StoryCorps North Dakota | Prairie Public Broadcasting

StoryCorps North Dakota

StoryCorps recorded interviews in Bismarck from June 28-July 27, 2018, as part of its cross-country MobileBooth tour. Having collected more than 65,000 interviews from Americans in all 50 states, StoryCorps has gathered one of the largest single collection of human voices ever recorded.

In StoryCorps’ MobileBooth, two people are able to record a meaningful conversation with one another about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered. A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides them through the interview process. With participant permission, a copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for future generations to hear.

Founded in 2003 by award-winning documentary producer and MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay, StoryCorps has traveled to every corner of the country to record interviews in the organization’s effort to create a world where we listen closely to each other and recognize the beauty, grace and poetry in the lives and stories we find all around us.

A selection of locally recorded stories air on Main Street and Morning Edition. 

Thank you to our local StoryCorps sponsors: Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck State College, and AARP of North Dakota.

They say a rising tide lifts all boats. For Barnie Botone, the great-grandson of a famous Kiowa chief, the Civil Rights Movement and an unlikely change agent helped pave the way for a fulfilling and pioneering career. But why were the tears flowing from his grandmother’s eyes not happy ones?

Botone spoke with StoryCorps facilitator Savannah Winchester at the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck.

Those who work to revitalize Native American languages often find it challenging to reach the hearts of young people. But for one Lakota father and daughter, language has always been at the center of their lives, their bond and their purpose.

Manny and Claudia Iron Hawk recently visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck to discuss family history and the Lakota language as a healing force.


Kurdish-American couple Berivan and Abdullah Ali describe their harrowing trip from Iran to Germany, a stepping stone in immigrating to the United States. While they chose to settle in Bismarck, North Dakota, for geographically incorrect reasons, they soon discovered the welcoming nature of its people. After many decades of happy living, Berivan and Abdullah are ready to start a new chapter in their lives, and that means leaving their beloved home, once again.

A father raising a daughter on his own might not raise any eyebrows today, but forty-some years ago, it was a bit of a novelty. For Tasha Carvell, she’s glad her single dad Kevin inspired her wanderlust and an affinity for the underdog.

Some adopted kids want to know their birth parents, some don’t.

For Gary Anderson, it was his own kids who finally persuaded him to ask questions. One even bought him a DNA kit from That’s when he discovered he has nine half siblings.

He told the story to his niece Cathryn Sprynczynatyk at the StoryCorps mobile recording booth in Bismarck of how he figured out who his parents were, based on a report from what was “technically” a closed adoption.

In a war torn country, life is fraught with hardship.  Paul and Lydia Zondo grew up in Liberia during the First Liberian Civil War, a conflict that killed a quarter of a million people from 1989 to 1997.

They’ve moved many times in their lives, first as refugees, later to find good jobs and a safe place to raise their children. Between them they’ve lived in Liberia, Ghana, New York, Maryland, Ohio, Minnesota, Nebraska, Missouri, Montana, and both Dakotas.

Deep in the heart of the sauerkraut triangle, you know your bratwurst from your bockwurst, and strudel from your streusel. And you know your polka from your two-step.  

Victor Schwahn has been playing the accordion for 73 years. He visited the StoryCorps MobileBooth in Bismarck with friend Harvey Schilling to talk about how he got his start.

Kevin Locke tells StoryCorps Facilitator, Madison Mullen, about a promise and gift made by his friend and benefactor, Arlo Good Bear, shortly before his death. He describes Good Bear's lessons and gift of the hoop dance, which Locke has since shared with people all over the world.

Dina Butcher talks with her daughter, Marnie Piehl, and grandson, Owen Piehl, about her political leanings, involvement, and concerns, and how they are directly influenced by her family history as Jewish refugees in United States who fled Nazi Germany in 1939. Dina reflects on her parents' history, both in the US and in Germany, and no matter the climate, the importance of speaking up.