Plains Folk

The Archives

Plains Folk, a commentary devoted to life on the great plains of North America, is now a special weekly feature on Main Street. 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.” You can hear Plains Folk once a week during Main Street, weekdays at 3 pm CT with a repeat at 7 pm CT.

To read more Plains Folk commentaries, click on the “archives” link.

Recent Shows

  • Hiking the Grasslands

    We were attacked from above and from below. Every time the trail led from the open grassland into a grove of burr oaks, mosquitoes flurried about us. Meanwhile, wood ticks were working their way up our pantlegs and colonizing the beagle. These things go with the territory. Otherwise, our hike through the Sheyenne National Grassland [...]

  • A Motley Crowd

    Have you taken in a county fair yet this summer? If not, there’s still time. The website of the North Dakota Association of Fairs gives locations and dates, with links to posters and schedules.   Last year I got to the Dickey County Fair in Ellendale and to the Tri-County Fair in Wishek, even serving [...]

  • Heart of the World

    The Mandan have always been people of impressive physical stature, so it’s odd that white folks, specifically white historians, have so often failed to see them. This has a lot to do with the stereotypes of plains Indians fashioned by such historians as Walter Webb, who simply refused to admit any native peoples who were [...]

  • Steppe by Steppe

    I feel like I should apologize at the outset for the punny title of this Plains Folk column: “Steppe by Steppe,” spelled s-t-e-p-p-e. It is, however, a reasonable description of an intercontinental journey.   Fundamentally, I consider myself a historian of the Great Plains. This place is my home, and it is my professional preoccupation. [...]

  • Whoopie John

    The night of October 30, 1951, was the climax of the 50-year jubilee celebration in Zeeland, North Dakota. City council member Tom Hilt was in charge of booking the band for the dance. A first-generation immigrant from Odessa who worked fifty-one years for the Milwaukee Railroad, Hilt knew what sort of music would pack the [...]



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