Page 18 - IACA Journal, Spring 2012

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It would be hard to write about the Indian Craft Shop without acknowledging
the role of IACA board member and past president Susan Pourian, who has man-
aged it for most of the past 30 years. It’s been her life’s work, in fact. We tell its
story with the help of comments written in the shop’s guest book by artists, cus-
tomers and visitors.
It’s a great experience to find a beautiful shop with a nice and patient lady in a gov-
ernment building. Especially for a German tourist.
The Indian Craft Shop is located inside the Stewart Lee Udall Department of
the Interior Building in Washington, DC. It was established in 1938 by Harold
Ickes, then secretary of Interior, who thought a place was needed to “market In-
dian goods.”
I looked around and seen many beautiful things, history of people ways of life and
(Carnegie, OK)
It was—and still is—off the beaten path, unless a visitor is seeking out the build-
ing’s murals, painted in the 1930s by such artists as Allan Houser and the Kiowa
Five; or the little-known Interior Museum. Called a “hidden gem” by American
Style magazine, the Indian Craft Shop is much appreciated by those who know
it. “Seventy percent of our customers represent repeat business—sometimes re-
peat generations,” claims Susan.
Returning to this charming Indian Art & Crafts shop after 50 years, I find it even
more attractive and of great educational value.
(Montevideo, Uruguay)
Word-of-mouth is the shop’s main source of clients. The shop works to provide
its customers with an educational shopping experience. “We try to paint the big
picture of Indian Art, showcasing tribal and craft area diversity,”
From the Netherlands to the Native Americans, there exists no distance between art-
lovers! And this is real ART!
“We represent enrolled members of federally recognized tribes from Alaska to
the Southwest, through the Plains and Woodlands areas,” says Susan. They carry
no souvenir lines—only authentic American Indian art. Featured artist often serve
as educators, presenting stories and information related to their work.
We really look forward to our visits here - to the number and variety of Native artists
and their crafts that you carry, and the high quality of work. Your demonstrations,
gatherings and shows bring a wonderful mix together.
The Shop has exceeded its original mission to serve as a marketplace. “I see its
impact,” Susan declares, “I know it has enriched the lives of the artists, clients,
staff—and my own life. I am fortunate to work where I can be challenged, in-
volved, and make a difference.”
I am glad and proud to know that there is a peaceful place that keeps the spirit of the
Native Americans alive and well.
(Washington, D.C.)
Three murals painted in 1938 grace the walls of the shop which is accented by
tin mirrors, sconce lights and Spanish mission-style wood beamed ceilings, all
original to its 1938 opening. Two murals painted by Allan Houser (Chiricahua
Apache) are on the north wall of the front room, entitled Breaking Camp and
Buffalo Hunt; the third mural painted by Gerald Nailor (Navajo) spans the south
wall, entitled Deer Stalking. Allan Houser (1914–1984) and Gerald Nailor
(1917–1952) were both young art students at Dorothy Dunn’s Painting School
in Santa Fe in the late 1930s and were commissioned for these murals at the very
beginning of their art careers.
I n d i a n C r a f t S h o p
Allan Houser, 1930s
A n n e O ’ B r i e n
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