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Pueblo and Navajo Indians, who are responsible for creating much of the “Indian Crafts” along Route 66, experience an employment rate that is below average for Native Americans across the country living on or near tribal lands.
The three tribes with the lowest employment rate are all in Arizona.
Turquoise mining would eventually explode, and sometime after 1880, the US Geological Survey reports, a white trader persuaded a Navajo craftsman to make turquoise and silver jewelry using coin silver.Manasra would be but one of two co-defendants to be sentenced for violations against the 80-year-old Indian Arts and Crafts Act.The conflict over misrepresented and counterfeit Native American goods, manifested in this watershed investigation, would reach its apex in August, when Nael Ali, a jewelry retailer in New Mexico, would receive the harshest punishment — and only prison sentence — to date for any violator of the act.By the 20th century, the kind of “Indian style” jewelry known today would attract Western-bound tourists who wanted to commemorate their travels along historic Route 66.(This, a gross glossing-over of the histories of systematic genocide, discrimination, and economic undermining of indigenous people in North America.) The result is the countless “Indian Crafts” billboards strewn across old Route 66 (now Interstate 40) leading to accessible rest stop-cum-gift shops that sell horsehair pottery and crescent moon-shaped turquoise necklaces.
(In the late ’90s, seven cases of violations against the act resulted in small fines under $10,000.) Most people agree that there’s no real way to completely stop the production of look-alike Native American jewelry, not dissimilar to the difficulty luxury fashion brands face when attempting to stymie fast-fashion copies.