Plains Folk Plains Folk is a commentary devoted to life on the great plains of North Dakota. Written by Tom Isern of West Fargo, North Dakota, and read in newspapers across the region for years, Plains Folk venerates fall suppers and barn dances and reminds us that "more important to our thoughts than lines on a map are the essential characteristics of the region — the things that tell what the plains are, not just where they are."
Plains Folk

Plains Folk

From Prairie Public Broadcasting

Plains Folk is a commentary devoted to life on the great plains of North Dakota. Written by Tom Isern of West Fargo, North Dakota, and read in newspapers across the region for years, Plains Folk venerates fall suppers and barn dances and reminds us that "more important to our thoughts than lines on a map are the essential characteristics of the region — the things that tell what the plains are, not just where they are."

Most Recent Episodes

Still

If you're like me, you've already filled up your calendar with events and expeditions for the summer. Make room for one more: 2pm Sunday afternoon, June 9, Rebecca Bender will booktalk her recent work, Still , at the Wild Rose Bar & Cafe, Ashley. Why not make it a day in McIntosh County, on the eastern front of German-Russian Country? There will be time before or after the booktalk to make pilgrimage to the Ashley Jewish Homesteaders Cemetery, just north of town, where you can connect with

Prairie in Your Freezer

Lately I've been thinking a lot about northern pike. Other people in spring are thinking about walleye. Walleye, I like to say, is fish for people who don't like fish. And they are wimpy fish, too, so there. With ice breakup our state fish in on the prowl, hungry, and so am I. Get yourself in the right place, and you can catch pike on almost anything you tie on. Some people use hotdogs for bait. My usual recourse is to that classic offering known as the Daredevil, a traditional red-and-white

Heroes of German-Russian Country

Here are a couple of things that seem far apart, but in my mind, there is a connection. We are recently returned from a research expedition to the high dry interior of New Zealand, where we spent time with people who have established a world-class wine industry in former sheep paddocks. Marketing is crucial to them, marketing not only their vintage but also the land in which it is made.

Heart of Dakota

The Missouri River never had a Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain, to pilot its historic steamboats into the literary canon. Steamboating on the Great Plains in general has been shortchanged by regional historians, beginning with the great one, Walter Prescott Webb, in 1931. This was because Webb was from Texas, and steamboats were not significant drivers of white settlement on the southern plains.

Fires of Hope

This is not an attempt to rekindle an old controversy, but in my opinion, our state's flagship university missed an opportunity when a few years ago it selected a new nickname for its sports teams. It seems to me the selection process was crippled by lingering commitment to the previous, objectionable nickname. The result was "Fighting Hawks," which is getting some traction, but is, well, uninspired.

Learning from the Lindis

About the time you hear this essay, Suzzanne and I will be jetting to New Zealand once again. We have scheduled our spring break in the Hocken Library, at the University of Otago, the southernmost university in the world. From there we will range into the field, the grassy basins of Central Otago, for fieldwork in regional history. This itinerary puts into practice the advice I give my History students at NDSU: first, butts in the archives; and then, boots on the ground. Go get the history where

A Book-Hungry Land

The words you hear are composed in an exceedingly literary environment. An entire floor of our split-level house is devoted to office and library, as I am a writer and my wife is a publisher. She is always overhauling someone's manuscript, and I am always composing one. Sometimes she gets a crack at one I have composed, but that is another story for another day. Today's story has to do with bookish environments and what scholars have come to call "print culture." Here we are with our books in

The Duck Stamp Guy

Waterfowl hunters, check your wallet, and you will see that this year's duck stamp - now known as a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, but who calls it that, anyway? - this year's duck stamp features a pair of mallards. It is a return to the roots of the program. The first federal duck stamp, issued in 1934, also bore the likeness of a mallard pair.

Malbec in Your Chili

Deep winter is a time for serious culinary work, and we have a freezer full of venison. In a previous essay I made the case for a new code of the sportsman suited to the prairies--a code that partakes both of the gentlemanly values of Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell and also the practical values of our homesteading forebears.

River of Stories

Notes from a winter diary. Awaiting rosy fingers on the eastern horizon, I make a prayer of thanks for the morning dark, the starry quiet, and the companionship of this interlude. Not a creature is stirring, not even Angie the History Dog. So what is this pre-dawn "companionship" of which I speak?

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