Black Hawk mural in Janesville finished

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- At least 100 people came out to downtown Janesville Monday afternoon to celebrate the finished mural honoring Native American warrior Black Hawk.

Members of the Native American community held a drumming ceremony to honor the warrior and the people who brought his image to the city.

The mural was finished Sunday night, 10 days after artist Jeff Henriquez started it. Henriquez hopes the mural reminds people of the history Native Americans have, not just in Wisconsin, but across the country.

"This land doesn't belong to anybody else but them. They should have the first and final say. It's not the way it is now, obviously, but that's the way it should be. And so I think the more visual language we use representing them, the more power they have," he said.

The mural is also part of a larger effort to restore downtown Janesville, called ARISE Now.

"Downtown, I guess, is coming back in style, where you know, back in the day everything moved out of downtown, went to the mall, now everything is coming back to downtown," said Val Eagan, who is part of the ARISE committee and helped lead the effort to bring the mural to Janesville.

Multiple city projects, including a new hotel, river walks and town squares, are happening across Janesville. The projects aim to bring in more business and tourism. The mural is at the center of it all.

"It's another opportunity for visitors to come, to see the mural, it's right in the heart of downtown, right here on Main St.," said JoLynn Burden, Vice President of Development for ARISE.

With the mural in the heart of the city, members of the Native American community hope people take the chance to educate themselves about native history.

"I just hope the people when they look at that have room in their hearts to realize that this was a real human being that walked in this area," said Skip Twardosz, a native elder.

For Henriquez, he said this is just the beginning. He hopes this mural can encourage more communities to recognize their native history.

"If I could wrap my career around doing these in every state, to give proper representation to the native indigenous people, I would jump on it right away," Henriquez said.

Henriquez and many community members said they hope people can approach the mural with an open mind and appreciate it however they can.