Plains Folk

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

  • A Fresh Approach

    One of the best descriptions of the character of the people of North Dakota comes from the historian Catherine McNicol Stock, in her book, Main Street in Crisis: The Great Depression and the Old Middle Class on the Northern Plains. Catherine describes us as a “producerist” people, inclined to practicality, industrious in habits, not cordial […]

  • The Extinct Buffalo

    During the latter decades of the nineteenth century carbon works in Detroit, St. Louis, and Philadelphia were bidding for buffalo bones to be burned into bone black, which was used for fertilizing fields and refining sugar. The bone trade, harvesting the pale remains of bison herds past, surged across the northern plains with the railroads. […]

  • Dry Bones

    Those of an Old Testament frame of mind will find resonance in my title today, “Dry Bones”–but in fact I speak not from the Book of Ezekiel but rather from the historical sources of the northern plains in the late nineteenth century. Last week I talked about the great pile of buffalo skulls photographed at […]

  • Pile of Bones

    A photograph of a massive pile of buffalo skulls circulates on the internet, generally with moral messages attached. Writers use the image as visual condemnation of injustice to American Indians, waste of wildlife resources, and the need for mindful conservation. I have no quarrel with those messages, but my interest in the image is more […]

  • Kippy the Keystone Bear

    Prairie towns across the northern plains have hunter houses. These are former family residences bought up by sportsmen who make them seasonal headquarters for hunting and fishing. Some little towns, the majority of houses extant are in this class. Hunter houses are a mixed blessing. They do not house families, and so might be considered […]

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