Washington family sold Philippine work as Alaska Native art

Three Washington state residents who operated several businesses in Ketchikan, Alaska, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Indian Arts and Crafts Act for the sale of Philippine produced stone carvings and wood totem poles as the work of Alaska Native artisans.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Juneau said on Monday that the violations by Cristobal “Cris” Magno Rodrigo, 59, Glenda Tiglao Rodrigo, 46, and Christian Ryan Tiglao Rodrigo, 24, occurred from April 2016 through December 8, 2021, at Alaska Stone Arts, LLC and Rail Creek, LLC.

The items were sourced from Glenda Rodrigo’s company, Rodrigo Creative Crafts, located in the Philippines. The firm was created for the sole purpose of producing carvings featuring Alaska Native designs and motifs through the use of Philippine labor. The carvings were shipped to the United States and subsequently to the Rodrigo’s stores in Ketchikan, and then sold to unsuspecting customers in Alaska and elsewhere as authentic Alaska Native art, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

As part of the conspiracy, the Rodrigos hired Alaska Natives at Alaska stone Arts, LLC and Rail Creek, LLC.

The investigation is ongoing, officials said.

The three defendants were arraigned and pled guilty on April 28 before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Matthew S. Scoble. If convicted, they face a maximum of 10 years in prison.

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A sentencing hearing is set for Aug. 17 before Senior District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess, who will determine any sentence after considering sentencing guideline and other statutory factors.

“This type of fraud directly affects Alaska Native artisans and their ability to make a living and is an affront to Alaska Native artists that have produced these beautiful works through the history of their culture,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker. “The United States Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners will continue to work to protect this cultural heritage, protect unwitting consumers, and prosecute and hold accountable those who perpetrate this type of fraud.”

Anyone who suspects potential Indian Arts and Crafts Act violations are being committed may submit a complaint through the Indian Arts and Crafts Board’s online complaint form www.doi.gov/iacb/should-i-report-potential-violation, email [email protected], or call toll free 888-278-3253.

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