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.

Potato Country

Mar 5, 2021


Nearly forty million acres are devoted to ranching and farming in North Dakota. Cattle outnumber people by more than two to one. North Dakota has earned a reputation for quality agricultural products including beans, honey, flaxseed, sugar beets, and sunflower seeds. Soybeans and wheat are the leading crops. The thick, black loam of the Red River Valley ranks among the richest agricultural land in the world. The state’s motto, “Strength from the Soil,” recognizes the role that agriculture plays in the state’s economy.


While mobilizing for World War I, the United States government realized that women had many skills that could support the war effort. Consequently, the War Department established the Women’s War Council. The organization was in large part guided by the executives of the Young Women’s Christian Association. After the war, many of the women in the War Council saw that the world was changing, with women gaining political power, and soon the right to vote. They became determined to harness the energy of the women’s movement, and this led to the formation, in 1919, of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs, known as BPW.

Unwanted Allotment

Mar 3, 2021

The General Allotment Act of 1887 made Native Americans individual landowners.  The act stated that the head of each family would receive 160 acres of tribal land and each single person would receive 80 acres. Reservations lands not allotted to Native Americans were to be sold to the United States and subsequently opened for homesteading. Proceeds from the land sales were to be placed in trust and used by the government as an account for supplies provided to Indian people.

Building with Stone

Mar 2, 2021

One would think that in a state with as many rock piles as we have, there would be fieldstone buildings everywhere, but they tend to be uncommon.

The Buffalo Herald described Angus Beaton, a stonemason from Nova Scotia, as a “reliable expert in the handling of brick and stone.” Beaton was an early homesteader in southeast North Dakota and was responsible for building the historic Calvary Episcopal Chapel in Buffalo in 1885. Now known as the Old Stone Church, it was the first stone church built in Cass County, and the third in northern Dakota Territory. The building was architect George Hancock’s first stone church design to also include a stone tower. While the building has since been rescued, the tower disappeared many years ago.

Statewide mandates to curb disease outbreaks are not new in North Dakota. In the summer of 1892, Governor Andrew Burke declared a quarantine against neighboring Manitoba due to a smallpox outbreak in a Canadian border town just north of Neche, North Dakota.

"The Worst Epidemic"

Feb 26, 2021


Earlier this month we heard how another wave of influenza struck North Dakota in early 1920. Bismarck’s city health officer banned public dances for 16 days. More than 130 people fell ill in three weeks in Bismarck, which had about 7,000 residents at the time. In February of 1920, for the first time since the pandemic emerged in the fall of 1918, the capital city logged more deaths than births in a calendar month.


On this day in 1969, the North Dakota Senate Agriculture Committee heard a contentious argument over the destiny of milk prices. On one side was the Milk Stabilization Board, which wanted more power to set the minimum price of milk in North Dakota. On the other side was the North Dakota Food Retailers Association, which believed that these powers were unfair and possibly unconstitutional. 


North Dakota has no shortage of famous sons and daughters. Most North Dakotans, however, largely remain unknown. Doctor John Greig is one such anonymous North Dakotan.

On this date in 1905, residents of Bottineau learned that Doctor Greig had passed away at his home in Yakima, Washington. He had been in poor health and the news came as no surprise. The local newspaper observed, “Though we expected his death, the news of it brings fresh to our minds a deep sorrow for one well beloved of those who knew him best and much respected by all.”


If you have ears to hear lively music, you know the almost-magnetic attraction of ragtime.

Ragtime has syncopation. It has energy, it has off-beat notes, and a solid bottom-bass-line. Ragtime is a distinctively-American kind of music, originating in African-American culture.


Ragtime gets its name from being in “ragged time,” with syncopated off-beats, and it was about the most-popular type of music in America by the early 1900s.


Smallpox ravaged the world for centuries before it was eradicated by vaccination in 1980. In what is now North Dakota, smallpox devastated Native tribes and instilled a real fear among people for many years. The contagious virus was pervasive and found its way everywhere – even the state Capitol, more than a century ago.