Tlingit carver Archie Cavanaugh has been slapped with $2,005 worth of fines after he tried to sell two pieces of his art including feathers from birds covered by the Migratory Bird Treat Act – a law Cavanaugh and many others in Alaska had never heard of.
Anchorage Daily News’ Mike Dunham has the full story:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — For hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, Natives of Southeast Alaska have paid artisans to create tools, clothing and ceremonial regalia adorned with feathers.
So contemporary Tlingit carver Archie Cavanaugh was startled last month when U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service personnel told him that items he had advertised for sale violated federal laws. Specifically: a carved hat featuring the wings and tail of a raven, and a headdress, or “shakee.át,” topped with the feathers of a flicker, a robin-size relative of the woodpecker.
“They told me that under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act they can charge me up to $10,000 and throw me in jail for a couple of years,” Cavanaugh said. “And they told me that under the Lacey Act they can charge me up to $100,000 and put me in jail for 10 years. It was very scary. I went into complete depression.”
In shock, he removed the ads from the Internet sites where they’d been posted and took the feathers off the items. But that only seemed to make the problem worse.