April 2009


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).

Guns, germs and steel in Zambia: An introduction

By Charles Erickson, M.D.

I was interrupted from my sedentary activity on a hot afternoon in the Sons of Thunder Farm House when a young man of about 15 clanged the metal pipe that served as a doorbell. The clinic was closed, as the paramedic director was in Lusaka attending an HIV/AIDS course. I had met this teenager two years before, when I had visited his home in “the bush” to discuss his mother’s condition (HIV) and to check him to see if he had any evidence of disease. But I did not recognize him, as he had grown. He had the build of a typical rural Zambian, slender with no evidence of body fat from walking long distances each day and eating a limited diet consisting mostly of nsima (finely ground white corn boiled to a paste), the staple of Zambia.


“An Evening Spent Fishing”
June 17, 1971

There are moments memorable when the conjunction of time, place and activity are harmonious; when the psychic is sensitive to soothing stimuli; another way of describing the pleasure and contentment we felt while fishing at the Polk County Wildlife Club’s sandpit, north and west of Hordville Wednesday evening. Overhead, the clouds were supersaturated and would loose brief showers as the wind drove them from the south into a darker and more threatening north. Between showers, we (the writer and Lyle Dornburgh) would leave the car and return to the fish poles.

Sculptor Gail Sundell is Elizabeth Rubendall Artist-In-Residence at Great Plains Art Museum

By Amber Mohr

Art is process, and art is best viewed with knowledge of that process. This is the theory behind the Elizabeth Rubendall Artist-In-Residence program at the Great Plains Art Museum. Each year, an artist from the Great Plains region is selected to create a commissioned artwork for the Great Plains Art Museum’s permanent collection. The interactive residency prescribes that the artwork is created live in the Great Plains Art Museum lobby. Gail Sundell, a stone sculptor from Cheyenne, Wyo., will be creating an original figure grouping of Plains Tribe natives titled “Women of the Plains,” in alabaster. She will be working April 21–26, 2009, sculpting from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and then from 2 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and from 1:30 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The public is welcome to observe and interact with the artist while she works.

'Voices of American Farm Women' photography exhibition shows women's contributions to contemporary agriculture

By Mark L. Moseman

Voices of American Farm Women” is an exceptional impression of contemporary farm women living and surviving on their family farms. In 1991, the artist, Cynthia Vagnetti began traveling throughout America photographing and interviewing farm women. Her exhibit shows how and why farm women survive better that farm men in the face of recent decades of farm crisis. Bone Creek Museum of Agrarian Art, America’s only museum devoted exclusively to agrarian art, is uniquely suited to present this unusual and compelling exhibition.

Music and Inspiration

By Karine Gil, Ph.D.

The Central Platte River area among Wood River, Alda, Hastings, Juniata, Doniphan, Kearney, Grand Island and Phillips, Neb., is an inspiration for artists, not only because of its cranes but for the Platte River itself. My work as an ecologist studying the migration of the sandhill and whooping cranes for the Platte River Whooping Crane Trust (PRWCT) has sent me on the road—I have been in contact with the people in many different towns, farms and organizations while studying the ecology, behavior and use of this habitat by the cranes.

Where were you on the first Earth Day?

By Kyle Hoagland

Kyle Hoagland in the early 1970s. (Kyle Hoagland)For those of you old enough to chuckle at this photo from the early 1970s (or not to do a double take, instead thinking, “Yeah, I’ve got one of those, too”), the following reminisces about the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, may be like mentally flipping through an old yearbook. For those who are older, or younger, these reflections will hopefully provide some context for where the American conscience now stands with respect to our environment and, perhaps, where we need to go. Others of you may well have been off in Vietnam, thanklessly serving our country in an unpopular war, during a time of great social unrest and confusion in the minds of many about how to make a difference in a world increasingly viewed as crumbling— morally, culturally and environmentally.

The return of flowers, birds and kids: Spring comes to Pioneers Park

By Becky Seth

The bird symphony and frog chorus finish rehearsing and start performing in earnest. The expanding tree buds finally burst and color the landscape with maple-blossom red, leaf-light green, redbud lavender, plum-blossom white. The Canada geese hiss and charge with lowered necks when disturbed on their inconveniently chosen nesting territory. Prescribed prairie burns magically turn the rolling land from charcoal to lush green overnight. A snapping turtle crosses a path, lumbering toward an egg-laying spot. A fawn lies hidden in dappled grass near a family of young woodchucks, peeking out from behind the stream bank. Duck families paddle around the pond. A bull snake basks in the sun. The buzz and hum of insects begin.

Sonny's Corner

By Laurel S. Marsh

Many years ago I worked for the Girl Scouts. The job came with a camp attached, and one of my first tasks was to find a caretaker. I hired a recently retired farm couple, both 35 years my senior. As cell phones, calling cards and e-mail didn’t yet exist, staff that made long distance calls for their jobs kept track of them and were reimbursed accordingly. I asked for a copy of employees’ phone bills to verify the reimbursements. This is where I learned about the politics of privacy.

Immigration in Nebraska

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