Sunday, May 15, 2022

Do-gooders doing ungood.

St. Lawrence Island is a hard place to live. Just 35 miles from Siberia, it sits in the vortex of brutally cold currents of the Bering Strait. The warmest day of the year - all year - every year - is just 50 degrees fahrenheit. Yet, people live there.

They are Yupik Eskimos. They have lived there for as long as any people have lived in North America.

How do they survive? It's too cold to grow crops. They survive by building skin-covered boats and setting out into the Bering Strait to catch dinner from sea. A successful catch requires towing home a mega-mammal behind their flimsy boats. 

It's demanding, dangerous work. But they have no choice. It's that or starve. So they persist, as they have for centuries,

Setting aside the romanticization of whales (who doesn't love the playful whales an insurance company features in their TV commercials?), these hearty hunters must go out whaling or die. 

Sometimes it is both.

In this unforgiving world, winter nights are looooong. Hours and hours of frigid darkness before the sun appears again. In summer, the reverse prevails with endless days of sunlight.

What do the Yupiks do with that time? They hunt for food and they carve. Learning from their elders, they become prolific artists creating effigies of the creatures who share their world. They consider it a way to honor the sea life that feeds them. 

Yupiks believe the bits and bones left over after the edible parts of the meal have been consumed contain the spirits of their providers. This is the material the sea goddess Sedna provides for them to carve. Just as the blubber provides nutrition, what's left and inedible eventually becomes carvings to sell to the outside world to pay for things the hunt can't provide.

Jason Nowpakohok was a young Yupik who lived with his family in the native community of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island. At 38 years he had become the mayor of Gambell. In 2005, he and his 11-year old daughter set off in his 16-foot skin boat to bring home dinner for the community. They succeeded in getting a large whale intto tow. 

Even with the help other hunters, it must have looked like Lilliputians bring ing Gulliver. The sea was not helping. It churned up dangerous chop and difficult swells. Jason and his daughter never made it back to St. Lawrence Island,

I learned about this years later when researching about a Jason Nowpakahok walrus tusk carving of a polar bear mother and her two cubs, which Jason had signed. We had acquired it in 2004, a year before that tragic event.

As I think about it, several things come to mind. First, every work of native art has a tale to tell. Each isa part of native culture. 

Second, people hunt, harvest and work to express their innner-most feelings about thier cultures: The Inuit do not hunt for fun. Or for scraps of bone and tusk to carve. They harvest whales and other sea life to eat. They carve those materials because they let nothing go to waste.

Third, the highest motives of institutions trying to protect species by enacting sweeping rules - i.e. restricting the sale of all ivory to protect elephant ivory when it restricts non-elephant ivory - often has unintended, unfortunate consequences, like denying hard-earned sustenance from people who benefit from maintaining the health of their resources.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

RIP : Sammy Smith

Sad news about Navajo carver Sammy Smith

We learned recently, when we were approached by an indivdiual who inherited some fetishes carved by Sammy Smith, that Sammy passed away last year. Since we were all caught up in the Covid preoccupation, we failed to travel to Sammy Smith's home turf in New Mexico. 

We first met Sammy Smith in Gallup, New Mexico, several years ago. We were struck by the technical excellence of his carvings and the variety of subjects and treatments. We also were impressed by how gracious he was and how generous he was with ihis time as he shared his experiences as a Navajo carver with us.

Sadly, there will be no new fetish carvings coming from this remarkable talent, a loss to all who knew him and have been fans of his artistry. We still have a few of his pieces available at As a matter of practice, and out out of respect for the carver and the carver's collectors, we do Not raise prices of carvers when they stop carving. With inflation on the horizon (some say it is already here), we may consider price increases after a suitable period. In the meantime, we continue to offer Sammy Smith fetish carvings at the prices they have at since prior to his passing. 

Here's a direct link to his page on the ZuniLink website. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Celebrate the birth of Christ.


Celebrate the Birth of Christ with an authentic Native American Nativity.

What better way to demonstrate the universality of God's Love for all his Creation? 

Nativities are wonderful to display at Christmas and often become treasured heirlooms as they are put out each year, Christmas after Christmas.

The richness of these memories can be yours when you bring one of the wonderful works of reverent art at into your home.

Delivery to your address in time for Christmas display is iincluded in the price. 

What's holding you back? Whether you add one of these treasures to your annual Christmas celebration or not, we wish you a blessed Christmas season.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

Sad Corona Virus News for Santa Fe, NM

Coronavirus is not good news for anyone. 
But Santa Fe, which is so dependent on tourism for its livelihood, it is particularly unfortunate. Every year for 99 years, Santa Fe has hosted the SWAIA Indian Market in August. 
This year was to be the 100th anniversary year. It would have been cause for huge celebration. And I mean huge. Indian Market attracts 1000s of Native American artists to present their art and objects for sale. 
Tented booths line the edges of the plaza and adjacent streets. As a result. 10s of 100s of visitors come t0 Santa Fe, New Mexico's capital for the event. Hotels are filled. Restaurants are packed. Shops and Native vendors sell like hot tamales. 
It is more than a boost to the local economy. It is it's lifeblood.
But not this year. 
Coronavirus has stymied normal tourism to Santa Fe and Indian Market has been cancelled, for the safety of all concerned. Collectors of Native America art and jewelry are left to alternative stragies to meet the demands of their collections.
There is one path of resolution. Online galleries, and offer Santa Fe quality fetish carvings and jewelry, Southwest and Pueblo pottery and Navajo folk art respectively at the touch of your smartphone, tablet or computer. 
There's also an unexpected side-benefit: prices are not inflated by Santa Fe overhead or local taxes. And as badly as you may want to leave your house, you don't have to. Anything ordered from these sites will be delivered to your doorstep, with a guaranteed refund if your order disappoints you when you receive it. 
Stay healthy and avoid the crowds while feeding your need for beautiful objects from this rich culture.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

After-Christmas Sale - Save Now

Didn't get exactly what you want at Christmas?

Haven't figured out how to use your tax bonus?, and
have money-saving opportunities for you.

For the first 10 days of 2018, we are reducing by 25% every item in our Zuni fetish, Indian jewelry, Native American pottery and miscellaneous tribal art collection.
There is a catch, however. 

Because so many items are involved, and the prices will return to what the are before the sale, changing every price on the web sites is a ton of work.

So to take advantage of this 25% saving you are asked to call us toll-free at 1-800-305-0185 and let us know what you want to order. We will adjust the price on those items for you alone. and arrange for you to pay using Paypal. It's really simple, and much more personal than using a shopping cart. 

(If you want to order an item to pay off over time, we can arrange that too and will honor those orders as part of this sale.)

Here's what you want to do:

Visit if you are interested in fetish carvings or Native American Indian jewelry. Find the item(s) that turn you on, and call us at 1-800-305-0185 with the inventory number. If those items are still available, we will knock 25% off the listed price, accept your credit card information or and send you a Paypal invoice for the reduced price. When your payment is confirmed, your order will be shipped to you by the next business day.

Or, if Native American Indian and Pueblo pottery are your interest, visit us at and call us at the toll-free number. We will talk you through the same process.

Finally, if you are interested in Native American folk art, You will find those items at Again, when you find something that interests you, call us. We will take it from there.

We hope your 2018 is filled with joy and wonderful Native American and other Tribal treasures

Friday, February 24, 2017

Avoid fake Native Art and Jewelry

Suddenly, "fake news" is a hot topic. But this news is real and good news. Aboriginals Gallery and its online subsidiaries at, and Are pleased to share this news with you.

Every time someone purchases a fake Native Fetish Carving, fake item of Native American jewelry or a fake Pueblo pot, they take income and grocery money out of the pocket of a bona fide Native Artist.

"Five Charged With Selling Fake Native American Jewelry
Individuals sold fake Native American jewelry that was allegedly made in Philippines
Alysa Landry • February 22, 2017
Five individuals are being charged with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act after they allegedly imported and fraudulently marketed fake Native American jewelry.
A federal grand jury in Albuquerque returned an indictment February 9 charging five people of marketing or distributing fake Native American jewelry that was manufactured or imported jewelry from the Philippines. The indictment identifies 40 specifics fraudulent acts, including sales of the jewelry in stores in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico, to individuals who were unaware they were purchasing fake Native American jewelry.
Additionally, more than 50 financial transactions took place between April 2014 and October 2015, the indictment states. Sales involved more than $300,000 total, in amounts ranging from $1,100 to $60,000.
The recent indictment is the second to come as a result of a continuing federal investigation that began in January 2015 and led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The investigation targeted an international scheme to violate the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which prohibits the marketing or sale of any good in a manner that falsely suggests that it is Indian produced, an Indian product or the product of a particular Indian tribe. Law enforcement agents executed eight search and seizure warrants in New Mexico, California, Alaska, Kentucky, Nevada and the Philippines.
“The indictment we announce today is the result of the largest investigation ever into [fake Native American jewelry] sales under the IACA,” said Nicholas Chavez, special agent in charge with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “We hope the charges filed as a result of this continuing investigation will deter this criminal activity.”
U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez, of the District of New Mexico, condemned the activity and pointed to a lack of respect “to those whose creations are seen by some as simple retail commodities to be exploited for profit.”
“The indictments filed as a result of this continuing investigation are not only about enforcing the law, but also about protecting and preserving the cultural heritage of Native Americans,” he said. “Eliminating the flow of counterfeit Native American art and craftwork provides a level playing field for the highly talented, dedicated and hard-working producers of genuine Native American art.”
According to the indictment, the following four individuals are being charged with conspiring to violate the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, fraudulent importation, money laundering, wire fraud and mail fraud: Imad Aysheh, 41, formerly of Gallup, New Mexico, identified as owner and operator of a jewelry manufacturing business in the Philippines; Iyad Aysheh, 45, of Lodi, California, identified as CEO and agent for a California operation that imports jewelry into the United States; Raed Aysheh, 39, of American Canyon, California, identified as the owner and operator of a retail store that specializes in Native American-style jewelry; and Nedal Aysheh, 37, formerly of Gallup, New Mexico.
The indictment alleges that, between March 2014 and October 2015, Imad Aysheh manufactured Indian-style jewelry using Filipino labor for import into the United States while Nedal Aysheh provided source material and trained Filipino laborers. It also alleges that Iyad Aysheh imported jewelry, Iyad Aysheh and Raed Aysheh accepted shipments and Iyad Aysheh, Nedal Aysheh and Raed Aysheh distributed the fake Native American jewelry in stores specializing in the sale of Native jewelry.
The indictment further alleges that the four defendants conspired to defraud the United States of money by using the U.S. mail and wire communications to promote the importation and sale of the Filipino jewelry as Indian-made, and to launder the proceeds of these sales.
A fifth defendant, Nael Ali, 53, of Albuquerque, also is charged with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act in October 2015. Ali is owner and operator of two arts and crafts retail stores in the Old Town section of Albuquerque.
The indictment seeks forfeiture of more than $20,000 in cash, $6,723 in a bank account and more than 1,000 pieces of Indian-style jewelry. The five defendants are ordered to appear in federal court for arraignment. If convicted, they each face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine."

Do not allow yourself to be conned out of your hard-earned cash. Always insist on a signed Certificate of Authenticity when you buy a Zuni fetish, a Navajo bracelet or Pueblo pottery.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

One of our favorite Zuni artists is retiring.

Lena Boone's Zuni carving heritage goes back to the legendary Teddy Weahkee (d.), one of the first Zuni artists to carve fetish creatures, arguably the very first carve them as an art form.

Born in 1946, Lena has worked enough years to decide to stop carving. This is a considerable loss to collectors of Zuni fetish carvings. Lena and her sister, Dinah (Gasper), were daughters of the Teddy's daughter, Edna Leki (d.), who was also a highly collected carver.

Dinah was married to Peter Gasper Sr. (d.). There offspring included carvers, Debra Gasper (Tsethlikai) and Peter Gasper, Jr. All of who carried on the carving tradition.

Lena, who was married to Rignie Boone (d.), has two children, Evalena Boone and Leland Boone. Both continue to carve.

While Lena is retiring, her influence continues in her nephew, Robert Michael Weahkee. Lena has been a major mentor and inspiration for Robert Michael Weahkee. In fact, it was Lena who first introduced to Robert Micheal Weahkee's work. It was in Santa Fe, NM, where we had agreed to meet Lena so she could deliver new carvings we were purchasing from her. At the conclusion of that transaction, she excitedly asked us to join her at her car. She opened the trunk and eagerly presented new antler altar carvings  by Robert Michael. This was our first encounter with his carvings and the first time we had even learned about him. We were impressed by their artistry and immediately acquired them,

It was the continuation of a beautiful friendship with the Weahkee family. We continue to visit with Lena, Evalena, Leland and Robert Michael at her Zuni home each year.

What customarily happens when an artist stops creating is a rush to acquire his or her work that is still on the market. This is often followed by a price increase inspired by decreasing supply of new carvings. As a matter of principle, we refuse to engage in this behavior. We will continue offer all of the work we have by Lena,for as long as we have items to sell, at the original prices, encourages you to take advantage what is available. We also encourage you to consider the work of Lena's Weahkee family, all of which is outstanding. Elah kwa.