SANTA FE, N.M. — Native American artists have criticized a plan that would impose more regulations on sales of their jewelry at New Mexico’s historic Palace of the Governors museum in Santa Fe.
The Native American artists said Monday that the proposed changes are burdensome and disruptive to existing rules, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports .
Proposed changes by the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs address topics ranging from day-to-day vendor oversight to which artists can sell their goods in front of the historic building at its portal, a shaded entryway area with wood-hewn columns.
Those changes could add four pages to the existing seven pages of regulations.
Seth McFarland, operations director at the museum and coordinator of the portal program, declined comment on why the new rules were drafted.
Native American artists, who have long resisted attempts by non-Native Americans to sell similar jewelry and crafts in the plaza, said they didn’t see a reason for changes from existing rules.
“Our old regulations and guidelines are still real good and we go by them,” said Rodey Guerro, a Navajo artist. “We don’t (want) anybody telling us to run things differently.”
The building’s portal is reserved for the sale of Native American crafts to preserve the culture of New Mexico’s pueblo and tribal cultures.
Existing regulations state only that the applicants must demonstrate their craft for the director of the Palace of the Governors and one or more committee members.
The draft regulations state applicants must demonstrate their crafts at their residences, using their own tools, for at least two committee members.
The committee members who examine their skills cannot not be related to the applicants, according to the draft. The proposals also include a call for a formal report on applicants’ demonstrations and allow for second demonstrations.
The draft regulations also create three tiers of rule violations. They range from being absent from an assigned site at the portal to selling unauthorized products to sexual harassment and criminal conduct. Proposed penalties range from a two-week suspension from the portal for a minor violation to banishment for a third serious offense.
“It seems like a set of rules aimed at a penal colony rather than an artists’ community,” said Michael Gorman, a Navajo silversmith and chairman of the portal committee.
McFarland said the museum tried to involve the portal committee since the changes were first contemplated in 2016. He said the museum didn’t receive any written comments after the proposed rule changes were published in newspapers.
Committee members spoke out on the proposals on Monday.
The museum board of regents is expected to vote on the proposed changes in May.