Dakota Datebook | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Dakota Datebook

6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT
  • Hosted by Prairie Public

Sitting Bull to Phil Jackson, cattle to prairie dogs, knoefla to lefse. Dakota Datebook radio features air weekdays at 6:42 am, 8:42 am, 3:50 pm*, 5:44 pm, and 7:50 pm* CT on Prairie Public. Find the 2003-2017 archives here.

*These airtimes during Main Street may vary.

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Dakota Datebook is generously funded by the North Dakota Humanities Council, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of the North Dakota Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Meriwether Lewis and William Clark found many ways to occupy their time during the winter of 1804-05 at Fort Mandan near present day Washburn, North Dakota. They met regularly with the neighboring Mandans and Hidatsas, with whom they traded, provided medical care and shared dances and other gatherings. The men of the Corps of Discovery hunted the surrounding plains and tended to their watercraft. They also endured frostbite.


From spreading disease to forced assimilation, we hear so much about the damage white settlers caused for native peoples, but we hear less about the amazing resistance that Indigenous people engaged in. One form of resistance is survivance, which is defined by Gerald Vizenor as, “…an active sense of presence, the continuance of native stories, not a mere reaction, or a survivable name.” One form of survivance is repatriation, or the process of returning symbolic assets to a people or country.


William Guymer was born at Jamestown, North Dakota, in 1925.  After graduating from Jamestown High, Bill entered the US Navy in March of 1943 during World War II.  After basic training, Guymer became a Gunnery Mate and was assigned to the USS Mazama. 

The Mazama was a large Navy ammunition ship that served in the Pacific.  Navy ammunition ships were named after volcanoes -- mountains that could explode.  Ammunition ships could do the same.  The Mazama was named after Mount Mazama, a collapsed volcano in the Cascade Range in Oregon.

O. A. Stevens

Jan 12, 2021


Orin A. Stevens was born on a farm in Kansas in 1885, where he began his lifelong habit of observing birds and bees and plants. His interest in nature took an academic turn when he picked up his older sister’s botany textbook. Following high school, he entered Kansas State, and upon graduating with a degree in Agriculture, he was appointed as an instructor of Botany.


On this date in 1912, readers of the Washburn Leader learned that women were no longer content to take a backseat when it came to farming. The article stated the outdoor life was luring women to the Great Plains. Within the previous two years, many women had chosen farming over teaching, clerking in stores, or doing secretarial work. While noting that modern machinery made farming easier, the women agreed that the main attraction was an active life in the open air.


On this date in 1909, the Washburn Leader informed readers of what one Grand Forks boy was up to. The newspaper reported that the young man kept a milk cow and some chickens. He spent his time reading poultry and stock journals. He made an average of $1.15 per day selling milk and eggs. He also sold his champion chickens for $5.00 a pair. The newspaper noted that his family always had milk, chicken, and eggs for the dinner table.


Normally, a New Year’s Eve observance means nighttime partying, silly hats, and cautious expectations about hangovers at dawn’s early light. But many citizens getting ready for the year 2000 were hoping there would be no massive ramifications to humanity’s reliable companion: technology.

By today’s date in 2000, there was relief that the world’s technology had not collapsed. The scare of the calendar change was the millennium bug, with the nickname Y2K. It was born of the idea that computers might fail, unable to adjust their programming because may systems calculated the year with only two digits. What would happen they the computers went from 99 to double zero? There was real concern of a mammoth failure.


On this date in 1913, Olaus Abelseth was celebrating his mother’s birthday, and felt fortunate to be alive, having survived the sinking of the Titanic.

Abelseth was a laborer and sailor from Norway. He came to America years before the Titanic existed with his brother Hans around 1902 or 1903. He lived in Hatton where he worked at different farms around the Red River Valley. He eventually made his way to South Dakota where he started a livestock farm in Perkins County. The farm struggled, so he went back to Norway.

School Flu Closures

Jan 5, 2021


School closures have long been a measure aimed at slowing epidemics in North Dakota. Schools closed for weeks, even months due to outbreaks of disease. The 1918 influenza pandemic locked down communities that fall, closing churches, theaters and schools and prohibiting public gatherings. But not every school responded the same way.


The Garrison Dam is the fifth largest earthen dam in the world. Made by packing down dirt with other materials, its total volume is 66.5 million cubic yards of earth fill and 1.5 million cubic yards of concrete. However, underneath its many layers is a sad story.