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

  • Nobilitat Labor

    Autumn is the best time for a backroad wander across North Dakota. The weather is generally reliable, the colors are pleasing, kids are in school, wildlife is active. Finishing up an engagement in Wishek on a Friday afternoon, I looked forward to a 180-mile drive home.   The roads were familiar, but there are always [...]

  • Stalking Horses

      Autumn of an even-numbered year brings an abundance of election talk, with its own specialized vocabulary. A venerable political phrase is the term, “stalking horse,” in reference to a candidate who is not serious of intent, but who is standing in for another who has not yet come openly into the contest. For instance, [...]

  • Trouble Right Here

    Two decades ago America’s foremost environmental historian, Bill Cronon, published a landmark essay entitled, “The Trouble with Wilderness: Or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature.” His work inspired but also offended a lot of people, because he called into question the fixation of nature-lovers on this thing called “wilderness.”   While wilderness advocates worried about [...]

  • On Deep Creek

    It becomes more plain as we bump along, riding the yellow school bus northwest out of Bowman toward Black Butte and into the valley of Deep Creek. I had been wondering how Dean Pearson, who after all has two responsible jobs with the county, became so preoccupied with an episode in local history. He had [...]

  • Silent Leather

    Alongside Highway 281, in the shadow of a feed mill, a plank sign declares: Herb Mignery Country: Cowboy Artist. An arrow points toward downtown (using the term loosely) Bartlett, Nebraska, population about 120, seat of Wheeler County.   Where we discover, wonder of wonders, a sculpture garden. On the courthouse grounds. Really good bronze sculpture, [...]



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