these types of cases persist because of lax laws and very little meaningful prosecution. “Nobody has gone to jail or put any teeth into the law,” he said. According to a 2011 Government Accountability Report, the Indian Arts and Crafts Board received almost 650 complaints alleging misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods between 2006 and 2010. The same report revealed that the IACB determined 150 of these complaints involved apparent law violations, and it determined 117 needed more investigation, but no cases were filed in federal court as a result.
In actuality only five people have been prosecuted for violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act between 1990 and 2010. Of those five cases, two were dismissed and the other three resulted in sentences ranging from probation to 13 months jail time.
Eriacho said arbitrary custom laws make it easy for merchants to pass off imported articles of “Native American-style” jewelry as authentic Indian art and jewelry. At one time imported art and jewelry incorporating traditional Native American design motifs had to be permanently marked with its country of origin. But, in order to accommodate the demands of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), U.S. Customs penciled in an exception to the permanent marking rule. That exception allows imported Native American-style jewelry and art to enter the country with a removable sticker if it's determined that it is “technically commercially infeasible” to place a permanent marking on the product.
Eriacho insists that some Native Americans don’t make the situation better by buying imported goods, removing the stickers and passing them off as authentic. He adds that since there is no clear definition of what's categorized as Indian art, quality issues arise. “This makes it difficult to explain to customers the importance of buying something made entirely from scratch, instead of going to a hobby or bead shop and buying all these beads and materials and stringing it up,” said Eriacho.
Both Eriacho and Bobrick agree that dealers and consumers need to be educated about what they're buying. But Bobrick said one thing he's learned in 42 years in the industry is that it isn’t always easy to tell the difference between real and fake goods. “There are some things that are obvious, but if they do it well enough, anyone can be fooled,” said Bobrick; he has even heard of instances where an artist has visited a shop and seen counterfeit versions of their own work—complete with signature—for sale.
The report states that very few of these cases are prosecuted because many federal and state agencies rely on education rather than law enforcement to curtail misrepresentation of Indian arts and crafts. One IACB method of investigating cases was sending a warning letter to alleged offenders. The letters are generalized to businesses that sell Indian arts and crafts, detailing the requirements for the sale of Indian arts and crafts and defining possible penalties. But the GAO report concludes these efforts are thwarted by public ignorance of the law, law enforcement priorities and the cost of legal action.
According to the GAO report, outdated and limited data makes it difficult to determine the size of the Indian arts and crafts market and to what extent misrepresentation occurs. It states that a comprehensive study to estimate the size of the market would be “complex and costly and may not provide reliable results.”

What's happening in July in Tribal Arts

July 6-7 -80th Annual Hopi Festival of Arts and Culture at Museum of Northern Arizona
928-774-5213

July 9-10 - Brimfield, MA Brimfield AntiqueMarket

July 12-14 - Taos, NM 28th Annual Powow at Taos Pueblo
575-758-1028

July 25-26 - Taos Pueblo Feast Days of Santiago and Santa Ana

July 27-28 - Eagle Nest NM High Country Arts and Crafts Festival
575-377-2420