July 2008


Prairie Fire Newspaper went on hiatus after the publication of the September 2015 issue. It may return one of these days but until then we will continue to host all of our archived content for your reading pleasure. Many of the articles have held up well over the years. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts, or an interest in helping return Prairie Fire to production. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and supporters - the quality of Prairie Fire was a reflection of how many people it touched (touches).

Prairie Fire Newspaper is celebrating our one-year anniversary!

Our gratitude goes out to those who have helped us build and maintain the Prairie Fire network: our contributors, advertisers, distributors, many faithful volunteers, and all of you who have given guidance and support. A special thanks goes to Oakcreek Printing who ahs come through for us month after month. And lastly, of course we thank our 33,000-plus readers, who will be the ultimate judge of our success.

We look forward to another year of being the progressive voice of the Great Plains!

Emerging Africa: Democracy, development and environmental change

By Robert K. Hitchcock

The continent of Africa is often seen as a continent in decline, one in which droughts, famine, disease, poverty, failed states, economic stagnation and poorly thought-out development projects are pervasive. As Jared Diamond asked in his recent book, “Collapse” (2005), “Is the African continent doomed eternally to wars, poverty, and devastating diseases? I think not.” All one has to do is to look at book titles: “Africa in Crisis,” “Fighting for the Rain Forest: War, Youth, and Re­sources in Sierra Leone,” “Prisoners of Freedom: Human Rights and the African Poor,” and “Conflicts over Land and Water in Africa.” Africa was characterized by “The Economist” (May 13, 2000) as “the hopeless continent.” If one sees the film “Darwin’s Nightmare,” one cannot help but despair at the massive environmental, social and economic problems facing the populations residing in and around Lake Victoria. Yet Africa received only 3 percent of the world’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the early part of the new millennium.

Jung, Hitler and Indiana Jones: Fright of fission

By Eli S. Chesen

While this essay offers up at least a partial and, I think, inevitable solution to a worldwide shortage of accessible energy, the ironic inspiration for this piece is derived from the most recent incarnation of the “Indiana Jones” genre: “The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” This iteration of the popular Spielberg-Harrison Ford series features a now-geriatric Indiana Jones.


“Polking Around”
April 22, 1971

“In England there are 2,000 more bet shops than drug stores. We have no idea where we came across that statistic, but the oddity of the comparison is intriguing. In the hunt for new sources of revenue, national and local governments are, more and more, eyeing the citizen’s almost pathological urge to gamble with the thought that here is the next great natural revenue source.

The political exegesis of Nebraska's Capitol

By Stephen C. Griffith

Especially in the midst of a political season, let’s take a moment to think about the “why” of politics. The July Fourth holiday always prompts me to think about political roots. The obvious basic source is the Declaration of Independence, and I look forward to the annual reading of our nation’s founding document on National Public Radio. If I can’t listen, I get out my copy and read it myself. For this review, however, let me suggest a local text: the Nebraska State Capitol.

Collection of Dwight Kirsch's artwork emphasizes artist's attachment to the Plains landscape

By Amanda Mobley

Frederick Dwight Kirsch had an unmistakable influence on the art department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the regional fine art collections of the Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, Neb., and the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa, as both an educator and a museum director. Now Dwight Kirsch, the artist, is being explored in an exhibition that emphasizes his aesthetic relationship with the open sky of the Great Plains. This collection of Kirsch’s work, donated by his niece JoAnn Kelly Alexander, on exhibit at the Great Plains Art Museum through July 27, 2008, emphasizes the atmospheric landscape that stretches above a low-lying horizon and dwarfs the vast scale of mountain ranges.

New agrarian art museum remembers Dale Nichols

By Mark L. Moseman

Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art opened earlier this year in David City, Neb. As far as we know, it is America’s only museum devoted exclusively to agrarian art. Agrarian pertains to fields or land or their tenure. Western art is celebrated in museums around the country. Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art provides a new national focus for both historical and contemporary agrarian art.

"Celebration Threads: New Twists" by Robert Hillestad

By Suzanne Smith Arney

Robert Hillestad’s fiber exhibition is a heady extravagance of color and texture. “Celebration Threads” is a fitting title for this banquet of masterworks created since 1997. “I have long regarded working with textiles as a celebration unto itself,” says Hillestad. “Some of my most joyful moments are embedded in the pieces I create.” It’s easy to sense the passion worked into every stitch of these garments, accessories, and two- and three-dimensional artwork. You can imagine the feel of silks, velvet, rayon and wool in your fingers. Cut into bias strips, they come alive and dance with the slightest provocation. They may even fly!

Sonny's Corner: "The Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative: A 'Teachable' Moment"

By Linda M. Kalbach

“So what petition is going around town?” the express line clerk asked.

It was a moment a former social studies teacher could not ignore, a young person asking political questions, even as he rang up groceries.

“Hmm, I am guessing it is the one designed to eliminate affirmative action in the state of Nebraska,” I replied.

The Missouri River Basin: A new comprehensive plan is needed for the Misouri River Reservoir System

By David Pope

At the Feb. 25, 2008, meeting of the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes (MoRAST), the board took action to request that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers initiate a study to determine whether changes are needed to the congressionally authorized purposes for the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System in order to best meet the contemporary needs of the people of the Missouri River Basin. Since that time, it has been working with Congress to secure funding and authorization for the study, as needed.

From plant nerds to community builders: The first 30 years of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum

By James H. Locklear

I’ve been director of the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum (NSA) for almost 15 years, and I still have a hard time explaining, in a nutshell, exactly what it is we do. Marketing people tell us we need an “elevator speech,” a short, compelling summary that brings tears to the eyes and money from the pocket, but it just hasn’t come to me yet. So I appreciate the opportunity to tell the story of this remarkable, uniquely Nebraskan enterprise here in the pages of Prairie Fire.

Sustaining prairie in metropolitan Omaha: The Glacier Creek Environmental Initiative

By Thomas B. Bragg and Barbara A. Hayes

Flames leap across the prairie as smoke curls into a bright blue sky. Below, the yellow shirts of the burn crew herds the fire along its intended path… It’s spring and another fire season at Allwine Prairie, a unique, landscape-level tallgrass prairie preserve. Nestled amongst farm fields of northwestern Douglas County, Neb., the restored tallgrass prairie has remained a little-known resource, yet one that has played an important role in environmental education and research, not just for the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), who manages it, but for the entire region. Nationally significant, Allwine Prairie is the sixth oldest and the second largest of the early tallgrass prairie restorations in the United States.

Immigration in Nebraska

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