The Modern West

The Modern West is a rich collection of news and cultural stories from the Mountain West. Features, interviews, oral history, readings, and more offer a snapshot of Western life. Catch our monthly digest of stories on The Modern West podcast.  

Supported in part by a grant from the Wyoming Cultural Trust Fund, a program of the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

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Bob Beck

Earlier this month, those involved with arts organizations in the state were able to exhale after a proposal to zero out funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, Humanities, and similar organizations this year was averted. The proposal was part of President Trump’s budget.

At the University of Wyoming Art Museum, Susan Moldenhauer sits at a desk of neatly stacked brochures and contracts as she prepares for another year of exhibits. She is the Director and Chief Curator at the facility. 

Wyoming Humanities Facebook

  

President Trump's first budget proposal called for totally zeroing out federal funding for the arts and humanities, which could disproportionately hurt rural states like Wyoming.   

Last year some of that money went to a mobile museum that toured the state teaching students and adults alike about the state's heritage. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso admits that he doesn't like that the president is calling to end the program. 

Melodie Edwards

Wyoming may be in the middle of an energy bust, but there’s one industry that’s quietly booming: the shed antler business. More and more people are discovering how lucrative picking up deer and elk antlers can be. But that’s led to more out of season poaching of antlers and even serious accidents. Hundreds of people lined up for the season’s opening day May 1 and Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards was there.

University of Wyoming

As the University of Wyoming faces steep budget cuts, the university community is revisiting which programs are core to the land grant mission. To a lot of people, it feels like the humanities are at odds with the sciences, and both of them are at odds with applied disciplines. But one English professor has taken a look at the history of the land grant university and found that none of that is quite true.

Jennifer Tennican

Vertical Harvest is finishing up its first year of operation. The hydroponic, or soil-less, greenhouse is located in downtown Jackson, and not only provides locally grown produce, but also employs 15 people with intellectual and physical disabilities.

Melodie Edwards

On July 3, 2013, 21-year-old Northern Cheyenne member Hannah Harris left her baby with her mom and went out. Hours later, she still hadn’t come back to breastfeed her child. The police investigation was slow to start a search and the family was forced to rely on word of mouth and social media. Still, it was five days before Harris was found, brutally beaten and raped, her body thrown in a ditch. 

CC0 Public Domain

 

Wyoming is taking over wolf management, again. A federal appeals court has entered its final order upholding Wyoming’s wolf management plan. So, the state will pick up where it left off five years ago. And wolves outside a protected area can be shot on site.

Wolves in Wyoming were first protected by the Endangered Species Act in January 1995, when Canadian wolves were brought into Yellowstone by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Clay Landry

The era of the mountain man was brief—the high point of the Rocky Mountain beaver fur trade was between 1820 and 1840. But the period still holds fascination today. Clay Landry has written extensively on the subject.

He’ll be speaking on non-fiction writing at the Wyoming Writers Conference June 2-4 in Gillette. As Landry told Wyoming Public Radio’s Micah Schweizer, he recently served as a historical advisor for the 2016 film The Revenant.

The Modern West 22: Climate Change In A Fossil-Fuel State

Apr 20, 2017
Ken Koschnitzki

Wyoming’s economy revolves around energy production. But climate change raises questions about what role fossil fuels will play in the state’s future.

twitter.com/Uber

Uber has been operating in the state for just over a month now. Their launch followed Governor Matt Mead’s signing of a bill to legally authorize ride-sharing companies in Wyoming. However, while some consumers have been taking advantage of the service, others are less excited.

Branden French was one of the very first drivers to start working for Uber in March. Right now, he’s a university student in Laramie. He said Mead signed the bill on a Friday, and he was on the road that weekend.

Kunio Yamamoto facing Heart Mountain, 1944.” George and Frank C. Hirahara Photograph Collection, 1932-2016 (SC14). Courtesy Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections,Washington State University, Pullman.

This year is the 75th anniversary of the executive order that lead to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

To mark the occasion, the University Of Wyoming College Of Law is hosting Heart Mountain Week – a week of programming that explores what can be learned from this chapter in American History. Director of the International Human Rights Clinic and Assistant Professor of Law Suzie Pritchett joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to talk about Heart Mountain Week.

 

Filling In The Natural Gas Gaps

Apr 7, 2017
Amy Sisk/Inside Energy

  

With the fracking boom ushering in cheap natural gas prices nationwide, nearly 40 states have adopted or are considering new legislation to expand gas service.

Big gaps exist in rural America where natural gas does not reach. These areas rely heavily on propane, with 12 million homes that use it for heating.

One North Dakota town is looking to make the switch, pushing the Legislature for flexibility to craft its own plan to bring in natural gas service.

World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos, 2009

Baroness Catherine Ashton has done a lot. She is the former Vice President of the European Commission and former High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. She negotiated the Serbia-Kosovo peace agreement and the Iran Nuclear agreement. She was a leader in the UK House of Lords and has worked to fight for minority rights. Baroness Ashton visited the University of Wyoming this weekend and stopped by our studio to talk with Bob Beck.  

Melodie Edwards

The controversial play “What Would Crazyhorse Do?” recently made its national debut in Laramie, of all places. Playwright and Lakota member Larissa Fasthorse said the script is her most widely read but no other theaters have actually performed it until now. She said that had a lot to do with the play's subject matter.

Racial purity.

Early in the play, after grieving the death of their grandfather, twins Calvin and Journey got a knock on their door.

“We don’t want any more funeral food!” shouted Journey.

Threshold Episode 07: Oh Give Me A Home

Apr 2, 2017
AMY MARTIN

In the final episode of Threshold season 01, listeners will encounter pearls of wisdom from youth who have grown up with bison in their midst, and take a trip to the Oakland Zoo, which will soon receive buffalo from the Blackfeet tribe that will help jumpstart a conservation herd there. We also conjure the big ideas driving this first season - what's our future with this animal? How does that connect with our history? Can America ever have wild, free-roaming bison again?

Special Threshold Wyoming Episode: The Human-Bison Connection

Apr 2, 2017
AMY MARTIN - AURICLE PRODUCTIONS

On this special episode produced just for Wyoming Public Radio listeners, we travel back in time 150,000 years to trace the human-bison connection. We'll also hear bison stories from listeners. 

Each season, Threshold podcast explores one story from the natural world, and what it says about us. Season one focuses on the American bison. Dig into the history of the American bison, from their arrival in North America to current controversies surrounding their management today. 

Stephanie Joyce

  

Coal country was celebrating this week when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lifted a coal moratorium signed into law by the Obama Administration 14 months ago. But now the question is whether coal companies will even decide to expand their production in states like Wyoming. With the price of natural gas so low, coal has been having a hard time competing. But if and when companies do expand, their first stop is the Bureau of Land Management to submit an application. Right now BLM has 11 applications, but all but one was submitted over ten years ago.

Clay Scott

As a child on Montana's Crow Reservation, Peggy White Well Known Buffalo was taken from her home, put on a bus (the first she had ever seen) and sent to a Bureau of Indian Affairs boarding school out of state. She was punished for speaking her language, and for following traditional Crow spiritual practices. The experience, as it was for most Native kids, was a traumatic one. As an adult, Peggy has dedicated her life to helping Crow children connect with their history, their culture, their language and their place.

Threshold Episode 06: Territory Folks Should All Be Pals

Mar 26, 2017
Amy Martin

  

Visit the American Prairie Reserve, a conservation project in the heart of Montana that could eventually be home to 10,000 bison. The vision is to stitch together 3.5 million acres of public and private lands to form the largest wildlife park in the lower 48. But some nearby ranchers feel the push to build the APR is pushing them off their land, and they're mounting a resistance. We also try to solve the Great Elk Mystery: why are elk that have been exposed to brucellosis allowed to roam free in Montana, while bison are not?

Threshold Episode 05: Heirs To The Most Glorious Heritage

Mar 26, 2017
Amy Martin

  

In 1908, the National Bison Range was created by carving 18,000 acres out of Montana's Flathead Reservation. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it is willing to transfer the land back to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. But, a lawsuit has been filed to stop the proposed transfer. In this episode, we meet tribal members who feel they are the rightful stewards of the land and the historic bison herd, and others who are trying to stop the transfer.

The Modern West 21: Wyoming's Immigrants And Refugees

Mar 23, 2017
Caroline Ballard

Wyoming is home to many immigrants, migrants, and former refugees. It is the only state, however, without a refugee resettlement program. But the current political climate has immigrants questioning their place in Wyoming and the U.S.

Threshold Episode 04: Tatanka Oyate

Mar 12, 2017

In episode four of Threshold, we meet Robbie Magnan of the Fort Peck Tribes. He believes his community can prosper in the future by reconnecting with their roots as the Tatanka Oyate — the buffalo people. Magnan has built a quarantine facility that could be an alternative to the Yellowstone bison slaughter, but right now it sits empty while more than a thousand bison are being culled from the herd. Why? We'll learn more about Magnan's vision for bison restoration, and investigate why some people are opposed to it.

Threshold Episode 03: Born Free

Mar 12, 2017
Amy Martin

Many cattle ranchers view wild bison as a threat to their livelihoods. But some think cattle and bison can coexist. On episode three of Threshold, you'll meet two cattle ranchers with different perspectives on wild bison — and, we'll take you on a controversial bison hunt.

Each season, Threshold podcast explores one story from the natural world, and what it says about us. Season one focuses on the American bison. Dig into the history of the American bison, from their arrival in North America, to current controversies surrounding their management today. 

Threshold Episode 01: For The Benefit And Enjoyment Of The People

Mar 5, 2017
AMY MARTIN

Yellowstone National Park is where we saved the American bison from extinction. But each year, we slaughter hundreds of animals from this prized herd. Why? Find out now on the first episode of Threshold.

Each season, Threshold podcast explores one story from the natural world, and what it says about us. Season one focuses on the American bison. Dig into the history of the American bison, from their arrival in North America, to current controversies surrounding their management today. 

Threshold Episode 02: 'The Red Man Was Pressed'

Mar 5, 2017

How did we go from more than 50 million wild bison to just 23 free-roaming animals? And how does the decimation of the herds relate to the oppression of Native Americans? Find out on this episode of Threshold.

The Modern West 20: U.S. Citizens Incarcerated In The West

Feb 20, 2017
Discover Nikkei

It’s the 75th anniversary of an executive order that incarcerated thousands of Japanese Americans in internment camps across the nation. This episode includes first-hand accounts from this era. 

Wyoming State Historical Society

In 1969, fourteen African-American football players were dismissed from the University of Wyoming team because they wanted to wear black armbands as a sign of protest in their upcoming game against the Mormon owned and operated Brigham Young University.

At the time the Mormon Church barred black men from the priesthood. The incident divided the UW community and broke the Cowboys winning streak that year. Education reporter Tennessee Watson talks to River Gayton, a high school student circulating a petition to increase awareness of the Black 14, and their decision to take a stand.

Tennessee Watson

The Wyoming State Board of Education was born 100 years ago during the 1917 Legislative Session. Wyoming Public Radio’s education reporter Tennessee Watson invited Pete Gosar to reflect on the history of the board, and his final months as Board Chair.

Appointees only get to serve one term, and Gosar said that’s part of what makes the State Board of Education an effective institution. For more on the history of the Wyoming State Board of Education visit their website.

 

Richard Cahan

A new book compiles government photos of Japanese-Americans in World War II incarceration camps, including Heart Mountain in Wyoming. For the first time, some of the people in the photos have been interviewed. 

Those interviews are included in Un-American: The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II. Author Richard Cahan joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Erin Jones to talk about the stories of the photos.

National Museum of Wildlife Art

Adam Duncan Harris is the curator of art and research at the National Museum of Wildlife Art, and is a recipient of one of the 2017 Governor’s Art Awards. He sat down with Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to talk about the award and his approach to managing the museum's collection. 

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