At the back of the catalogue of “Art of the American Indian Frontier,” an exhibition currently at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., there’s a beautiful memoir, called “A Collector’s Life,” in which Richard Pohrt recalls how he and his older friend Milford Chandler collected some of the Native American arts and crafts featured in the show.[1] The period is the 1920s and 1930s, the place the Midwest. Pohrt is fifteen, a student in Flint, Michigan, when he meets Chandler, an engineer who’s working at the Marvel Carburetor Company, where Pohrt’s father has a job. Pohrt had initially gotten interested in Native Americans through stories told by family friends, as well as through fiction popular during the period. He particularly mentions the novels of James Willard Schultz, whose autobiography, My Life as...


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