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The folks who are winter happy

There are people who don’t mind Dakota winters. And then there are those who become snowbirds—either actually or mentally—at the first hint of flurries. After years of observation, I think I’ve found the key difference between them: long underwear. Read More »

2016-17 winter may be a little snowier, colder than average

What kind of winter can we expect this year? Apparently, that all depends on whether La Niña shows up as predicted. La Niña is a weather pattern that happens due to cooler-than-average sea surface temperatures. For the Dakotas, this means our weather will tend to come from the northwest along a polar jet stream. And the word “polar” should give ... Read More »

Wildlife recreation: Part of Dakota life and an economic booster

In the United States, about 38 percent of people participate in recreation that’s associated with wildlife, according to a 2012 survey. That figure is higher in South Dakota, where 54 percent of the population takes part in such recreation. Retail sales for hunting in South Dakota were estimated at $723 million in 2011. Retail sales for fishing in South Dakota ... Read More »

Winter was part of the rhythm of life on the prairie for tribes in the 1800s

Three tipis sit camouflaged by trees and snow at the Lakota winter camp held by the Cloud Horse Art Institute on Pine Ridge Reservation. These camps, led by Tilda Long Soldier St. Pierre and her husband, Mark, offered native youth a firsthand understanding of their ancestors’ experience of winter life, including astronomy, biology, cooking, games and storytelling. The camp was most recently held in 2010. Photo by Mark St. Pierre

Winter weather was just as extreme on the prairie before European settlers arrived. Preparing for it was part of the daily existence of the prairie’s original inhabitants. In the 1800s, Native American tribes of the Midwest stayed fairly local year-round, unlike today’s “snowbirds,” who “fly away” to warmer southern climates for the winter months. They followed a strict calendar governed ... Read More »

POSTCARD: The view of the Dakotas from a bicycle

American Bison / Day 30 / Yankton, South Dakota / Mile 1,304 / Photo by Chris Register/

“But it’s all so … flat.” I heard this time and again from folks when they learned what I was planning: a 2,000-mile, six-week exploration of the American Midwest—by bicycle. Just about everyone seemed to think that I was set to experience the dullest, most featureless bike tour ever undertaken. They were right about one thing. In terms of rote ... Read More »

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