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Plains Folk
Weekly

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."

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Latest Episodes
  • “It is important that we have conversations about our beloved state,” says Clay Jenkinson, introducing his book, The Language of Cottonwoods. “I love North Dakota with all my heart.”
  • Fisherman’s Dream is the most wonderful of all the roadside installations on the Enchanted Highway. In his new book--or manifesto, or memoir, or really it’s an extended essay--Clay Jenkinson declares, “I am wild about Fisherman’s Dream.” This particular Gary Greff creation drips with irony, while at the same time appealing to the basal fisherman, so that you come away affirmed but also feeling like there are some things you may not have apprehended.
  • “Jerry Kelland started on his contract at the fire hall this week,” says the Langdon Courier Democrat of 18 January 1894. “He will put in a brick cistern of 1,000 barrels capacity. Dynamite was used in breaking up the frozen earth.”
  • This new book by David Treuer, The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, is long, winding, and sometimes exasperating. I was making my way through its treatment of…
  • I don’t know whether it is on account of the nostalgia that oozes from that stanza, or because of my delight in the discovery of a new-to-me prairie…
  • Professor Tom Isern is a distinguished professor at North Dakota State University for a reason -- he really cares about the people of the plains, wants to…
  • The complex of beds and borders and compost piles between our house and Willow Creek is, officially, a place, which we call, simply, the Prairie Garden.…
  • There you have the news from Oberon, Guelph, Sheyenne, and Pleasant Prairie, respectively. Brought to you by the country correspondents of those rural…
  • Two things stand out in the chorus from 1916 I just sang. First, the tune is familiar. It’s “Marching through Georgia,” a triumphal battle anthem from…
  • Historians of the Nonpartisan League, our great farm movement of the early twentieth century, have known all along that the leaguers were a singing lot.…