Quest for Authenticity - U.S. Government Hallmarks on Native American Silver, 1938-1941: Short-Term Project; Long-Term Impact

Today, most Native American jewelry, hollowware and flatware is identified by artist’s initials, names or symbols that are stamped or etched onto their creations. However, that has not always been the case. In the 1920s only a few Native Americans marked their work with their initial(s), name or personal symbol. The story of how the custom of marking items became widespread is a remarkable journey in a quest for authenticity and assurance of genuine craftsmanship that continues to this day. Beginning around 1900, a sharp increase in tourism in the American Southwest was stimulated by new railroad service across the United States. Coupled with creative marketing and promotion by the Fred Harvey Company, the pressure was on Native American silversmiths in the Southwest to produce an ever-increasing volume of silver products to meet tourist demand. 

The expanded demand for Indian jewelry did not go without notice, and others sought to capitalize on the Harvey success. Non-Indian craft “factories” were established in California, Colorado, New Mexico, New York and elsewhere, producing silver jewelry and other objects for the new tourist trade. The H. H. Tammen Company in Denver, Colorado, founded in 1910, manufactured machine-made “Indian-made” jewelry. The Arrow Novelty of New York in 1919, Southwest Arts & Crafts in Santa Fe, NM, Maisel’s Indian Trading Post in 1924 in Albuquerque, NM, and Sun Bell in 1935, all competed with authentic Native American handmade jewelry.

Many manufacturing operations marketed their wares as “authentic hand-made by Indians” or “hand-crafted by Indians,” or similar wording, thereby implying that their products were made by Native Americans using hand tools only. But, all these companies used assembly line practices, including machines, and some employed no or few Indians in the manufacturing process, producing a cheaper product at a lower price. 

Curio dealers printed and distributed brochures and pamphlets featuring designs such as whirling logs, thunderbirds, arrows and horses and gave symbolic meaning to them, a practice some declared “sales promotion rather than fact.” The largest manufacturer of Indian style silver in California was the Pacific Jewelry Company in Santa Monica. They wholesaled machine and hand-stamped jewelry as “Indian Type” to retailers. Similar suppliers in California included the Oliver Manufacturing Company in Los Angeles and the Turquoise Jewelry Company in Santa Barbara. 

By the early 1930s, virtually all silver produced by Indian artists destined for the tourist trade was ordered by Indian traders and tourist destinations. Native American silversmiths even had international competition. A town in Japan reportedly re-named itself “Reservation” so that jewelry could be marketed in the United States as “reservation made.” In the Philippines, where much Southwestern-style jewelry is still made, there is a town with the name of Zuni. 

The impact of unfair competition from machine-made, mass-produced imitation “Native American” jewelry, coupled with general economic trauma brought on by the Great Depression, was devastating to Native American jewelers and their communities on the reservations. In 1927, Secretary of the Interior Hubert Work sponsored an independent investigation, and in 1928 “The Meriam Report” recommended that the quality of products (Indian handicrafts) “should be standardized and their genuineness guaranteed.” Harold Ickes, the next Secretary of the Interior, chose James Young of Chicago to make recommendations with respect to Indian arts and crafts issues. In 1934, “The Young Report of the Committee on Indian Arts and Crafts” included language calling for a mark to identify genuine and quality silver-work and jewelry. 

These reports bolstered the idea that promoting Native American art as hand-crafted and authentic, as evidenced by a government hallmark so attesting, would differentiate those products in the market place, stimulate interest and support, warrant higher purchase prices and provide a much-needed boost to the economy. 

The U.S. Department of the Interior's Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB), picked up the baton. The IACB’s efforts to stamp Native American silver with quality and identity marks would underpin design integrity and artisanship among the tribes and enhance economic returns to the silversmiths and the tribes. 

On March 9, 1937, the Indian Arts and Crafts Board mobilized the first organized effort to introduce official stamps on handmade Indian silver. IACB released the following two documents explaining its government stamp program. It took another full year before the first piece of jewelry was marked with an official government stamp.

Indian Arts and Crafts Board
Navajo, Pueblo, and Hopi Silver
"In announcing its standards for the Government mark for Navajo, Pueblo, and Hopi silver and turquoise products, the Indian Arts and Crafts Board makes the following statement: Navajo, Hopi, and Pueblo silver work, as an art and as a product with a “quality” market, has been overwhelmed by machine production. The Indian craftsman, struggling to compete in price with the machine-made and factory-made imitations, has in turn been forced to adopt a machine technique, while at the same time his wages or earnings have been depressed to the “sweat-shop” level. Quality has been sacrificed to that extreme  where Indian jewelry has become hardly more than a curio or a souvenir. 
   There is being produced, though in relatively small quantity, Indian silver and turquoise work as fine as ever produced in the older days. And there are many Indian craftsmen who, if a quality market can be restored, will eagerly and capably produce work as good as the best of earlier times. 
   They cannot, however, produce it in price competition with factory output, machine output, and “bench-work” semi machine output. 
   The Arts and Crafts Board has studied the situation thoroughly and has sought the counsel of Indians, of Indian traders, and of specialists in the marketing of craft products. The Board has reached the conclusion that the Government mark should be applied only to the finest quality of wholly genuine, truly hand-fashioned, and authentic Indian silver and turquoise products. Use of the Government mark is not obligatory on any Indian, any factory, or any merchant. 
   The Board has no power or purpose to forbid such production by time-saving method and with machine stereotyped and stinted material as now supplies the curio market. But for that production which is worthy of a fine Indian tradition, the Board will make available the Government certificate of genuineness and of quality; and the Board will seek to widen the existing “quality” market and to find new markets for such output as deserves the Government mark. In the measure of its success, the Board will help to bring about a larger reward for a greater number of Indian craftsmen, and to save from destruction a noble, historic art, which under the right conditions can have a long future." 

March 9, 1937
John Collier, Chairman


Subject to the detailed requirements that follow, the Government stamp shall be affixed only to work individually produced and to work entirely hand-made. No object produced under conditions resembling a bench-work system, and no object in whose manufacture any power-driven machinery has been used, shall be eligible for the use of the Government stamp. In detail, Indian silver objects, to merit the Government stamp of genuineness, must meet the following specifications:

(1) Material. Silver slugs of 1-ounce weight or other silver objects may be used, provided their fineness is at least 900; and provided further, that no silver sheet shall be screws for earrings; backs for tie clasps and chain, which may be of silver of different fineness and mechanically made.
(2) Dies. Dies used are to be entirely hand-made, with no tool more mechanical than hand tools and vice. Dies shall contain only a single element of the design.
(3) Application of Dies. Dies are to be applied to the object with the aid of nothing except hand tools.
(4) Appliqué elements in design. All such parts of the ornament are to be hand-made. If wire is used, it is to be hand-made with no other than a hand-made draw plate. These requirements apply to the boxes for stone used in the design.
(5) Stone for ornamentation. In addition to turquoise, the use of other stone is permitted. Turquoise, if used, must be genuine stone, uncolored by any artificial means.
(6) Cutting of stone. All stone used, including turquoise, is to be hand-cut and polished. This permits the use of hand- or foot-driven wheels.
(7) Finish. All silver is to be hand polished.

For the present the Arts and Crafts Board reserves to itself the sole right to determine what silver, complying with the official standards, shall be stamped with the Government mark.

John Collier, Chairman, Approved March 9, 1937
Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior


A month later, IACB's Director René d'Harnoncourt embarked on a fast-moving, complicated and difficult struggle to implement the new policies and stamp the first piece of silver with the new Government stamp. d"Harnoncourt was the right person, at the right time, to get the job done. René d’Harnoncourt was a veteran in the native North American art world, having spent years in Mexico assembling and organizing large public collections of Mexican folk art. His experience reinforced a deeply held commitment to stimulating public appreciation for authentic native crafts in the United States. The fundamental principle undergirding this ambitious effort was that an official stamp on silver jewelry handcrafted by Indians would instill consumer confidence in its authenticity and distinguish it from less expensive non-Indian imitations. As well, imitation jewelry would be barred from sales-rooms in gift shops on federal property, including national parks. On April 2, 1937, the following new standards were quickly included in the following U.S. Code of Federal Regulations and reinforced by penalties: 

§ 304.1 The use of Government trade-marks in an unauthorized manner, or the
colorable imitation of such marks, is subject to the criminal penalties imposed by  
section 5 of the said act (49 Stat. 892; 25 U.S.C. 305d).
§ 304.2 All dies used to mark silver will be provided by and owned by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.
§ 304.3 For the present the Indian Arts and Crafts Board reserves to itself the sole right to judge what silver complying with its standards shall bear the Government mark. All such marking of silver shall, for the present, be done by an agent of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.
§ 304.4 No piece of silver, though made in compliance with the standards set forth by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, shall bear the Government mark unless: (a) Its weight is substantially in accord with Indian usage and custom; (b) design elements are substantially in accord with Indian usage and tradition, and, c) Its workmanship is substantially that expected in good hand craftsmanship
§ 304.5 Dies are marked with name of tribe. A Navajo stamp will be used where the maker is a Navajo Indian; similarly, for Zuni, Hopi, and Rio Grande Pueblo. 
§ 304.6 All dies will be numbered, and each wholesaler or dealer will be held responsible for any violation of standards in silver that bears his mark. Until such time as the Board relinquishes its sole right to mark silver, the responsibility of the dealer for whom silver is marked will be confined to misrepresentations as to quality of silver and of stones used to ornament and to methods of production.


The initial program proved to include a number of logistical challenges, including the necessity of significant amount of travel. The Board’s only stamps were located at the newly created Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe, NM. Jewelry had to be sent there to be examined and stamped, or an agent would visit reservations or other facilities to examine, approve and stamp acceptable jewelry. Stamped items were allowed to be sold through outlets at national parks and other federal locations. The stamps were to read U.S. NAVAJO, U.S. ZUNI, U.S. HOPI and U.S. R. G. PUEBLO (U.S. Rio Grande Pueblo), and were to include an assigned maker, trader or wholesaler.

Between 1935 and the spring of 1938, when the first IACB stamp was officially used, d’Harnoncourt spent his time traveling between Washington DC and the southwest. Letters, telegrams and notes exchanged between d’Harnoncourt, his staff in Washington and the field staffs reveal fascinating specifics of implementing the official silver stamping program.

In the West, the IACB contracted Kenneth M. “Chap” Chapman, Director of the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe, NM, to act as IACB’s agent in the new program. d’Harnoncourt also hired the highly regarded silversmiths Ambrose Roanhorse and Chester Yellowhair from the Albuquerque Indian School in 1937 to facilitate program acceptance among trading posts and with Native American silversmiths. Both silversmiths were strong advocates of a return to basic Native American silver-smithing using traditional technology and design. The new team visited the field locations on behalf of IACB, and reported frequently on the status of silver making activities and shared their observations on the utility of the new stamps.

Chapman tested the first set of die stamps in early December 1937. Ambrose Roanhorse raised a number of issues. He complained the early die stamps damaged the silver objects being marked. He also suggested to d’Harnoncourt that smaller stamps be used, possibly with US N, US H, US P, US Z, and that each letter should be applied with a separate stamp. d’Harnoncourt agreed and asked Roanhorse to manufacture the stamps. Chapman reported to d’Harnoncourt that Roanhorse had made the stamps and suggested the addition of a small symbol (a naja, or crescent, on a squash blossom necklace) to replace the “N” for Navajo. The Roanhorse-made prototype stamps worked well, but Roanhorse rejected the naja-squash blossom stamp option as an inappropriate symbol.

D’Harnoncourt then consulted with Tiffany’s on the use of die stamps on silver, and ordered two sets of official IACB stamps from the William A. Force Co. in New York. One set was for use on flat surfaces and the other for use on curved (ring) surfaces. Each set was to include individual stamps for U.S. NAVAJO, U.S. HOPI, U.S. ZUNI, U.S. R.G. PUEBLO (Rio Grande Pueblo) and 0 - 9 for numbers.

Anticipation of the availability of the stamps and the launching of the stamping program created a large backlog of unstamped silver throughout Southwestern Indian Country. Dealers there (and elsewhere) complained to René d’Harnoncourt who, on March 15, 1938, explained the delay and advised them that soon they will be able to get silver with a government mark from any of the large dealers in the Southwest, “such as Gallup Mercantile, Gross Kelley & Co., Gallup, Fred Harvey Indian Department, Albuquerque, or C.G. Wallace, Zuni NM.” 


Figure 1. Examples of IACB stamps.



The stamps were to remain the property of the IACB, but issued to agents of the Board. Just a few weeks later, d’Harnoncourt ordered that the stamps made by the William A. Force Co. should be mailed from New York to IACB in Washington DC, and from there forwarded to Kenneth Chapman at the Laboratory of Anthropology. 

Finally, on April 6, 1938, René d’Harnoncourt announced the availability of the official marks. In a letter written on stationery of the El Navajo (Fred Harvey) hotel in Gallup, NM, d’Harnoncourt asked Ethel Perry, IACB staff in Washington DC, to:

“Please give this memo to the Commissioner: At last silver project initiated. The first pieces were stamped at the Indian School in Santa Fe yesterday. On April 11, Chapman with Ambrose Roans assistance will start marking the traders silver in Gallup. Everybody seems pleased.”


Figure 2. Bracelet stamped U.S. Navajo 2. C. G. Wallace Trading Post.


Figure 3. Pin stamped U.S. Zuni 1. Photo Karen Sires.



Figure 4. Bracelet stamped with U.S. Zuni 1. C. G. Wallace Trading Post.




A report of the IACB would later note that both Ambrose Roanhorse and Dooley Shorty from the Fort Wingate Vocational School helped Chapman inspect (and likely stamp) silver. Only three weeks later Chapman reported that he had stamped 2,322 pieces as follows: 

  • Gallup Mercantile Co. 1,016 pieces (US Navajo 1 & US Zuni 11) 
  • C.G. Wallace Trading Post. 727 pieces (US Navajo 2 & US Zuni 1)
  • B. I. Staples. 13 pieces (US Navajo 3)
  • Fred Harvey Co. 194 pieces (US Navajo 4 & US Zuni 4)
  • Kelsey Indian Trading Co. 170 pieces (US Navajo 5 & US Zuni 5)
  • Albuquerque Indian School. 122 pieces (US Navajo 50)
  • Santa Fe Indian School. 80 pieces (US Navajo 60)
Chapman also reported that the numbers 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 were reserved for the U.S. Indian Schools located in Albuquerque, Crown Point, Ft. Wingate, Santa Fe, Shiprock and Tuba City. At d’Harnoncourt’s urging, Chapman, Roanhorse, Dooley Shorty and a third individual (probably Chester Yellowhair) traveled to visit traders to examine and stamp silver jewelry. From April through August of 1938, Chapman and his team traveled to Gallup, Zuni and elsewhere to stamp jewelry and assign stamp numbers. Zuni numbers two through nine were reserved for individuals, firms or traders at Zuni or in Gallup handling items coming from the Zuni silversmiths. It appears that Zuni 2, 7, 8 and 9 were unassigned. Likewise, stamps for Hopi and for the Rio Grande Pueblos were fabricated and arrived in New Mexico, but they were apparently neither assigned nor used. Use of the U. S. Hopi stamp may have been side-lined or postponed because of IACB rules prohibiting the use of sheet or rolled silver in the fabrication of overlay jewelry, a product being promoted as an important new Hopi style. The assigned (and unassigned) IACB stamps numbers are:

  • US NAVAJO 1 Gallup Mercantile Co., Gallup, NM Charles Ilfeld Co.) 
  • US NAVAJO 2 C. G. Wallace, Zuni, NM
  • US NAVAJO 3 B. I. Staples, Coolidge, NM
  • US NAVAJO 4 The Fred Harvey Co. (regional)
  • US NAVAJO 5 The Kelsey Indian Trading Co., Zuni, NM, or, The Pueblo Indian Arts and Crafts Market
  • US NAVAJO 6 Zuni Trading Post; Robert Wallace, Zuni, NM
  • US NAVAJO 7 Unknown or unassigned
  • US NAVAJO 8 Unknown or unassigned
  • US NAVAJO 9 Unknown or unassigned
  • US NAVAJO 10 Tuba City Indian School
  • US NAVAJO 11 J. M. Drolet (Trader) 
  • US NAVAJO 20 Shiprock Indian School
  • US NAVAJO 30 Crown Point Indian School
  • US NAVAJO 40 Fort Wingate Indian School
  • US NAVAJO 50 Albuquerque Indian School
  • US NAVAJO 60 Santa Fe Indian School
  • US NAVAJO 70 Navajo Arts & Crafts Guild (Fort Wingate)
  • US ZUNI 1 C. G. Wallace, Zuni, NM
  • US ZUNI 2 Unknown or unassigned
  • US ZUNI 4 The Fred Harvey Co. (regional)
  • US ZUNI 5 The Kelsey Indian Trading Co.,Zuni, NM, or, The Pueblo Indian Arts and  Crafts Market
  • US ZUNI 6 Zuni Trading Post; Robert Wallace, Zuni, NM
  • US ZUNI 7 Unknown or unassigned 
  • US ZUNI 8 Unknown or unassigned
  • US ZUNI 9 Unknown or unassigned
  • US ZUNI 10 Reserved for use by Indian school at Zuni, NM 
  • US ZUNI 11 Gallup Mercantile Co., Gallup, NM (Charles Ilfeld Co.)
  • US HOPI Unassigned
  • US RG PUEBLO Unassigned 

Soon, the frustrating delays of a centralized system became apparent. On May 11, 1938, Chapman reported that 4,000 pieces had been examined and about 2,500 had been stamped. The examination and stamping process was limited. There were not enough stamp sets and only one official Chapman (although Roanhorse, Yellowhair and Shorty helped him) to do the stamping. 

Silversmiths and dealers complained about delays getting their silver stamped, while others called for more comprehensive solutions. Arthur Woodward, of the Los Angeles County Museum, suggested a stamp dating system that included year-of-manufacture, and that records be kept at a central facility, thus creating a hallmark system for the long haul.

However, even the best and most well-intentioned effort to stamp could not keep pace with demand. Silversmiths, dealers and traders complained increasingly they couldn't get their silver stamped in a timely manner. Gift shops on federal property were impacted as well. C. G. Wallace, trader at Zuni, alerted the Indian Craft Shop at the Department of the Interior in Washington, DC, that:

“(I have) to buy a lot of jewelry at Zuni and can’t get it stamped, or it won’t take a stamp, due to (its) construction” and that the shop “won’t be seeing any government stamped jewelry.”

The IACB responded to such inquiries about stamped jewelry sources by distributing lists of retail dealers and wholesale houses and adding to the list of outlets. A typical IACB response is the example sent to H. L. Moore & Co:

“All of the Indian Schools mentioned, as well as the two wholesale dealers listed, are
in a position to supply hand-made jewelry bearing the Government mark…Santa Fe
Indian School, Albuquerque Indian School, Wingate Vocational School, and Gallup
Mercantile Co., and C. G. Wallace, Zuni.”

On September 6, 1939, IACB’s Ethel Perry added the Kelsey Trading Company as a government - recognized wholesaler source of marked silver. Soon thereafter, others urged that Ambrose Roanhorse be given the authority to “use” the government stamp at the newly organized Fort Wingate Silversmith Guild, an organization soon to evolve into the Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild.

                  Figure 5. Pins. U.S. Navajo 40 (top & center); U.S. Navajo 60 (bottom) 

The shortcomings of the IACB stamping program fueled alternative efforts to validate, promote and protect quality in Indian silver manufacture. The Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild was soon formed. The United Indian Traders Association worked quickly to establish a label tag, and would soon create its own membership-driven stamping system. Many UITA dealers and traders had already “given up” on the IACB program when the next major obstacles to further organizational development appeared--World War II, and silver shortages.

The pace of IACB’s authenticating and stamping effort slowed dramatically and even René d’Harnoncourt realized that the program was nearing its end. In a letter to John Adair in March of 1940, he wrote:

“The stamping of silver is being continued on a small scale in Zuni, in the schools, and among such traders as wish to submit their silver. Mr. Chapman is still in charge of the selection, but the volume of silver submitted outside the schools is very limited.”

By this time, Ambrose Roanhorse had arranged for a salesroom for the Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild, where he sold finished silver from the Guild and from the school. Stamping with the IACB die sets may very well eventually have been quietly “ceded” to Ambrose Roanhorse in mid-1940. Stamps were sent to Roanhorse by Kenneth Chapman and, on May 8, 1940, Arthur Woodward reported that indians were now taking their own initiative to identify their jewelry:

“I know that many Indian smiths, not working in either of the schools where the silver is now stamped by the school, are issuing objects bearing their own initials. They have adopted this system upon their own initiative.”

In 1941, d’Harnoncourt filed a six-page typewritten report, “Activities of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board Since its Organization in 1936,” in which he summarized IACB's major accomplishments between 1936 and 1941. For the period 1936-37, he described the establishment of standards for silver. For the 1937-38 period, the report noted that the “marking of silver, in accordance with the standards previously established by the Board, was initiated in the spring of 1938.”

Chapman’s last recorded use of the IACB stamp was on three items made at the Santa Fe Indian School and stamped on June 1, 1943. Even as the end of the IACB stamp program was coming, its value had won over many UITA members. Many traders told d’Harnoncourt that they had purged their inventories of non-Indian made silver from their inventories and were now using trademarks and guarantees.

On March 12, 1940, John Adair wrote to René d’Harnoncourt asking, among other things, if the Hopi or Rio Grande stamps “are or have been used.” d’Harnoncourt’s response doesn't respond specifically to Adair’s question. On March 13, 1941, IACB’s Ethel Perry added the Pueblo Indian Arts and Crafts Guild as a source of Government stamped silver. However, the IACB’s U.S. HOPI and U.S. RG PUEBLO stamps were apparently never used in an official capacity.

The Indian Arts and Crafts Board could not enforce the program it started and gradually withdrew from the effort. However, the effort was picked up by the Navajo and Hopi guilds and by the UITA in 1946. Official use of IACB stamps apparently ended quietly in 1943. On January 22, 1944, René d’Harnoncourt submitted his resignation as General Manager of IACB. He was to become Vice President of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. 

The IACB stamping initiative failed because it did not adapt to the size and structure of the marketplace, and was essentially unenforceable. However, it cannot be considered a failure because the program’s own shortcomings fostered a new appreciation of the economic benefits of stamped and identifiable silver, leading to organized efforts outside and within the tribes to create silver artisan quality and authenticity programs for Native American silver.

The Navajo Arts and Crafts Guild was formed in 1941, the United Indian Traders Association launched its own authenticity project in 1946, the Hopi Silver Craft Guild began after WWII in 1949, and in 1967 the Zuni Craftsmen Cooperative Association started operations. All of these organizations were dedicated to authenticity and quality assurance.


Figure 6. Bracelet stamped U.S. Navajo 60. Santa Fe Indian School. Photo Karen Sires.


While the convention of marking jewelry for purposes of authentication is now commonly accepted in Indian Country, other issues have emerged in the continuing quest for authenticity. Accelerated global trade has brought more imitation jewelry into the country; copying of marks and artists signatures continues. It is still necessary for collectors and enforcers to be diligent in their efforts to identify authentic items. The IACB is still active in promoting authentic Native American arts, and states that:

“While beauty, quality and collectability of authentic Indian arts and crafts make each piece a unique reflection of our American heritage, it is important that buyers be aware that fraudulent Indian arts and crafts compete daily with authentic Indian arts and crafts in the nationwide marketplace.”

                                  Figure 7. Logo of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board





1. Adair, John. The Navajo and Pueblo Silversmiths. 1944. The University of Oklahoma Press. Norman, OK.

2. Batkin, Jonathan. The Native American Curio Trade in New Mexico. 2008. Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. Santa Fe, NM.

3. Baxter, Paula A. Southwest Silver Jewelry. 2001. Schiffer Publishing Ltd. Atglen, PA.

4. Chapman, Janet and Karen Barrie. Kenneth Milton Chapman: A Life Dedicated to Indian Arts and Artists. 2008. Univ. of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque, NM.

5. Hougart, Bille. Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks. 3rd Edition. 2016. TBR, International. Washington, D.C.

6. King, Dale Stuart. Indian Silver. Volume Two. 1976. Dale Stuart King. Tucson, AZ.

7. Lund, Marsha Mayer. Indian Jewelry: Fact and Fantasy. 1976. Paladin Press. Boulder, CO.

8. Meyn, Susan Larry. More than Curiosities: A Grassroots History of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and its Precursors, 1920-1942. 2001. Lex. Books. Lanham, MD.

9. Osler, James, Marian Rodee and Milford Nahohai. Zuni: A Village of Silversmiths. 1996. Schiwi Publishing and the University of New Mexico, NM.

10. Schrader, Robert Fay. The Indian Arts & Crafts Board: An Aspect of New Deal Indian Policy. 1983. The University of New Mexico Press. Albuquerque, NM.

11. Tanner, Clara Lee. Southwest Indian Craft Arts. 1968. The University of Arizona Press. AZ.


Author: Figures 1, 2, 4, 5

Karen Sires: Figures 3 & 6

Indian Arts and Crafts Board: Figure 7 


Report possible fraudulent Indian arts and crafts commerce to the IACB (1-888-278-3253; I-report-potential-violation)

Bille Hougart is author of The Little Book of Mexican Silver Trade and Hallmarks and Native American and Southwestern Silver Hallmarks. He lives in Washington, DC
This article was originally published in Silver Magazine in the January/February 2018 issue (Volume L, Issue 1)




  • Just Purchased a great early pair of Navajo Mocassins with two silver buttons on each. On inspecting the Mocs I found the mark “US Navajo 40” stamped under each domed button. One button had a Swastika on the button as well.
    I nor the seller had any idea what the mark meant until I found this article.
    Thanks !

  • Thank you Bille Hougart for sharing. This is an important article on the history and the significance of the marking and signing of the Native American jewelry industry.

    Steve Weisman
  • Bille Hougart has made a dry subject very interesting! The fight for authenticity continues.

    Deborah Neal

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