I've just finished a wonderful book: Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People, by Elizabeth Fenn, which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 2015. Several years ago on a family road trip to Minnesota I encountered the work of the Swiss artist Karl Bodmer, who was employed by the German ethnographer and prince Maximilian of Wied-Neuwied as the official artist of the expedition up the Missouri River. I saw Bodmer's illustrations of the bull boats and earth lodges of the agrarian Mandan people and I was fascinated. His portrait of the revered chief Four Bears, Mato-tope, is magnificent, and ever since then I have been interested in anything about these people. Fenn's book is a huge accomplishment, a record of the Mandans both before and after the arrival of Europeans. It is a tragic history, but their achievements were very significant. They were at the heart of the trading universe of the upper Plains and northwest Indians and their resourcefulness in agriculture and trade is quite unparalleled. I'm including a sketch from my journals that I did after seeing Bodmer's illustrations--a use I often put my journals to--recording something completely out of the ordinary that inspires me for years.