Plains Folk | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Plains Folk

Once a week during Main Street, weekdays at 3 pm CT with a repeat at 7 pm CT.
  • Hosted by Prairie Public

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." 

Ways to Connect


Jan 18, 2018


Getting around our prairie country, I often encounter people who are justifiably proud of their lineage as descendants of homesteaders. They share in our collective memory of the homesteading experience as a matter of democracy, opportunity, and connection to the land. Homesteading, we generally emphasize, too, was hard work. Attaining patent to the land required a combination of steely determination and good luck.

The One-Spotted Hog

Jan 5, 2018


It seems like yesterday, but likely it was close to two decades ago when I entertained the grandkids with our own version of the Lutheran carol, “Away in a Manger.” Our prairie stanzas were set in a snow-covered landscape and populated with animals suited to the locale--howling coyotes and barking retrievers joining the usual cast of barnyard creatures--denizens vocally present, howling and barking on cue.


My friends in the West River keep working toward the establishment of a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, a great thing for this part of the country. Bricks and mortar are in the future, but in the meantime, they have been building up the digital collections pertaining to TR and his western experience. Such as this intriguing item: the “By-Laws of the Little Missouri River Stockmen’s Association,” 1885. Chairman: Theodore Roosevelt.

Beaches of Manitoba

Jan 2, 2018

The ancient beaches of Lake Agassiz are subtle features in the landscape, generally unnoticed except by persons specifically looking for them. I recognize some of the beaches when I cross them, but am too geologically ignorant to discern most of them.

Give Us Our Try!

Dec 19, 2017


One of the joys of my job is that I get to call fabulous experiences “work.” The most popular course I teach is the history of Australia and New Zealand, a region where I maintain active research interests. This compels me to fly over frequently to maintain my chops in the field.