August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ethics concerns over 'Native American Encyclopedia'

Ethics and copyright concerns over 'Native American Encyclopedia' online

Letter to the Editor
Ethics concerns over
Native American Encyclopedia
Censored News

I'm hoping you might be able to help.

I have some serious concerns about a web site called "Native American Encyclopedia" (NAE)   

1. It is pulling in an increasing amount of visitors who are seeking accurate information about Native Peoples. While the title "Native American Encyclopedia" sounds credible, the content includes information that is not culturally authentic, is inappropriate, and/or completely offensive. 

2. To my findings, the NAE web site doesn't identify who's in charge. No individuals or tribal affiliations are mentioned.  Some contributors include personal links, but I've not yet found a tribal member. What is their credibility? 

3. NAE content is often -- if not all -- "borrowed" from other sources, like Wikipedia, including the ambiguous and mis-representational Wolf Totem.

4 The NAE web site is in a way that does not reflect Native culture, at least in my opinion.  It's a commercial web site with advertising, and some ads are questionable. One ad was for "Top 5 Woman Dating Sites."  How does that promote Native culture and education and values? 

But two recent events have really triggered warning bells.

5. Last month, a Native journalist contacted me about NAE possibly breaking copyright rules. If memory serves right, NAE broke email communications with him, nor can he locate info about the individuals and/or group responsible for NAE.  

The next search step requires a court order.

6. Yesterday, NAE posted an article shared by Amy called:
"How to Dress Like An Indian"

It was so appalling that I took screen shots of the page and the critical comments that followed.  It's a good thing I did because the page link no longer works for me. Either the content has been replaced, or I'm redirected to a page titled: "How To Play a Native American Flute." (?)

I am attaching screen shots of "How to Dress Like an Indian" to this email. Was unable to capture the entire screen in one shot -- needed three separate ones. Sorry.

Please share your thoughts.

Thank you.
Gina Boltz

Message to Native American Encyclopedia, sent by Censored News today:
Censored News has received concerns about the ethics and copyright issues on your website. Please respond for publication:
Censored News requests 'Native American Encyclopedia to respond to these questions:
1: Who owns this website? There is no owner visible. Please make public the name and contact information of the owner.
2. Has your website obtained copyright permission for articles, photos and other content which appears?
3. Who financially benefits from this website?


Kerry said...

Yes, the link has been changed to How to Play the Indian Flute. This site touts itself as being Native owned yet nowhere that I could find (in the Privacy Policy or the Terms of Use) is the owner information disclosed. Isn't that required by the FCC?
According to the iTunes App store, the NA Encyclopedia site is owned by Native Media Group, Inc.:
but I could not find any specific ownership information. There was one article that appeared about Time, Inc. creating a Native Ad Group but it does not appear to be the same entity:
I'll be curious to see if they respond and who owns the encyclopedia site.
Thank you for bringing this to the spotlight on Censored News!
Kerry Steiner

Unknown said...

I, too look for authentic information and authentic history about Native Americans/AmerIndians/Los Indios and find little credible info online. Indian Country Today is awful. While I haven't gone to this particular site, it, too, sounds suspect and inauthentic and I wonder what actions could be taken beyond those already taken by IR/CN? Certainly we don;t want to heighten traffic by raising hell, but are there ways to hold it accountabkle? Like with the FCC?

Phil Konstantin said...

NAE "harvested" tons of my copyrighted work (plainly marked) directly from my website While I have shared my material with non-profits who have asked, NAE never asked for my permission. In fact, they posted my material, and then listed themselves as the author and copyright holder. It took me two years to get all of my material off their website. As far as I can tell, some of my copyrighted material is still on their Apple app. Some other articles which appeared on NAE were also taken directly from other websites without permission or the knowledge of the original authors. Granted, NAE will post the name of some of the original authors at the bottom of the material. That is fine, if the author knows about it, or the material is in the public domain (Wikipedia, etc.).

I have asked NAE repeatedly to identify themselves. They have never replied. Their online registration comes back to a domain registration service. That service said they will only reveal who the owners if they receive a court order to do so.

The "How To Dress Like An Indian" article on NAE was harvested from the eHow website. NAE dropped the article immediately after I posted about it on several social media sites.

My website has been up since 1996. I have happily helped many other American Indian-related websites over the years. The more accurate, appropriate, and culturally-correct information there is out there, the better it is for all. NAE's harvesting of material, claiming it as their own, and refusing to say who they are is no way to properly represent the American Indian community online.

In case anyone is curious, I am an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation.

GinaB said...

How's this to scare you: Native American Encyclopedia has 250,000 "likes" on Facebook!!!  That's more than most legitimate Native sites.

As an educator, this terrifies me. So much of NAE is misinformation and/or disrespectful of Native cultures. Worst is that students and visitors may assume this website is run/approved run by Natives because the name implies it. Yet those running NAE refuse to identify themselves. There's no accountablility

When a website like NAE receives a quarter of a million hits to pass on false information, we've got a big problem. It's illegal for non-Native artists to promote or sell their artwork labeled Native American. NAE is not authentic and should be illegal, too.
Stepping off my soapbox.