Posted on December 14, 2021

Two Seattle Artists Charged With Faking Native American Heritage

Rich Calder, New York Post, December 11, 2021

Two Washington state artists have been being charged with pretending to be Native American carvers to sell works at downtown Seattle galleries.

Lewis Anthony Rath, 52, and Jerry Chris Van Dyke, 67, were charged separately by the feds with violating the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which prohibits misrepresentation in the selling of American Indian or Alaska Native arts and crafts, authorities said Friday.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Rath falsely claimed to be part of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and Van Dyke pretended to be a member in the Nez Perce Tribe. The goods they put up for sale included masks, totem poles and pendants sold in 2019 at Raven’s Nest Treasure in Pike Place Market and at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop along Seattle’s waterfront, authorities said.

“By flooding the market with counterfeit Native American art and craftwork, these crimes cheat the consumer, undermine the economic livelihood of Native American artists, and impair Indian culture,” Edward Grace, assistant director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement, said in a news release.


Rath, of Maple Falls, Wash., is charged with four counts of misrepresentation of Indian-produced goods, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Van Dyke, of Seattle, faces two counts of the same crime. {snip}