Wisconsin Historical Society celebrates Native American Heritage Month with local authors

By Tim Wohlers

The Wisconsin Historical Society held an author talk with writers of Hidden Thunder:  Rock Art of the Upper Midwest in Madison last month, in recognition of Native American Heritage Month. 
“Whatever can be done to raise awareness about Native American Heritage Month is a good thing,” said author Geri Schrab.  “There’s not enough visibility of it, in my opinion.”
The talk took place on Nov. 7, at the Wisconsin Historical Museum.  There, Schrab and fellow author Ernie Boszhardt explained everything that went into creating their 160-page book as well as some of the reasons behind writing it in the first place. 
“Most people are not aware of the rich Native American history of Wisconsin,” Boszhardt said. 
“Then you get into something as unique as rock art and the vast majority of people have no idea that this exists in Wisconsin, and that it was done by the ancestors of the Ho-Chunk and other indigenous tribes in this region.  But it’s there.” 
They said that the general lack of knowledge was their main motivation for taking on the project, which began back in 2011 when the two were giving presentations on the topic at the University of Wisconsin. 
“We used to do a joint presentation,” Boszhardt said, “with Geri as an artist and myself as an archaeologist.” 
According to the authors, the combination would work well with most audiences. 
“The collaboration between the art and the science was very cool,” Schrab said.  “And people were really responsive to that.” 
But Boszhardt and Schrab still felt that there was not enough awareness about Native American culture, and that they could change that by doing something on a larger scale.  So the next year, in 2012, the two started visiting various sites in the state in order to gain some insight. 
“Before my personal discovery,” Schrab said, “I knew very little.”    
Fast forward five years, though, and their book Hidden Thunder:  Rock Art of the Upper Midwest has achieved critical acclaim and won multiple book awards.  The two authors are now asked to talk to audiences across the state. 
“We do programs all the time,” Boszhardt said, “on various things.” 
They said they want people to remember our nation’s past, and not forget about all the things that were here centuries before we called ourselves a country. 
“It’s important that all people in this country are aware of our Native American history,” Schrab said.  “So this is good.” 
Boszhardt and Schrab said that they would likely return for future talks at the museum.