Art of the American Indian Frontier: The Chandler-Pohrt Collection

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The nineteenth century saw major changes in the U.S. frontier and in the interactions among the peoples living in its borderlands. The Old Northwest territories, which became Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, were opened to European American settlement, disrupting a native economy well adapted to the fur trade. Eventually the Great Lakes tribes were consolidated in reservations or pushed beyond the Mississippi to settle adjacent to Plains Indians with whom they had previously had no contact. Traditional articles such as decorated clothing became increasingly important throughout the century both as a means of ethnic identification and as a source of income in a cash economy; at the same time, new associations between tribes and settlers led to innovation and change in traditional styles. The Detroit Institute of Arts possesses an incomparable collection of nineteenth-century Native American art from the North American Woodlands, Prairie, and Plains. The collection resulted from the efforts of Milford G. Chandler and Richard A. Pohrt, whose early childhood fascination with the Indian frontier past evolved into a deep and comprehensive interest in Native American ceremonies, beliefs, and art. Though neither was wealthy or enjoyed the sponsorship of a museum, they traveled extensively early in the twentieth century, buying or trading for objects they could not resist. This volume presents the Chandler-Pohrt collection with detailed documentation and commentary. Clothing and accessories of porcupine quill and buckskin, woven textiles, bags, beadwork, necklaces, rawhide paintings, smoking pipes, tools, vessels and utensils, pictographs, and visionary paintings are portrayed in 220stunning color plates. Complementing the illustrations are essays dealing with historical context, ethnographic issues, and the lives and philosophies of the collectors. David W. Penney explores the concept of the American frontier and how Native American art has been treated by historians and ethnographers. In another essay he discusses the economic and social importance of women's craftwork, emphasizing the processes underlying innovation and change, and the significance of dress as a means of cultural expression during the late nineteenth century. In a third essay he examines pictographic images used to portray records of war honors and the use of visual metaphors to express power. Milford Chandler's 1962 reminiscence of the acquisition and history of a war pipe reveals the spirit of respect, curiosity, and admiration for beautiful objects from the past that inspired his collecting. Richard Pohrt offers an account of Chandler's life and development as a collector and expert on Indian art. George Horse Capture, a museum professional and member of the Gros Ventre tribe of Montana, tells how his search for his own history led him to Richard Pohrt. His essay examines the significance of collections and collectors to present-day Native Americans. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of Native American studies, art history, ethno-history, and anthropology, as well as to Native Americans themselves and anyone interested in their art.

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Art of the American Indian frontier: the Chandler-Pohrt collection

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Cocurator Penney has written this catalog for an exhibition of Pohrt and Chandler's renowned collection of Woodlands, Great Lakes, Prairie, and Plains culture artistry. In a series of introductory ... Read full review

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