Mid-America Geographic Foundation

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by Beth Spencer over a year ago

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HISTORY

On January 4th 1992, Herman Bender and a diverse group of Fond du Lac area residents discussed the potential and need for a group such as MAGF.  Those present represented a wide range of interests and special skills with a common recognition that a non-profit organization would be the way to reach goals of preserving recently found historic and archeological sites.  An early (1992) project of Herman Bender and MAGF was promoting the listing of the Raube Road Historic Site on the National Register of Historic Places and setting aside the area as a county park.

Mid-America Geographic Foundation was officially registered by Robert J Wirtz on July 24, 1992 with the state of Wisconsin as a 501 (c). The stated purpose of the organization was “to organize exclusively for educational and scientific purposes; and specifically for the preservation, protection, and study for public purposes, of our geographic and historic heritage and for educational purposes associated therewith for the public.” The organization has operated under a set of by-laws from its inception with a board of directors, officers and committees.

Initially, MAGF held board meetings in Dr. John Heil’s science room and large meetings for members and the public in the Henken Lounge at the Fond du Lac Campus, UW System.  The group currently holds board meetings and large general meetings in the Village of Rosendale’s Municipal Building at 211 N. Grant Street in Rosendale, WI.  Early meetings concentrated on the use of land trusts and how to structure the organization.

MAGF has developed affiliations with local, national, and international organizations with similar interests.  MAGF has informal relationships with the Rock River Archeological Society and Ancient Earthworks Society of Madison and formal affiliation with American Rock Art Research Association (ARARA), Eastern States Rock Art Research Association (ESRARA), and the International Federation of Rock Art Organization (IFRAO).  The group has interacted with these organizations by organizing conferences and going on field trips and studies together.

MAGF was the local host of the International Rock Art Congress (IRAC) held at Ripon College from May 23-31, 1999.  MAGF organized the housing, meals, fieldtrips, and entertainment, provided publishing and editing of abstracts, coordination of transportation, translation, vendor set up, and limited assistance with costs and housing for foreign participants.

MAGF was the local host of the Eastern States Rock Art Research Association at Ripon College from May 20-22, 2005.  The group provided all of the local support, and its ability to help fund these two large conferences was supported by two local benefactors.  The work of Dr. John Steinbring and help from members made both of these conferences successful.

MAGF had members involved with the Wisconsin Public Service commission that set legal precedence in requiring utilities to take into consideration the visual and physical impact of power line placement in important archeological sites.  The group also had the Hensler Petroglyph Site listed on the 2008 List of Threatened Sites by the Sacred Sites International Foundation.  Both of these actions are important steps in protection of sites in Wisconsin.

MAGF has published two editions of its findings on the Hensler and Yelk Sites in Dodge County.  The group has recovered thousands of artifacts from these sites, accepted donated materials to the organization, and has done identification and carbon dating work on samples from area investigations.  While Dr. Steinbring is the group’s main publisher, he has been aided in fieldwork by many of MAGF’S members.  MAGF has given an annual Field Service Award to those who have helped in the fieldwork.

MAGF has undertaken several field trips to such places as Krug’s Woods spiritual site, Kolterman Mound site, Lizard Mounds, Koskonong State Park, Aztalan, Missouri Hill and Observatory Hill, among others and has organized two three-day trips.

Members traveled east of St. Louis to the Cahokia Mounds, March 17-19, 2006, to a State Historic Site and World Heritage Site preserving the most sophisticated pre-historic Indian civilization north of Mexico. In addition to museum tours members visited some of southern Missouri’s premier petroglyph sites at Washington State Park. Local archeologists provided tour guiding.  A highlight of the trip was a sunrise program for the Spring Equinox at Cahokia followed by a drum ceremony led by one of the MAGF members. 

The Fall 2008 field trip, beginning in Rosendale WI, stopped first at the Mississippi Archeological Center in La Crosse, WI  where  Ernie Bozhard gave an interesting and informative tour of their facilities on the UW-La Crosse campus.  After lunch the group traveled to Jackson, MN.  In Jackson, the Fort Belmont Historical Association members gave members a private tour of their facilities.  The next morning MAGF members visited the Jeffers Petroglyph site and were given a personal tour by the superintendent, with special lighting that made the petroglyphs much easier to see.  The afternoon was spent at the Pipestone National Monument viewing the production of pipes and taking a tour of the grounds.   After a night in Sioux Falls, SD,the group met with members of the Granite Thrashing Association for a personal wagon ride to the Blood Run Mound Complex. 
MAGF field trips have combined the camaraderie and expertise of the members with local experts and citizens, making the trips educational, enjoyable and rewarding.