Page 6 - IACA Journal, Spring 2012

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In 1970, third generation Indian trader John D. Kennedy,
became concerned with the state of the Indian art business.
As Indian art gained in popularity, increased demand and
limited production opened the door to the importation of
foreign made knockoffs. He understood the threat to both
the Indian artists and to the reputable traders who worked
with these artists. His constant, immensely time-consum-
ing and dedicated efforts to deal with this situation re-
sulted in the founding of IACA in 1974. Here are some
excerpts from his book,
A Good Trade: Three Genera-
tions of Life and Trading around the Indian Capital
Gallup, New Mexico
followed by his comments about those involved in this historic
event.
“I was concerned by the lack of communication and coordination within the
Indian business and the overwhelming demand for inventory. An aura of greed
in the trade compounded matters, with many businesses disregarding ethics. I
talked with Dad about devoting time to creating an industry trade organization.
At a time when everyone was going to the bank with a wheelbarrow, I decided
to spend time to develop a trade organization. It proved to be extremely time-
consuming, expensive, and frustrating.
Two years later in 1972, I launched the first trade association in the Indian busi-
ness since the United Indian Traders Association in the ‘40s. I named it the In-
dian Arts and Crafts Association (IACA). Trying to organize people during
prosperity was challenging. Typically, people are more receptive to organization
in times of adversity or perceived threat. Neither existed in the early 70s, but
deceptive advertising, inventory, and pricing were increasing . . . .
. . . Developing the IACA was made difficult by the immense distrust that had
developed within the trade. The Indian business became characterized by greed
and distrust of competitors. Many seemed to want all the business. Many new-
comers to the trade did not understand the market from wholesale and retail per-
spectives. My mission was to get people in the business to acknowledge and
accept others of like mind to protect and enhance the market for American Indian
handcrafts.
Several evenings a week, I flew my plane to Taos, Santa Fe, Albuquerque,
Phoenix, Tucson, and Denver. I met with area dealers to discuss the concept of
a trade organization, and then flew back to Gallup late at night. Initially, two or
three people attended but eventually attendance reached twenty or thirty. The
major obstacle was getting people to recognize others in the trade. Some people
considered others as crooks, but not themselves. If the organization allowed
someone in, someone else refused to join. It was a never-ending cycle.
Frank Dressman, a Santa Fe dealer, came to see me about the IACA when it had
no name. He and his wife had attended several organizational sessions without
commitment. He gave me a check for $100 and said, "For the life of me I cannot
see how this is going to work or how you can rip me off doing it, so I am willing
to chip in $100 to find out." He was one of the charter members.
Aside from convincing people to join the organization (no name yet), the next
greatest task was to assemble a leadership team. There were people that expressed
interest in the organization but were not willing to work at it. For some there
was concern about tainting their reputation in the business if the organization
failed.
From the outset, Bob Allen of First State Bank in Gallup was both interested and
encouraging to see the organization come to fruition. Early on Bob recognized
the impact that the organization could have on the economy of the Gallup area.
The Indian craftspeople were a life-line to our economy. They were producing
a product that arguably was in limited supply because a handful of people could
not logically overproduce. He understood my concern that the popularity of the
market would invite knockoffs and manufactured goods. He felt that threat
would be from outside of Gallup.
I used Bob as a sounding board for much of what I was doing and planning.
First the organization needed a name and an identity. The name was pretty much
a no-brainer. Then we needed a logo. I went to our resident artist at Gallup In-
dian Trading, Paul Pendergast, and asked him to create a logo.
In order to protect the integrity of the logo I felt it needed to be copyrighted. I
heard of an attorney in Albuquerque who could probably do it for us. I went to
Albuquerque and met the young attorney, recently graduated from law school.
He became very interested and offered to provide counsel. That was Tim Shee-
han. Tim became a dedicated and tireless worker for the IACA. He attended all
of our meetings and gave us good advice in our formative years and beyond.”
Once I had a name and a logo I felt there was more to sell on the IACA concept,
but it still needed some direction. I made a majority decision (1-0) to appoint
the first board of directors. I felt that with a proper pedigree, the core directors
could recruit and build an organization better than I could. I decided upon peo-
ple that I knew or knew of in the trade that I thought were influential and com-
mitted to the Indian arts and crafts business. Following are those people that I
recall from memory. After forty years it was a challenge and I am apprehensive
that someone has been omitted. If so, I apologize now and hope that they can
be properly recognized.
P E R S P E C T I V E
• T h e F o u n d i n g o f I A C A i n t h e 1 9 7 0 s
E x c e r p t s a n d C o m m e n t a r y
b y J o h n D . K e n n e d y
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vol I
S p r i ng 2 0 1 2