Ernest Oberholtzer (1884-1977) is one of the great unsung heroes of the American conservation movement of the twentieth century. Selected as one of the 100 influential Minnesotans of the twentieth century by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, a friend and contemporary of both Aldo Leopold and Sigurd Olson, and one of founders of The Wilderness Society, "Ober" was best known for his pioneering work to preserve one of the last remaining wilderness areas east of the Rockies—the Quetico-Superior region of northern Minnesota and southern Ontario.
The long campaign by Ober and many others to preserve this area made a significant and lasting impression on conservation and wilderness preservation efforts around the world. Keeper of the Wild is the first book to document and explore the life of the man who led the fight to save the area that eventually became Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (today the most visited wilderness area in the United States), and the successful effort to preserve Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario as a protected wilderness area.
Drawing on a lifetime of notebooks, letters, and speeches, as well as interviews with the people who knew him best, Paddock maps Ober's transformation from a daring young outdoorsman and adventurer to an equally fierce defender of our country's disappearing wilderness areas.
Along with his desire to preserve the natural beauty of the boundary waters, Ober was also committed to preserving the culture of the native peoples of the northern wilderness. He befriended and traveled with them, learned to speak Ojibwe fluently, and began a life-long study of the legends and oral tradition of their culture. Because of his efforts on their behalf, the Ojibwe called him "Atisokan," meaning "legend" or "teller-of-legends."