Security Printing/Anticounterfeiting for Native Arts/Crafts
Security Printing to Combat Counterfeit Native Arts, Crafts, and Antiquities
The 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act prohibits individuals and businesses to distribute, sell, or offer for sale articles similar to Native American arts or crafts which was not manufactured by tribal member. However, the article “Historicizing the Growing Impoverishment of Native American Artisans” states “Over 80% of the 1.5 Billion in faux Native American products (baskets, pottery, and jewelry) are fabricated by non-natives and imported into the U.S. from Asia.” Tourism is a 3.7-billion-dollar economic driver for South Dakota. The Black Hills National Forest, Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands National Park, and Native American culture are forces in which contribute to approximately 40 percent of 2015 South Dakota tourism sales. However, it is not uncommon to find faux Native arts and crafts in tourism shops across the Black Hills. This occurs while the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota is one of the most impoverished areas in the nation with 47.4 percent of residents living below the poverty line.
The First Peoples Fund states 51 percent of Pine Ridge households depend on home-based enterprises for income and 79 percent of those home-based enterprise consist of some form of traditional arts. I am proposing to revolutionize how Native American arts and crafts are being sold through Security Printing and Anti-Counterfeiting Technology (SPACT). SPACT uses Vanadium upconverting nanoparticles which are undetectable until excited with a near-infrared laser. These nanoparticles are printed on substrates in the form of a quick response (QR) code. QR codes can store up to 4,000 alphanumerical characters, have track and trace features, and be linked directly to website. Authenticity can be verified when consumers scan the QR code with their smart phone and is linked to a Native American artists profile.
My project contains a campaign educating tourists on counterfeit artwork, how it impacts tribal artists, and how local tourist shops sell these items. SPACT is printed on Native arts, crafts, and antiquities so tourists and other consumers are ensured they’re purchasing authentic artwork. Currently, artisans operate independently to gain access to markets and distribution channels, advertise their work, etc. This technology can unify these “cottage industries” to manufacture arts and crafts and cater to the tourism industry; while deterring tourist shops from selling faux Native arts and crafts.
The Great Plains possesses numerous artists who would benefit from this technology. The biggest barrier of my project meeting more people is obtaining capital, preparing for growth, and creating economies of scale. Additionally, while South Dakota is a largest tourist town, this industry is only active during summer months. While I possess an engineering and management background, a barrier is reaching more consumers on behalf of Native American artists during non-seasonal times. Furthermore, I would assistance, or possible a procurement contract, from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to put judiciary teeth in enforcing the 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act.
Our pitch (video):
Our solution's stage of development:Prototype
Where our project is located:Rapid City, SD, USA
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Rapid City, SD, USA
How we use technology in our project:
This project uses vanadium nanoparticles which are “doped” (coated so the nanoparticles do not clump together). These nanoparticles are suspended in an ink formulation then printed on substrates in the form of a quick response (QR) code. The nanoparticles ink formula is undetectable to the naked eye until it is excited with a near-infrared laser. QR codes can store up to 4,000 alphanumerical characters, have track and trace features, and be linked directly to website. Authenticity can be verified when consumers scan the QR code with their smart phone and is linked to a Native American artist's profile.
What makes our project innovative:
SPACT is used to authenticate pharmaceuticals and electronics. An overlooked industry is Native American traditional arts and crafts. The First Peoples Fund states 51 percent of Pine Ridge households depend on home-based enterprises for income and 79 percent of those enterprises consist of traditional arts. Many artists sell, and consumers buy, artwork without knowing how faux Native American arts and crafts is impacting them. SPACT authenticates the artwork on behalf the seller and buyer. Furthermore, the QR code links the artwork to a profile to better educate the buyer on the artist, cultural significance of the item, copies made, etc.
How our project will be accessible and affordable to our community:
Security Printing can come in many forms. Using vanadium nanoparticles may not be feasible for all arts and crafts. Other ink formulations can be considered. Patented printers, ink formulations, and substrates can be sold to Native American artists, museums, and/or tribal offices. Upon verification of tribal enrollment, artists will create a profile and upload pictures/information of their items on an online database. Artists can pay for an account subscription. This will offset costs for marketing campaigns conducted on behalf of Native artists.
The only entities being entertained at this moment are the Journey Museum and The Heritage Center Museum (Red Cloud High School). Forensic analysis has been conducted on historic artifacts. Upon verifying authenticity of artifacts, a proof of concept has been shown to museum staff. Further development and consultation must be completed before one could consider security printing vanadium nanoparticle ink formulations on historic, invaluable artifacts. However, the proof of concept illustrates this technology is viable and ready for implementation for modern artists and new arts and crafts.
Our future project goals:
Upon year’s end, my goal is to have completed a strategic marketing initiative. This includes identifying, educating, and amplifying how faux Native American arts and crafts impacts our nation and local communities. I hope to educate tourists via ads, billboards, and social media campaigns of how counterfeit Native American artwork inhibits tribal citizens of impoverished communities from earning livable wages and achieving a decent livelihood. Furthermore, I hope to demonstrate how this is affecting the economic vitality of these tribal communities.
Why we are applying to Solve:
A Lakota Chief was not known for how much they obtain for themselves/family, but their ability to provide and lead their community. This project directly aligns with those values, mission, and vision. Additionally, this fellowship directly supports those same items. Solve can help accelerate this tech startup, provide me access to seasoned entrepreneurs, and possibly help me advance this research to achieve more viable ink formulations.
The organizations we are currently working with:
SPACT research for Dr. Jon Kellar and Dr. Grant Crawford of the Metallurgical Engineering Department at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
Forensic Analysis for Mary Maxon and Ashley Pourier (Curators) at the Heritage Center Museum Subject Matter Expert Consultation with Conner McMahon and Kayla Aubid (Curators) at the Journey Museum/Sioux Indian Museum
Organizations we would like to partner with:
I would like to work with the Harvard Project on Economic Development. I would thoroughly enjoy learning from professors who specialize in tech startup/entrepreneurship at Sloan School of Management. Lastly, I possess the engineering and management background. I would rely and be open to the MIT Solve community to connect me to professionals whom they think would best benefit this initiative.