WASHINGTON, D.C. — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. urges members of Congress to strengthen the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act by ensuring artists are citizens of federally recognized tribes.

During his remarks Thursday at Cherokee Days at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., Chief Hoskin urged Congress to strip the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act of language granting protection to members of state-recognized “tribes.”

“For generations, citizens of federally recognized tribes, including Cherokee Nation citizens, saw their language, culture and forms of artistic expression suppressed and eroded by the policies of the United States,” Chief Hoskin said. “Congress needs to put an end to the further erosion of our culture and lifeways by eliminating so-called state ‘tribes’ from federal protection. I know this is something all three federally recognized Cherokee tribes believe in: If you are going to be considered a Native American under federal law, particularly something as important as a law that protects Native artists, you ought to be an Indian, you ought to be a member of a federally recognized tribe. Together the three federally recognized Cherokee tribes can rally around this idea of protecting and celebrating our Native artists.”

Chief Hoskin’s remarks echoed a letter he sent members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Wednesday urging the law’s definition of “Indian” be clearly defined and prevent fraudulent groups from misrepresenting themselves as “Indian artisans.”

In his March 29 letter to the leadership of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senators Brian Schatz and Lisa Murkowski, Chief Hoskin wrote that “only works made by members of federally-recognized tribes can be called ‘Indian’ arts and crafts.”

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs encouraged tribes to submit comments on the Indian Arts and Crafts Act and the proposed ARTIST Act of 2023 by April 14.

Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner joined Chief Hoskin in a statement.

“The United States owes federally recognized tribes and citizens of tribal nations respect,” Deputy Chief Warner said. “I join Chief Hoskin in his call for stronger protections for our artists.”

Under the administration of Chief Hoskin and Deputy Chief Warner, Cherokee Nation has been aggressive in combating groups that fraudulently pose as Indian tribes. Each year the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service investigates claims of false citizenship. Chief Hoskin testifies against state-recognized tribes claiming to be Cherokee.

Three tribes, including the Cherokee Nation, are the only federally recognized Cherokee tribes in the United States. The Cherokee Nation’s tribal citizenship is rooted in history and law with a citizen proving a direct ancestor to the Dawes Roll.

“The law must be changed in order to protect actual Cherokee artists, artisans, and craftspeople  – those who are citizens of one of the three federally-recognized Cherokee tribes – and ensure their arts and crafts are the only works permitted to be presented as ‘Cherokee,’” Chief Hoskin wrote in his March 29 letter.

In his remarks at NMAI, Chief Hoskin noted that federal law can be a pathway for native tribes to become “part of the family of federally recognized tribes, including our brothers and sisters in Alaska.”

Chief Hoskin called on Cherokee citizens nationwide to urge Congress to strengthen the existing Indian Arts and Crafts Act through the proposed ARTIST Act of 2023.

Chief Hoskin urged Cherokee Nation citizens to write their member of Congress and Senators in support of the change by visiting https://www.cherokee.org/about-the-nation/citizen-action/ by April 14.

Download Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.'s letter to Congress