Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just a Holiday Wish

Two days before Christmas day, the post office tells us it is too late to deliver, even overnight, before Christmas Morning. Therefore our web sites at Native-JewelryLink, Native-PotteryLink, TribalWorks and ZuniLink are unable to fulfill Christmas gift orders in a timely way.

So, this is a perfect time simply to wish all of our loyal customers and readers a Merry Christmas and a New Year filled witth happiness and prosperity.

Thank you for spending this year with us. We hope you will come back and see us in 2010.

Susanne and William Waites

Friday, December 18, 2009

Indians Dance at Native American Art Show in Cape Coral, FL

About a week ago, with our continuing interest in Native American art, as evidenced at our web sites (ZuniLink, Native American jewelry, Native American pottery and TribalWorks), we spent an afternoon at a Native American art show in Cape Coral, Florida. We were attracted to some degree by the incongruity of Native American art in this venue. Nevertheless, it was a satisfying experience.

We encountered a Native American artist, Susie Longhair, Cocopah, that we had not met before. We were struck by the ingenuity and attractiveness of her jewelry creations. We posted about it a few days back and included some photos of items we acquired.

This posting, however, is about dancing that was demonstrated by Native American Indians present at the show. The dance presentation included some instructive narrative about the dances, some of which we were able to capture on video. But, given the limited recording time available on the video camera, we chose to concentrate on the dances. So here they are:

For another look at aspects of Native American culture, visit our web sites at for examples of expert Native American jewelry, for examples of beautifully created Pueblo and other Indian pots, and for fetish carvings by Zuni and other Native peoples. Thank you.

Australian government to implement Resale Royalty Rights for visual artists.

(William & Susanne Waites, proprietors of Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, report on news and events influencing the tribal art market.)

In legislation passed this November, the Australian Parliament has created a law that will require payment of a royalty of 5% of the resale price of a work of art to the artist, if still living, or to the artist's estate for seventy years following the artist's death.

There are conditions, but profitability is not one of them. If a gallery (or private owner, one presumes) sells the art for less than was paid for it, a 5% royalty still must be paid. At this point, the royalty is only payable on a sale exceeding $1,000.

We have commented earlier, when this law was being vetted, our concern that the unintended consequences of the law will be more damaging than the benefits, if any.

For example, if a gallery is required to pay 5% of the sale price of work that they may lose money on, how eager will they be to purchase art by unknown or emerging artists? Will this stunt the market for those without establish reputations?

Will the market see and automatic increase in pricing of more than 5% to cover the cost of the royalty? Will this also have a depressing effect on the art market?

Will this external market control, as with many well-intended moves, end up doing damage to the interests of the artists it seeks to protect?

Fortunately, all of the Australian Aboriginal works in our inventory at
are exempt until they are sold in the Australian market a second time.

You could consider it a 5% discount.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two More Days of Free Shipping

Since we understand from the USPS that they still can deliver priority packages by Christmas if they are mailed no later than December 17, we have extended our free shipping offer until the close of Post Office business on 12/17.

This offer extends to any jewelry or fetish carving shipped by USPS Priority to any point in the US. We may be able to apply it to other items from our other web sites at TribalWorks and Native-PotteryLink too. Ask us.

Finally, if you are absolutely desperate and still have not ordered by December 22, all is not lost. FedEx is available for over night delivery. It is not free and it is a little on the expensive side. But it will get there in time.

We just sent an item via FedEx to a member of the military who is about to deploy, so overnight delivery was an absolute must. We were happy to pitch in and share the cost of the shipping as a our small way of saying "thank you" to the defenders of our freedom.

May your holidays be shiny and bright, like the Native American jewelry we offer, and your New Year be filled with healing, like the Zuni fetishes we sell.

Susanne and William

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Pleasure to meet a NEW Native American artist.

One of the great treats of this vocation/avocation is the opportunity to meet new artists. It is especially rewarding when you do so in unexpected places.

We decided to go the the Native American art show in Cape Coral, FL. It is the next town over from us and we were curious about what kind of a crowd and exhibitors it would attract.

The crowd was small, but enthusiastic on a beautiful, cool Florida day. There were Indian dancers. I shot a video of some of the action. It will be posted here shortly.

First, however, I want to introduce you to the work of an artist we met for the first time at this event.

Her name is Suzie Longhair. She is a Cocopah Indian, which describes as a tribe related to the Maricopa. Her ancestral home is in Arizona.

We were struck by her work in a genre we had not seen before. She gathers shells and beads and other found items into works of Native American jewelry art.

They are hand-sewn to pieces of fabric with pin mechanisms and hooks so that the may be worn as pins or attached to chain or string as pendant.

Here are four that we picked up to offer to you.This one is a slice of brown-tinged ammonite surrounded by beads
in complimentary purples. It has both a pin and a pendant loop
attached to the fabric back. The size is 2" x 2 1/2".
It will be $135 when it gets posted to
our web site.
If you purchase it here, it's yours for $115.

This one is a bit eclectic, combining as it does a replica of an
African mask with complimentary shells and beads.
The size is 2 3/4" x 2 3/4". It will be $165
when it gets to
our web site. Right now it is $150.

This one is predominantly golden in hue. (Sorry about the photo;
I can sendbetter if you request it.) It is 3 1/4" x 2 3/4"
and is done in the form of a butterfly.Once it gets
to the web site it will be $155. Buy it now for $140.

Perhaps the most striking is the ultra-elegant dragonfly done
in all black beads and bits. The dragonfly is highly revered
in native culture as a harbinger of rain. This pin/pendant
will be $125. An early bird will get the dragonfly for $110.

Bonus time: Each of these unique creations comes with complimentary-colored fabric pouch to keep it safe in a jewelry drawer. No extra charge.

If you are interested, don't delay. These are the only ones we have of these. And we can still get one to you by Christmas if you act now.

Two days left for free shipping

We will ship any purchase from our ZuniLink and Native American jewelry sites free via USPS Priority to any point in the US.

Priority will have it to you in time for holiday giving.

Of course, if the person who receives your gift wants to return it, we will accept returns through January 3, 2010. No questions asked. All we do ask is that the item be in the same condition as it was shipped.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannakuh and a prosperous New Year to all.

The online addresses again: for outstanding fetish and other carvings by Zuni Indians and other Native Americans and for Native American Indian jewelry that is certain to please a flatter any recipient.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Gold! in Native American tribal art jewelry!!

I last wrote about Native American jewelry in gold back when that precious metal was less than $800 an ounce. Even then, I pointed out that this was a good time to buy gold jewelry from us because our prices had not increased at the pace of the replacement cost of gold.

I also recall talking with Artie Yellowhorse, a fabulous Navajo jewelrymaker who used to do a lot of work in gold (right). It was about three years ago. At that time, she said she was not doing anything more in gold. It had become too expensive for her.

We have not acquired anything made with gold - granted it is 14k, not pure (24k) - in several years. So all the gold and gold overlay pieces we offer had their prices set according to what we paid when gold was less than $800 per ounce.

An example is this exquisite 14k gold pendant (left) in the shape of a whale fluke, with inlay of opal. It includes a 14k gold chain.

Today gold is hovering just below $1,200 per ounce. All those television commercials selling gold bullion suggest it is going higher. But our prices are still where they were three years ago, when gold was much less expensive.

So we repeat our observation that this is a bargain time to buy gold and gold overlay jewelry from Native-JewelryLink. Just click on the link to go to our primary case for Native American gold jewelry.

By the way, we are offering free USPS Priority shipping for Christmas, with guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery, on any Native American jewelry order placed by December 15.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Perils of Paying - A Tribal Art Morality Tale.

Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, host of Tribal Artery and web sites at ZuniLink, Native-JewelryLink, Native-PotteryLink and TribalWorks, regularly surveys the news-sphere to bring readers news of interest concerning the art world.

The Santa Fe New Mexican has reported on an IRS tax raid on a Santa Fe art gallery as part of an alleged tax investigation.

According to the New Mexican, numerous federal agents entered the Torres Gallery on Water Street and confiscated scores of works by gourd artist, Robert Rivera.

Buried in the story was an interesting report that federal agents took issue with whether or not some of the items confiscated were owned by the gallery, the result of gallery owners having paid for them, or were present in the gallery on consignment from the artist. In the latter case, they qualify as property of the artist, who appears to be the target of the action. In the former case, however, they would be the property of the gallery and not be subject to seizure in settlement of a tax judgment.

The gallery manager, Frank Quintanar, is reported as having said he had trouble convincing the federal agents that some items were paid for and, therefore belong to someone other than the artist.

The lessons to be learned from this?

If you are a gallery owner or dealer, retain all receipts or other proof of purchase in a place where it can be easily accessed. Visits from the authoritiea are seldom announced in advance.

If you are a collector, remove your purchase from the gallery or store premises immediately upon completing your purchase. You do not want to be caught in the middle between the government and an artist who may or may not be delinquent on tax payments.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Free Shipping of Native American art & jewelry

As the year-end holidays roll towards us, many of you are thinking of what to give your favorite aunt or friend or even children. (We have one client who buys a new fetish carving for her son every year as a way of encouraging him to appreciate Native American art and culture and to get him into collecting.)

When you visit our web sites at ZuniLink and Native-JewelryLink, please keep in mind that we will pay for shipping to you or the person you are giving to, from now through December 15. Pre-Christmas delivery is guaranteed if we receive your paid order by December 15.

We also guarantee satisfaction through January 5 so that you or gift your receivers can change your minds about any piece you order.

We also will provide free shipping for most items of Arctic and Navajo folk art at TribalWorks. If you see something you like ask about our shipping policy for the Holidays. We will work with you.

Thank you and please have a grateful Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tribal Art: The New Felony?

Did you know that the person who sells art to you could be a felon? Or you could be one for purchasing any art with a component of wood or plant fiber?


According to provisions in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, aka Public Law 110-246, an amendment to the Lacey Act that is included in the bill makes all wood a federally regulated, suspect substance.

To quote from the blog, Classical Values, “Either raw wood, lumber, or anything made of wood from tables and chairs, to flooring, siding, particle board, to handles on knives, baskets, chopsticks, or even toothpicks has to have a label naming the genus and species of tree that it came from and the country of origin. Incorrect labeling becomes a federal felony.” And the law applies to any wood product that is in interstate commerce within the country.

Here are excerpts from a summary of the law, once again as provided by Classical Values:

“Anyone who imports into the United States, or exports out of the United States, illegally harvested plants or products made from illegally harvested plants, including timber, as well as anyone who exports, transports, sells, receives, acquires or purchases such products in the United States, may be prosecuted.”


“Violations of the Lacey Act provisions for timber and other plant products, as well as fish and wildlife, may be prosecuted through either civil or criminal enforcement actions. Regardless of any prosecution, the tainted plants may be seized and forfeited.”

So, according to this law and this interpretation of it, anyone who sells you a wood carving, a basket, or an object of art with a wood component, such as a picture frame, and anyone who buys it, without a label as to genus and species of wood and country of origin, can be subject to prosecution of committing a felony. And you can be prosecuted for buying and having it.

Yes, there is a requirement that interstate commerce have been included. But almost everything we sell and own these days was involved in interstate commerce at one time or another.

While all would have to agree that the chances of anyone being prosecuted is remote, it is also true that once the Feds have you in their sights, they can and will use anything to get you. I recall hearing that they never could arrest Al Capone for anything, due to insufficient evidence, until they caught him with an open cigarette pack on which the federal tax stamp had not been destroyed.

Equally of concern is the possibility that materials can be confiscated and not returned, regardless of the outcome of any prosecution.

There have been recent stories of Federal agents raiding and confiscating collections of Native American tribal artifacts on the premise that the items were acquired illegally and in violation of Federal law. Granted, some pieces confiscated do fall under Federal prohibitions. At the same time, many pieces are confiscated that do not constitute contraband. These may be held for long periods, even indefinitely, during investigations.

Keep this in mind as you consider selling or purchasing any goods that fall within the purview of the Lacey Act as amended by Public Law 110-246.

Is anyone safe?

This report is provided by Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, online dealers in African, Australian and Native American tribal art.

We also offer Native American jewelry, Native American pottery and Native American stone carvings online.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Reviewing Aboriginal Art Shows

In a recent blog at Aboriginal Art & Culture: an American Eye, Will Owen reviews two Aboriginal art shows in Washington, DC.

The Washington, DC shows were Australian Indigenous Art Triennial: Culture Warriors and Lands of Enchantment: Australian Aboriginal Paintings.

Owen's review dwells heavily on the hanging of the show, while spending some of his words also discussing the quality of the works presented.

Since we, unfortunately, have not been able to attend either show, we are not prepared to validate Owen's opinion of the presentation aspects of the shows.

But as fans, collectors and dealers of Australian Aboriginal art, we can enthusiastically share his passion for works that were hung, and his appreciation that shows focusing on Australian Aboriginal art
even were made available to American audiences.

We encourage you to visit Owen's blog site (using the link above) to read his review, and, if you want to see more of this stimulating Australian Aboriginal art, to visit our website,

Thank you

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tribal Art Holiday Loyalty Sale - Starts Now. Save 25%

Do I smell turkey roasting? Hmm.

Thanksgiving must be near.

That means it’s time for Aboriginals’ Annual Holiday Loyalty Sale.

From today through November 22, 2009, we are offering our loyal e-newsletter and this blog subscribers 25% off every purchase.

Give the love of your life a beautiful authentic Native American jewelry bracelet, pendant or other item of adornment at 75% below the regular price.

Save 25% on a beautiful Native American Pueblo pot, storyteller or Nativity set.

Any fetish collector in your circle will be gratefully impressed by a Zuni, Cochiti, San Felipe or Navajo carving.

Check out our extraordinary collection African tribal masks and carvings, charming Inuit items, make-you-smile Navajo folk art pieces and traditional tribal art by world-class Australian Aboriginal artists.

Everything on our websites is yours at 25% off the listed price. Just include this code – “Tribal 2009” - in your order. We’ll take the 25% off at “check-out”.

(We are not changing the listed prices on the web site because these discounts are available only to loyal subscribers and when the sale is over on November 23, the original prices will stand.)

Don’t wait too long. Choice items will go first. And we will need time to ship before Christmas.

Thank you for your loyalty.

Friday, October 23, 2009

ATADA Theft Alert - Native American jewelry

The Antique Tribal Art Dealers Association has posted a new alert concerning thirty-five pieces of antique American Indian Jewelry stolen from a Tucson, Arizona gallery on October 15 2009.

A full report on the stolen pieces of Native American Indian jewelry can be accessed on the ATADA theft alert page,

ATADA issues these alerts and we at forward them based on experience that widely publicizing the theft and the items involved makes it difficult for the thieves to fence or sell them. If the thieves attempt to sell the items, someone in the field may recognize one or more of the stolen pieces and report the thieves to the police.

It is a crime to possess stolen property. Note that there is no statute of limitations on stolen property in the USA. Let the buyer beware!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Go Pink for the Cure with this Pink Shell Native American necklace

In support of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Aboriginals: Art of the First Person will donate 40% of the purchase price of this stunning sterling silver and pink shell Navajo necklace to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Organization's efforts to find a cure for breast cancer.

Adorn yourself or someone you love with this elegant choker-style necklace and Susanne Waites, proprietor of Aboriginals: Art of the First Person and operator of the web site, Native-JewelryLink will donate 40% of the purchase price to this worthwhile cause. The contribution will be made in the name of the purchaser.

When others notice your necklace you can use it as an opportunity extend awareness of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure efforts.

You can see an enlarged photo of this beautiful piece of authentic, Native American Navajo jewelry by clicking on the photo above.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Revisiting Australian Tiwi Aboriginal art

An update on Tiwi art in Australia by William Ernest and Susanne Waites, owners of Aboriginals: Art of the First Person.

As you may know Susanne and I once lived in Australia, which was where we developed our love for tribal art. That affection started with the art of Australian Aborigines.

As our exposure increased and expanded, we traveled to many Aboriginal sites in the country. One of our favorites, to which we paid a repeat visit during our last travel to and through Australia, was the
Tiwi Islands of Bathurst and Melville.

two island, sitting where the Arafura Sea meets the Timor Sea, about 50 miles offshore from Darwin, NT, are unique even vs. Aboriginal communities elsewhere in Australia.

They have a different history and the inhabitants speak a different language. As a result, the art created by the Tiwi people has its own distinctive character.

Melville Island, the larger of the two is second only to Tasmania in area. Bathurst Island is smaller but in many respects more significant since it is home to Nguiu, site of an airport, and the most prominent of three Aboriginal Art Centres on the islands. A narrow strait, the Aspley Strait,
separates the two islands.

The physical sensation of the Tiwi islands is one of pungent aromas, heavy humidity and a hot, jungle tropical quality. The smells of local flora hang heavy in the air. The sense of remoteness from the rest of the world and the rest of Australia is intensified by the surrounding stands of equatorial timber.

The Tiwi people are open, friendly and welcoming. They also are extraordinarily talented, creating paintings, prints, textile designs and ochre-painted sculptures rich with traditions of
Tiwi mythology and ceremonies. An example is the striking work done on the Pukumani poles. These are carved from ironwood and decorated with designs from the Tiwi past. A common feature of the painting is the cross-hatching used to fill negative space. Another common design element is the circle, replicating symbols associated with Tiwi ceremonies such as the Pukumani and the Kulama.

The Pukumani is a mortuary cermony, carried out over several months following the death of a Tiwi person. Tiwi belief is that the dead person's spirit remains in the living world until it is released by the final Pukumani.

The tall and sturdy Pukumani poles are placed around the burial site. They require weeks of preparation including harvesting the logs, carving the intensely grained wood and painting
ritual designs on the surface. Participants in Pukumani dance and sing around the grave and the posts.

When the ceremony is finished, the poles are left to decay, often capped by inverted bark baskets called tungas. These would have been used by the dead person during life to carry and contain food and water.

Tiwi art centres of Jilimara Arts & Crafts and Munupi Arts & Crafts, are located respectively at Milikapiti (Snake Bay) and Pirlangimpi (Garden Point) on Melville Island. Both centres are managed by coordinators assigned by the Australian government. Jilimara, which is Tiwi for "body painting" also refers to the designs painted in detail on the bodies of dancers and on the Pukumani poles. Munupi also became a center for large murals and panels an for making limited edition prints.

The third art centre is Tiwi Art and Design, near Nguiu. Tiwi Design is much more concerned with the creation of textiles designed with traditional Tiwi imagery. They find their way into silk-screened or hand-painted garments and fabrics.

All three art centres are joined in a consortium of collaboration and continuity. The old traditions of Tiwi art regularly meet the individual self-expression of younger artists. But the latter always respect the old, while extending imagery into new areas.

The days we spent on Bathurst and Melville Islands were among the most stumlating a
nd satisfying experiences we encountered with Australian Aboriginal art. Now we learn that the traditions of Tiwi art that were displayed and celebrated this year at the Telstra Awards, Australia's recognition of outstanding Aboriginal art, have encouraged even further growth and development of art and artists at the Tiwi art centres.

For further information about Australian Aboriginal and Tiwi art, we recommend the following resources:

The Australian: "Creative Worlds Collide in Tiwi Art" Aboriginal Art Online Aboriginal Art & Culture : An American Eye Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory

We also refer you to the
Australian Aboriginal art pages at TribalWorks, our web site featuring a range of tribal art.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Tribal Art Theft Alert

The Antique Tribal Art Dealers Asscociation has issued a new notice about stolen goods.

"A Zia Jar and a pair of American Indian Hi Top Mocs were stolen from a Santa Fe, NM
Gallery during the night of October 2, 2009. Photos and details of the stolen merchandise are posted at

Please check out the images posted on the Theft Alert Page and familiarize yourself with them so that you will be prepared if someone offers any of these for sale."

History proves that stolen items that receive wide publicity are almost impossible to sell. There is no statute of limitations on stolen property in the USA.

This notice is forwarded as a public service by Susanne and William Ernest Waites, dealers in tribal art and owners of web sites offering Native American Jewelry, American Pueblo Pottery, Zuni and other carvings and other African, Australian, Arctic and Native American tribal art.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Fetish Carvings by Delbert Charging Crow

A report by Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, operators the popular Native American fetish carvings web site at


One of our most enjoyable days in New Mexico during Santa Fe Indian Market time was a visit with Delbert ChargingCrow, a Lakota Sioux carver living in Albuquerque. During the visit we looked at a number of new carvings done by Delbert since we last saw him. Some of these have been posted to our ZuniLink website.

We also had a long conversation with Delbert. He is a fascinating, very spiritual person. He reminded us of the healing power that he invests in each of his carvings. He also shared with us certain aspects of his carvings that we were not aware of.

For example, when bears have turning heads, they are male bears, For some people, they also represent the turning around of a life on a bad path. With so many of us heading in directions about which we are uncertain or that we feel may be self-destructive, the turning bear takes on great significance as a source of support and healing. (Delbert carves female bears as linear and moving forward.)

All of Delbert’s bears and all his carvings include a package of spiritual stones, feathers and small leather pouches. These add power and spiritual strength to each carving.

When Delbert carves a horse, it always also has a small "walking stick” attached to the power package. He furnishes it so that the rider can dismount and have the walking stick for support as he or she continues the journey.

Of course, with his heritage as a Plains Indian, Delbert considers the horse as a particularly important animal to carve, just as it was for his ancestors.

Delbert also told us the structure of the elk’s antler rack replicates two hands, eight fingers and two thumbs, joined together in prayer. It signifies the elk's intervention with the higher spirit. It’s something you don’t notice until it is pointed out. It definitely is there, just as Delbert intends it.

Occasionally, Delbert is drawn by the opportunity to carve more whimsical creatures, such as turtles, donkeys, rabbits, eagles, hawks and others. All are carved in Delbert’s inimicable, unmistakable style.

We have added some of these to our selection available for purchase.

People often look querulous when the so-called “healing power” of Native American fetish carvings is mentioned.

A little history: The concept of stone fetishes had its genesis in stones that were found on the ground in native lands after rainstorms. Many of them had shapes and characteristics resembling animals. It was believed by Zuni Indians in pre-historical times that these were actual animals that were petrified into stone when struck by lightning.

It was further believed that power of the original animal also was preserved in the stone. Healing and protection in bears. Long life in turtles. Fruitfulness in frogs. Wisdom in eagles. Cunning in wolves.

Eventually, Zuni carvers went beyond the inherent form of the stone to carve in characteristics that they associated. Even then, the carver only carves elements and forms that he or she sees already present in the material.

(Delbert pointed out that his own experience is that when a carver tries to carve an animal that isn't actually in the stone, the material fractures. The carver is forced either to throw the material away or look for another animal that may be hiding in the remnant stone.)

Fast forward to other tribes that adopted and adapted the carving of creatures and items reflective of the culture of that tribe. Navajo carvers tended to concentrate on domestic and livestock animals, as protectors of their flocks and herds.

Cochiti carvers, such as Salvador Romero and Wilson Romero, backtracked into forms that are more unpolished and crude, based on natural stone found on the Cochiti Pueblo.

Melvin Sandoval, from San Felipe Pueblo, married a Zuni woman and brought his unique modernistic style to fetish carving.

Delbert, a Lakota Sioux, was inspired to contribute his gift for carving and his native spiritualism as a healer to the genre.

It is true that carvings are not considered "fetishes" unless they have been blessed by a tribal priest. It also is generally accepted, however, that any carving which embodies the form and spirit of an animal may convey the power and magic of that creature, if the owner of the carving believes in it and takes care of the carving.

Delbert lives in Albuquerque and uses the public bus to take his granddaughter to school each day. He is a source of strength and guidance for this young lady. We admire his artistry, his soft-spoken spiritualism and his dedication to family.

We count it a great privilege to be able to consider Delbert ChargingCrow a great friend as well as a source for carvings that magical in the way the look and the solace they bring to life. Dozens of his carvings are available for purchase at

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Desert Mob - Art in the Australian Outback

As you know as a regular reader of this blog, the authors, William Ernest Waites and Susanne Waites, collect and deal in a wide range of tribal art, including that of Australian Aborigines.

Due to our interest in the remarkabe creativity of these people, we offer this report on a recent Aboriginal Art event in Alice Springs, NT Australia.


If you have never been to the Australian outback, it will be very difficult for you to envision the setting.

There are great stretches of red earth with desert scrub and, pretty much, nothing higher than the top of your boots. Dry river beds and washes course the earth.

In the midst of this are settlements of Australian Aboriginals who live a life incredibly close to the earth.

The major population center for all this is Alice Springs.

It's a community with a colonial quality, that would hardly be considered even a small city in the US.

(In fact, Australians don’t generally travel to the Aboriginal communities of the outback either. The government restricts the ability of non-Aboriginals to visit the settlements.)

It always amazes me that an extraordinary art movement has emerged here and flourishes here. Recently, the Desert Mob Show in Alice Springs presented this gripping art.

The Desert Mob show is all the more remarkable because of it roots in the community.

It lacks the funding many other shows have, including the recently experienced Native American Indian Market in Santa Fe, NM, USA.

Nevertheless, the vitality, fire and force of this work is more than inspiring. It is uplifting and mind-opening.

The Desert Mob is the result of a collection of Art Centers in the Australian outback that support and encourage Aboriginal artists.

Works done by these artists are brought to market and the public view at the Desert Mob Show. The show is not juried and not curated. All the art that the Art Centers choose to present is shown.

By all reports, the cumulative effect wass stunning, breathtaking, eye-fracturing beauty.

For more information, including a review of last year’s Desert Mob Show, visit this web site -

For examples of other tribal art offered by Susanne and William Ernest Waites can be found at and

Monday, August 31, 2009

Is your Calvin Begay really Calvin Begay?

This report is offered by Aboriginals: Art of the First Person, purveyors of fine tribal art at,, and, where we sell authentic, and only authentic, Calvin Begay jewelry.

Calvin is one of our our favorite jewelry artists. We have been offering his work for years.

Now, the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper reports that fakes purporting to be Calvin's work have shown up in at least one Santa Fe Native Art store.

Actually, we are not too surprised. Whenever an artist reaches the renown that Calvin has, he or she becomes a target for counterfeiters.

Calvin's history makes him a more vulnerable target than most.

He has been an atelier artist, in the tradition of such famous atelier masters as Michelangelo and DaVinci. This approach to art includes a number of “sous-chefs” that work on the master's designs under the master's supervision. It also allows the artist to influence and produce more work than if he or she was working on his or her own.

For a while, Calvin worked with A Touch of Santa Fe in Gallup, using a skilled staff of silversmiths and lapidary artists.

Almost all the work designed and made there carried both Calvin's signature ant the TSF stamp.

A few years back, Calvin and TSF went separate ways. Well, at least Calvin did. TSF continued to use Calvin's designs and some of his silversmiths and lapidary artists. The company also continued to identify the pieces as Calvin's work.

This ended when Calvin insisted that they stop and he moved to a new studio to create his work.

For a short interim period, there were pieces that were designed by Calvin but did not carry his signature. But it was a very limited number. It is identified by the precision of the inlay. Work done after Calvin left is definitely inferior.

Now, as indicated, there has been a gallery in Santa Fe selling work that it said was done by Calvin but he says was not.

According to the New Mexican newspaper, when a piece purchased at the store was shown to Calvin he said it was not his but was similar.

“TSF continues to use my designs,” Calvin claimed. “although I have instructed the business not to use my name stamp.”

The New Mexico Consumer Protection Division has sued the dealer, accusing them of manufacturing and selling pieces of jewelry that were falsely represented as having been made by Calvin. They also were accused of giving illegal discounts.

There is a moral to most stories.

This one is to always deal with dealers you know and trust. Be suspicious of “bargain” prices. Ask specific questions to get specific answers. If it sounds too good to be true, chances are a hundred-to-one it isn't true.

Aboriginals Gallery and our Native-JewelryLink web site absolutely guarantees that any piece we represent as being Calvin Begay's is Calvin Begay's. The same is true for any piece of jewelery or art we offer.

If a buyer is unhappy with their purchase from us after receiving it, we will return 100% of the purchase price.

And those prices are low because we are an exclusive online dealer, with the low overhead of the internet.

Update: New Mexico Attorney General has settled the fraud case against Santa Fe stores selling fake Calvin Begay jewelry. Store owners will pay restitution and a $10,000 fine, plus reimburse other purchasers who bought jewelry misrepresented as being the work of Calvin Begay. To qualify, submit the actual item along with an invoice or receipt to Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division, Jewelry Restitution Program, P.O. Drawer 1508, Santa Fe, NM 87504.

We recommend that you photograph and insure your piece(s) in order to track them after sending to the AG

Update: We received a letter from the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the US Department of Interior announcing their joint efforts with the New Mexico Attorney General to shut down the sale of fake Indian arts and crafts. We say "bravo". It's about time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Day 10 - 12 - The end is near.

This is the final report from the tour William Ernest and Susanne Waites to the National Parks of the Western US. Our granddaughter was with us. On these two days, we introduced her to the Native American culture reflected in our web sites:,, and .

As the end of our tour of the National Park draws close, we are starting to get itchy to move on.

Nothing had been formally planned for the next two days. We only needed to be in Salt Lake City on the morning of the 21st to catch our flight back to Chicago.

We decided on an early rise and a drive to Second Mesa in Hopi-Land.

We planned to have breakfast there, at the Cultural Center, to give Melissa a first-hand native experience.

This resulted in us leaving at sunrise and driving east into the blazing sun. Even with the visor down, the vision was seriously impaired. We were creeping along the drive in front of El Tovar at under 5 miles per hour. It was a good caution. Suddenly, directly in front of the car, standing in the middle of the road, was a large buck elk. He towered over the car and was in no hurry to move from
his road. He was accompanied by another younger buck and two or three does.

It was a stunning vision.

We stopped so the entourage could clear the road and so we could shoot photographs of this very close personal encounter.

We concluded that this probably was the same group of elk that had left their calling cards on the rim path a day earlier.

Hyped up by the experience, we continued on our way, only to realize that we had forgotten to check out when we left Bright Angel Lodge. We decided to return just to be certain they would know we had left. We were not that far down the road.

After stopping again at the Lodge lobby and telling the reception desk that we were leaving, we started out again.

By now the elk family had moved on, but we did see another group of deer or smaller elk while retracing our eastward route.Aside from a short stop at the Watch Tower on on the east end of the South Rim, where we saw some different perspectives on the canyon, we were on our way.
The trip required us to drive up Route 89 to a road that enters and passes through the Hopi Reservation.

Hopi is made up principally of three mesas, although many Hopi today live in areas below the mesas. The mesas are identified as First Mesa, Second Mesa and Third Mesa, said to be in the order the Spanish invaders encountered them.

The Hopi Reservation is completely surrounded by the much larger Navajo Reservation. Conflicts between the Hopi and the Navajo over land ownership and use go back many generations.

The mesas were settled by the Hopi for reasons of security.

Centuries ago, a mesa was a difficult height to climb without being seen and was easier to defend from attack than a flatland community. Since the mesas are not suited to sufficient agriculture to support the population, the Hopi became very inventive subsistence farmers. Corn is planted not in rows but in individual mounds of three or four plants, which can be watered efficiently. This is an important consideration in the arid desert the Hopis inhabit.

When driving west to east, Third Mesa is the first one the road passes through. It is the lcoation of Old Oraibi. It was said to be founded in about 1150 and is said to be the oldest continually occupied village in North America, although many Native American villages make a similar claim. In any case, it is extremely orthodox and conservative and does not generally welcome visitors.

Second Mesa is the Home of the Hopi Cultural Center, which includes a restaurant, hotel, arts and crafts co-op, Hopi museum and a handful of small galleries or shops.

Second Mesa ia very important to me. I often feel it is a spiritual center of the universe for me, even though I have no Hopi blood that I know of. Perhaps the power of a place can transcend tribal affiliations.

In any case, the importance of Second Mesa to me is underscored by an experience I had on my first visit there. We had driven to Hopi from Flagstaff. We visited the arts and crafts co-op which was packed with Hopi jewelry, pottery and paintings. (It appears to have since fallen into disfavor with Hopi artists and has very little material on display; very sad for me).

While there I saw a painting by Milland Lomakema that captured my fancy.

It was a Mondrianesque representation of the Second Mesa Cultural Center. Driving back to Flagstaff, I was seized by the compulsion to own that painting. Susanne allowed me to turn around and drive back to Second Mesa just to buy the painting.
It now hangs on the wall of my living room, a small piece of Second Mesa in my home.

Back to the trip, we stopped at the Cultural Center for breakfast. I had blue corn pancakes. I always have blue corn pancakes when in Hopi. Susanne also had the blue corn pancakes, but Melissa chose French toast. Not much was left on our plates so I concluded every one else enjoyed theirs as much as I enjoyed mine.

After breakfast, we spent a few minutes walking the area. Susanne and I have stayed in the motel more than once. This time, however, it was a quick tour of the two open shops and the museum before moving on.

We did see a necklace we admired in one of the shops.

Buying it would have exceeded our sensibility about a fair price. So, lacking the storekeeper's willilngness to deal, we moved on.

Driving out of Second Mesa, we passed the entrance road to First Mesa, the home to the legendary community of Walpi. Founded in the 1600s, it exists today largely as it did hundreds of years ago. It has been the location for many photos of Hopi people.

At the foot of First Mesa is Keam's Canyon, with a grocery store, restaurant and McGee's Trading Post. We know the owners and respect them as knowledgable and fair people. Then, it is up the canyon side again to head east through pine forests to Window Rock.

But first we pass Hubbell's Trading Post, famous for the founding owner's contributions to the Navajo blanket and rug trade.

Soon we reached Window Rock. It is a thriving Navajo community and headquarters for the tribe. Not far beyond we reached Gallup and I-40 (nee the famous Route 66, where I got some kicks years before the Interstate System was completed)

From Gallup, Susanne drove east to Albuquerque.

Ironically, one of Susanne's favorite geological phenomena is the lava beds left from volcanic activity centuries ago. The windrows of stoney, black lava line the road. They are fascinating to see and have created numerous ice caves beneath thier crests. The irony is that Sue was looking forward to sharing that visual experience with Melissa. Alas, both Melissa and I slept almost all the way to Albuquerque. So much for early rising.

In Albuquerque, we stayed at the Rio Grande Best Western motel on the west end of town. Susanne and I had stayed there more than once in the past. It had been seriously upgraded since then and was quite comfortable, swimming pool and all. The only disappointment was that the AAA guide we relied on to determine the current status of the place said it served a complimentary breakfast.

When we went to the restaurant the next morning, we were told the complimentary breakfast had been discontinued but hotel guests received a 20% duscount off their breakfast check. I hate to be chintzy, but that just didn't seem right to me. If you promise something or it is promised on your behalf, you should deliver it. I know that is what we do with our tribal arts business.

So, if you are traveling through Albuquerque and consider stopping at the Rio Grande Inn, book directly with them and ask questions concerning what has been promised and what is likely to be delivered.

We had dinner the night before at the restaurant at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. This facility has seriously upgraded since our last visit. It now includes a pleasant outdoor terrace on which to dine. The aftrnoon we were there , however, it was much too hot to eat outside. July in New Mexico after all. What would we expect?

Previous visits to the IPCC no alcohol was served.

We thought things were the same since there was no wine list. We were half way through our meal when we noticed what appeared to be a beer on a neighboring table.

So we asked.

Yes, they had recently received a license to serve alcohol and wine was available. So we imbibed. It was one of those, "if you don't ask, you won't know" incidents. Assume nothing.

The IPCC gallery and shop is a wonderful place to experience Pueblo native crafts and art.

We walked Melissa through the rooms and described whatever she asked about.

The next day (after the breakfast we felt cheated about) we drove up to Santa Fe. We took Melissa to see the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. The exhibit there, which we did not know about before hand, was of drawings created by well-known Indian artists of today, when they were students in the Indian School.

Fascinating to see the talent of these masters when they were mere art students.

The pictures had the added value of depicting home life for the students.

We did not overnight in Santa Fe since we were a long way from Salt Lake City and had just two days to get there for our flight home.

Instead, we headed north through Durango and on through some of the most beautiful Rockies scenery, complete with incredibly twisty roads and surprising views. Our next stop was to be Montrose, Colorado. We arrived early in the afternoon, checked into a new Days Inn, to which we referred when we had called another Montrose motel and they were filled. Cooperation among theoretic competitors serves everyone and is to be applauded and encouraged.

Crass commercial break: We always refer people to other companies if we don't have what they are looking for or we can't answer their question - and we get lots of questions we can't answer.

Dinner in Montrose was at a local Chinese buffet. (I know. I know. But I love Chinese food, which I am pretty sure is made here. Altough, on a steam table you sometimes wonder.)

Anyway, as a new or newly remodelled motel, the Days Inn in Montrose was a very comfortable stay and included a
real complimentary breakfast.

The next morning we continued our drive north to Salt Lake City.

By this time connected to I-15, with its HOV lane, which we used effectively. Looking for lodging near the airport - e had a morning flight - we had found the SkyHarbor Inn. We had reserved a night's stay, again using AAA.

When we showed up, they had no record of our reservation. Fortunately, I had an email print out verifying that we had booked. Still. much rig-a-ma-role. Call the manager. Wait in the lobby. Check with AAA. A whole lot of delay after a long drive. The general feeling was that we were incidental to the business, not important to it.

Finally, they relented and put us into a unit.

Sky Harbor is a condo hotel, meaning the units generally are owned by individuals and placed in the condo association rental pool. The unit was okay. The problem was that it was on the second floor, up a long steep flight of stairs, with a loft up another flight.

We had to schlep everything up the stairs in order to get organized for the next days flight. This was not good news for a guy with a bad knee after days of traipsing through park lands.

On the plus side, there was a nice pool and fitness center, albeit a fair hike form our unit. Internet service is important to us. They had advertised wireless. But it wasn't inthe rooms. It was in the fitness center/pool area. Another Sky Harbor disappointment.

Anyway, we were up the next morning, got to the airport with plenty of time to turn in our rental car and check in for our flight.

Shortly, we were airborne and on our way back to Chicago to deliver Melissa to her eager parents.

Quite an adventure. We even got into some Native American tribal culture and art. How else could we, with four web sites featuring tribal art -,, Native-PotteryLInk .com and - have ended the trip?

Future issues of Tribal Artery will focus more on that subject.

I hope these digressions were interesting enough to justify their existence. Thank you.