Tom Bahti began his career in Indian arts in 1949. After graduating from the University of New Mexico with a degree in anthropology, he and his bride, Peggy, opened Ghost Ranch Trading Post.
Moving to Tucson that winter, he was partners with John Tanner at Desert House Crafts before opening Tom Bahti Indian Arts in 1952.
In 1966 Tom authored the first general introduction to the work of artists of the region. Entitled Southwest Indian Arts and Crafts, it was the first of a trilogy of books - Southwest Indian Tribes and Southwest Indian Ceremonials, that together have sold over a million copies, and have been revised and expanded by his son Mark in subsequent editions.
Mark took over the shop upon Tom's death in 1972 and continues to run the store, with his wife, artist Emmi Whitehorse. Together they opened a a second shop in Santa Fe in 2007. Some of the artists they work with are the great-great grandchildren of artisans who sold to Tom Bahti.
A researcher/author like his father, Mark has written a number of books as well, including A Consumer's Guide to Southwest Indian Art, Pueblo Stories and Storytellers, Navajo Sandpainting Art (co-authored with Eugene Baatsoslanii Joe), Collecting Southwest Native American Jewelry, Southwest Indian Weaving, Southwest Indian Designs, Spirit in the Stone (a book on animal carvings and fetishes) and, most recently, Stone and Silver.He is also working on a book on the history of Southwest Indian jewelry and a couple research projects, having just revised and expanded Spirit in the Stone.
And, like his father before him, he continues to be involved with Indian-run organizations addressing education, health and employment issues. He is a long-time board member of the Tucson Indian Center, serves on the Institute of American Indian Arts' Foundation Board in Santa Fe and the Amerind Foundation in Arizona as well as the board of the Southwest Association on Indian Arts, which runs the famed Santa Fe Indian Market.