What You Need To Know About Online Auctions Of American Indian Art

Posted on: 19 December 2022

American Indian or Native American art is stunning, and having a painting or another item in your home is a marvelous way to add more visual interest. Online auctions often have several items for you to bid on, but with Native American art, you need to be aware of a couple of issues.

Look for Auction Houses That Work Directly With Native American Nations

You will find auctions that offer items from people's estates or collections that might contain Native American art. You'll also find auctions that offer art directly from contemporary artists. Whenever you can, go with the auctions of contemporary art that the auction house got straight from the artists. These items can be paintings, sculptures, and many other forms of art. These types of auctions benefit the artists directly. If you buy something from a collector or an estate (through the auction), that money doesn't go back to the Native community unless the person who sent it to the auction house is Native.

Familiarize Yourself With the Site Before the Auction

Auctions can be fast or slow, and online auctions really aren't that different. You can find plenty where bids are offered over a series of hours or days, and you can take your time in offering a bid. There are also live auctions where you have to stay on your toes to make sure you get the items you want. Before the auction starts, especially if it's a live auction, familiarize yourself with the site so that you know how to indicate that you want to bid on an item, and so that you know how to end your bidding and drop out of an auction. You do not want to find yourself caught by technical issues as you try to bid on something.

Look for Modern Art, and Beware of Misappropriated Items

American Indian or Native American art faces a particular problem in that some of the items floating around the auction house circuit are misappropriated (in other words, stolen at some point from people or locations). It is perfectly fine to buy an item that is up for auction if the item was sent to the auction house willingly by the tribe or nation that the item is from, and there are Native American artists who create works meant for sale. But if you come across auctions of Native American items or artworks that look like they may be older, verify with the auction house that they truly have permission to include those. If you suspect something is wrong or find an item that you think is misappropriated, contact the Association on American Indian Affairs.

Native American artists create wonderful art that often goes up for auction. If you want artworks that show Native American perspectives and interpretations, look at online Native American art auctions and see where they get their art from.

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