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.

Doctor Webster Merrifield became UND’s third president on this date in 1891. Merrifield grew up in Vermont and graduated from Yale in 1877. For the next two years, he taught in a private school in New York, then spent the next four years as a Greek and Latin tutor at Yale. He moved to Dakota Territory in 1883 to fill the chair of Latin and Greek at the newly established University of North Dakota, where he also taught Literature and Political Science.

Fargo Mayor Johnson

Jun 14, 2019

Most of Dakota Territory’s early officials had colorful pasts before coming to this new home on the plains. That was certainly true of John Augustus Johnson, one of Fargo’s early mayors. He was born in Sweden and came to America in 1854, but shortly after arriving, his mother and two sisters died from cholera. His surviving family eventually settled in Stillwater, Minnesota.

On this date in 1908, the Dickinson Press announced that plans for a Carnegie library were moving forward. It would not be long before Dickinson would be blessed with a fine library – a worthy addition for the growing town.

Coming Home

Jun 12, 2019

On this date in 1919, the Weekly Times-Record of Valley City noted that coming home wasn’t always easy for returning veterans. Newsreels showed joyous films of ships being greeted by cheering crowds. Newspapers ran front page pictures of celebratory parades. Towns across the country welcomed their veterans with concerts, parades, and picnics. But the newspaper noted that homecoming was not so glorious for every veteran. Some didn’t have a home to go to. Others didn’t know if they had a home or not. Some had not received a letter from home in months. Some hadn’t received a letter the entire time they were gone. For these veterans, coming home was not the grand and glorious event portrayed in the movies, newspapers, and magazines.

Theodore Roosevelt was the product of a loving and supportive family – influencing his entire life. TR’s record of social concern, the American people, ethical standards, honesty, scholarship and the safeguarding of our national resources are incomparable hallmarks of his life, passions and presidency.

: From the historic North Dakota postcard collection of Nels Backman

History of the Garrison Dam is forever entwined with the lifeways of the native people of the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota. The massive water project for flood control and hydroelectric power took seven years to construct west of Underwood, North Dakota. But the massive rolled earth dam also claimed the lives of 15 workers and most of the reservation's river bottom land, which the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara people had relied on for centuries for their gardens, water and other resources. The Garrison Dam forced them to higher, windier ground and the new town of New Town as the reservoir of what would become Lake Sakakawea swallowed their homes. 

About this time in 1949, North Dakotans were learning that a man doing time for forgery in Michigan had confessed to killing two people in North Dakota. One of his victims was shot in a beauty salon in Jamestown, and the other was a man named James Woods.

On this date in 1912, the Bismarck Tribune reported that Myron R. Kent quietly passed away in the state penitentiary. The news did not cause much of a stir. But at one time, Kent was at the center of what had been dubbed “the most remarkable trial in the annals of the west.”

Mystery at Portal

Jun 5, 2019

On this date in 1908, some North Dakotans were wondering about a mystery involving two farmers from Portal. Or maybe it was only one farmer. That was the mystery. Were High J. McCullough and Samuel H. Porter two separate people? Or were they one and the same? Many locals thought it was quite curious that Porter filed a homestead claim, and then purchased the claim previously proved up by McCullough, who had conveniently disappeared.


Jun 4, 2019

Fargo residents pulled out all the stops for the city’s 75th anniversary of incorporation. A weeklong celebration of daily events marked the occasion.

Fargo started as a railroad town along the Red River where the Northern Pacific Railroad crossed from Minnesota into Dakota Territory. The town was named after banker William G. Fargo and boomed as Dakota grew with the railroads. Today Fargo is North Dakota’s largest community. At the time of the celebration in 1950, it had a mere 38,000 residents.