Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Inuit Art Puppets Seized By US Customs Officials

Six Inuit marionette puppets being shipped to Rhode Island, USA for repair were seized by U.S. Customs officials as suspected contraband under the 1972 U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act. The act protects endangered marine mammals by banning trade products made from them (more information is at Inuit Art Shipping Restrictions).

The puppets are trimmed with the skins and furs of ringed seal, musk ox, caribou and contain beluga whale bones which had washed up on a Pelly Bay shore. The puppets are not for sale as they are used by Inuit elders to teach youngsters about their culture. If the Inuit owners are charged, it could be the first diplomatic incident between the United States and the newly created Inuit territory of Nunavut in Canada. This is not the first time the United States has interfered with Inuit culture. Canadian Inuits crossing into the United States often have seal fur clothing seized by American authorities.

Fortunately, the vast majority of Inuit art at Free Spirit Gallery are free to cross the border to US based customers without any complications as they do not contain any parts of marine mammals.


Anonymous said...

This looks a lot like a story that was in the news in 1999. see http://www.furcommission.com/resource/perspect96.htm

Has it happened again recently?

Clint said...

Not sure if it's the same incident or if they tried again to 'test' the waters.