Erased Histories – Melissa Olson and Lynn Braveheart – July 23, 2017

A program on the Indian Adoption Project from 1958-1967 featuring Melissa Olson co producer and Lynn Braveheart co-writer of the audio documentary “Stolen Childhoods” in which both women tell the stories of their mother’s adoptions into white families out of the Ojibwe and Oglala Lakota Tribes. Olson and Braveheart work as Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Guardians ad Litem for the 4th Judicial District of Hennepin County in Minneapolis advocating for and representing the interests of Indian children in ICWA Child Welfare Court proceedings. Their audio documentary is available here and you can find them on Facebook here.

Supported in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

North Dakota Humanities Council

Pulitzer on the Prairie – Mike Jacobs and Mark Trahant – September 11, 2016

Mike Jacobs

Mike Jacobs

On September 11, Prairie Talks marked the centennial of the Pulitzer Prize with “Pulitzer on the Prairie,” a talk featuring Mike Jacobs, former editor of the Pulitzer prize-winning Grand Forks Herald, and 1989 Pulitzer finalist Mark Trahant, who is the Charles R. Johnson Endowed Professor of Journalism at the University of North Dakota.

Mark Trahant

Mark Trahant

Mike Jacobs was editor and publisher of the Grand Forks Herald when it won a 1998 Pulitzer for Public Service for coverage of a flood that devastated the city.

Trahant was a Jury nominee (finalist) for a 1987 Pulitzer Prize as co-author of an Arizona Republic series called “Fraud in Indian Country.” He also served as a jury-pool judge for the Pulitzer Prizes in 2004 and 2005.

Tom Gerhardt

Tom Gerhardt

Held at Prairie Village Museum, the talk was moderated by KXMB-TV news director Tom Gerhardt, Bismarck.

This event was supported in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Fighting Stigma: Saving Lives – Beth Huseth, R. N. and Rev. Phil Leer – June 12, 2016

The Prairie Talks Event, “Fighting Stigma: Saving Lives,” will explored mental health issues, the related stigma that still exists in our rural communities, and how we can help those who are struggling.

BethThe featured speaker was Beth Huseth, R.N., chair of Community Cares about Suicide Awareness and Prevention in Harvey, N.D., and former North Dakota Suicide Prevention Coalition board member.

Huseth was joined by the Rev. Phil Leer, a founding member of Community Cares and pastor to Harvey families who have lost loved ones to suicide.


The Theater of Public Policy – September 13, 2015


From left to right, T2P2’s Tane Danger, Dr. Chad Litton, Dr. Paul E. Sum, and Nathan Steffen

Prairie Talks welcomed the Theater of Public Policy, along with panelists Dr. Paul E. Sum from the University of North Dakota, Dr. Chad Litton from the University of Mary, and Nathan Steffen from Bismarck State College on September 13, 2015 at the Prairie Village Museum.

The Theater of Public Policy (T2P2) combines public policy analysis with improvisational comedy. The show opens with an on-stage panel discussion among thought leaders on a given subject. Based on this interview, the cast improvises scenes that illuminate the topic in new and entertaining ways. During the second half of the show, the panelists take questions from the audience, engaging everyone in the process, and the show is concluded with a final series of improv humor based on all the events of the program. The Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote: “Imagine C-SPAN being swarmed by the cast of SNL and you’ve got The Theater of Public Policy.”


Members of the T2P2 improv troupe.

At Prairie Talks, T2P2 addressed the ethics of corporate contributions to political campaigns and lobbying. Expert panelists included Dr. Paul E. Sum from the University of North Dakota, Dr. Chad Litton from the University of Mary, and Nathan Steffen from Bismarck State College. Each brought to the discussion significant scholarly research on ethics, political science, and the social sciences. Their insights, combined with the energy of the performers, made for a dynamic program!

This event was supported in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council.


Bill Thomas and Lorraine Davis – June 14, 2015

Prairie Talks welcomed Bill Thomas, director of radio at Prairie Public, and Lorraine Davis, founder of the Native American Development Center, to share their insights on how stories shape our lives as individuals, communities, and a society overall. Thomas and Davis are currently collaborating on a project to record interviews with some 50 Native Americans in the Bismarck area, which will be aired on Prairie Public during the summer of 2015.

Photo - Bill ThomasBill Thomas started at Prairie Public in 1999 as the first manager for the new public radio network formed with NDSU and UND. He came to North Dakota from working in Lincoln at Nebraska’s Public Radio Network. Before that, like many people in media work, he moved around as his jobs changed. He has worked in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois; Los Angeles; Washington, DC; and St. Louis. He started small community stations, managed national program distribution, has been a program director, a station manager and a network manager.

Photo - Lorraine DavisLorraine Davis is the founder and executive director of the Native American Development Center (NADC) in Bismarck, North Dakota. A Native American woman, professional, and mother of four, she has overcome alcoholism, poverty, homelessness, oppression, and violence. Her experiences directly informed the formation of the Native American Development Center in September 2012. She is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate with descent at the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation (MHA) and her father is Mexican American. Lorraine has served the community as part of the homeless and poverty coalition, a Mandan Public School Board Member, and advisor to the Mayor of Bismarck to recruit Native American career talent. She is married to the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner, Scott Davis. She believes the NADC will be a supportive and culturally relevant foundation for Native Americans to turn to when they are seeking a better life.