James C. Schaap

The endless prairie all around is so bereft of people and buildings that coming up on St. Stephenie Scandinavian Church from any direction is a joy, even though the old church is but a shadow of its former self. It's hard to imagine the neighborhood teeming with Danes and Bohemians and Virginians, a Great Plains melting pot, each family--eleventy-seven kids--trying to make a go of it on 80 acres of lousy land. There had to be a time, maybe early June, when you could stand beside the old church and hear the music of children's voices rising from homesteads miles around.

James C. Schaap

There weren't all that many people--three or four dozen. Most, like me, were on the far side of fifty. But a pandemic is raging, and being out at all is something of a risk.

In 1870, Luxembourgers came to this corner of the state, the only region of Iowa not yet homesteaded. For the record, forty of them unloaded their wagons and cut through virgin prairie.

The prairie grass was very tall, spread wide as the eye could see, an immense, shaggy hide over undulating hills, grass so tall and thick that it was a hazard for those white folks who determined to settle the land here. The only way to be sure you knew where you were going, should you want to walk with the family, was to hold hands and not let the kiddos get lost in the mess. Such things happened. In those first weeks and months, the only way to be neighborly was to dig trenches between the soddies.  

This week on The Exchange, we have a taped forum with the 4th District Congressional candidates.  They are Republican Randy Feenstra of Hull and Democrat JD Scholten of Sioux City. Siouxland Public Media's Mary Hartnett is the moderator.  First, the candidates introduce themselves.

Below is a link to the Zoom forum:

Meisy's Resistance

Jun 2, 2020
R/DV/RS / Flickr

The Battle of the Bulge had not gone well for a California kid named Ralph Ellis, who, like countless others in the fog of war, had lost track of his outfit. He was in awful shape, as so many were when the Hitler sprung an immense December surprise and bullied their way through Allied lines in France and Belgium. Ellis was alone, wounded, frozen and famished, hiding out in an uninhabited house in a town pummeled--for the second time--by the Nazi advance. He thought he was dying.

I’m Mark Munger and you are listening to Check it Out.

A ship set in ice. An axe. A giant disappearing into arctic waters. Such are the uncommon beginnings to an uncommon Western. In the Distance by Hernan Diaz approaches one of the great American genres with a cold but intense embrace.

Storm Lake Police Department

At the end of the year, the Public Safety Director and long-serving Chief of Police in Storm Lake, Iowa is retiring.  Mark Prosser moved to Storm Lake back in the fall of 1989. 

Chief Prosser talked to Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer about his career, community, his next endeavor and an issue he’s passionate about, immigration.

Chief Prosser provided a few statistics to highlight the diversity in his community.

People living in the community speak 30 different languages. 

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Michael Bloomberg has reached out to a senior Iowa Democrat in a sign that the billionaire former New York City mayor is planning a presidential campaign.

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack told The Associated Press that Bloomberg telephoned him Thursday evening as reports were emerging that he was weighing a campaign. Bloomberg left a voicemail indicating he plans to run.

Bloomberg aides say he has made calls to prominent Democrats but has not made a final decision to run for president.

Thomas Tran / National Resources Conservation Service

Hattie says that just before her mother got married, she’d left the farm to start working in a grocery in Springfield, SD, where some young men “seemed suddenly to have a greater hunger for candy and cigars.” One of those young men would become Hattie’s father, who, she says, in all candor, “had need of a girl like this." 

A century ago, when a man got to a certain age, and he came to know he’d better get somebody to help with chores--a man needed to get a wife like he needed to get a haircut. 

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4thdistrict Congressman Steve King caused another media firestorm today with his comments on race, rape, incest, and abortion. In Urbandale today, The nine-term Congressman was discussing his stance against abortion restriction laws that carve out exceptions for rape and incest when he went on to question whether such exceptions could have if honored in past civilizations, caused the end of humanity.


Jul 22, 2019
Antonio Saltini / History of Agricultural Sciences , Vol. II p. 673. The sun 24 hours Edagricole, Bologna 1987. ISBN: 8820624133

It’s gone now, but the recent Somalia exhibit at St. Paul's Minnesota History Center featured a Somali plow, a wooden contraption, the ox-drawn ancestor of, well, what we might see out here in Siouxland, some huge 21-bottom plow pulled along a Big Bud behemoth, 900 horsepower.

Imagine coming from a Somalian mud hut to the agri-world we live in. That massive tractor could open up more prairie in an hour than you could hope to see in a decade behind a sweaty team of oxen and that old wooden one-share doohickey.

Welcome to America.

“Consequences of the Raid,” written by Cecilia Salazar, is a story that takes place on a dairy farm in Northwest Iowa. It conveys the experiences of the farm’s hardworking immigrant employees like Claudia, her husband, Armando, and their family members and friends. It especially focuses on the horrifying day that the Immigration officer came to the farm to arrest and deport Felipe.

The story is true and is based on a raid that took place in Northwest Iowa in the winter of 2008. The names of the people it depicts have been changed. What follows is an adapted excerpt.

“Consequences of the Raid,” written by Cecilia Salazar, is a story that takes place on a dairy farm in Northwest Iowa. It conveys the experiences of the farm’s hardworking immigrant employees like Claudia, her husband, Armando, and their family members and friends. It especially focuses on the horrifying day that the Immigration officer came to the farm to arrest and deport Felipe.

The story is true and is based on a raid that took place in Northwest Iowa in the winter of 2008. The names of the people it depicts have been changed. What follows is an adapted excerpt.

The Dove

May 28, 2019

“The Dove, ” written by Julie Blythe, portrays the personal histories of two Mexican teenagers: Gabi, a young woman of just 15 who lived near Acapulco, and Paco, a 19-year old man from Baja California. Separately, each youth made the difficult decision to leave the hardships of Mexico in search of a better life in the United States. They eventually meet and marry in Iowa

The following is an adapted excerpt of “The Dove.”


Maritza's Story

May 28, 2019

This first-person narrative, simply titled “Maritza,” tells of one young immigrant's difficulties of attending an American public high school. She is a newly-arrived Nicaraguan immigrant who desires to have her peers understand her, but doubts that they could ever comprehend her family’s decision to move to the U.S.

Maritza’s story is wonderfully captured by author, Julie Blythe. The following is an adapted excerpt.


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Federal disaster officials are asking Iowa homeowners whose homes were damaged by flooding and only recently became accessible to contact FEMA for a home inspection.

As United Healthcare prepares to leave Iowa at the end of June, state Medicaid director Michael Randol says the department is working to ensure a smooth transition for Medicaid recipients currently enrolled with that company.

Randol says United Healthcare will not leave the state before June 30th and will be responsible for all claim until then. Medicaid recipients affected by its departure will be mailed notification this week. Healthcare company Iowa Total Care is set to join the state’s Medicaid program on July 1. 

PX Here

“Maria” is a story based on the true experiences of a young Mexican mother living in Northwest Iowa. It describes the hardships that forced Maria to leave her family, and the daily struggles she endures. Julie Blythe, the story’s author, frames Maria’s own journal entries within a stirring and heart-wrenching narrative. We present adapted excerpts of Maria’s journal entries.


Adrian chats with Lindsay Stevenson on Food For Thought today about the upcoming Tacos, Tequila & Togetherness event at the Holiday Inn Express in Dakota Dunes, March 15th.

Support for Check It Out comes from Avery Brothers. 

A Winter's Tale

Jan 29, 2019
Wikimedia Commons

If the tale is true, the immigrant Menning family had some significant bucks when they left the Netherlands for America. Most pioneers didn’t, of course. But some did. What it didn’t get them, however, was plush accommodations on the steamer they took across the ocean, a trip which was, for them, no piece of cake.  In the North Sea already, their ship collided with another. Both sunk, sadly enough. Down into the cold went healthy chunk of the Menning’s worldly possessions.

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Welcome to the Exchange on Siouxland Public Media, I’m Mary Hartnett.  

This week we will talk with 4thDistrict Congressman Steve King and with the state auditor candidates.  But first, an update on a local historical preservation project. Efforts to rehabilitate the old Warrior Hotel are progressing.  

Amy Meredith

You've probably never heard of Hermann the German and likely never stopped to greet him in New Ulm, Minnesota. Then again, you could have driven through town and not seen him at all. You've got to go south and up into the wooded hills.

But once you're there, he's a can't-miss. Hermann the German stands 32-feet tall--you heard that right. What's more, his statue stands 102 feet above town--way up there. Hermann the German ain't no "small wonder"--he's huge.

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Coming up on The Exchange, the battle over immigration policy continues, A federal judge has ordered U.S. immigration authorities to reunite separated families on the border within 30 days, as Congress and President Donald trump continue a relative stand off on the issue.   we talk with an immigration attorney about the president’s decision last week to bring families together after much controversy.

Also, how Siouxland area woman helped win women’s suffrage,

Brian Mathers
Ally Karsyn

About six years ago, I was on the beach in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. At sunset. With the love of my life.

I’m convinced that meeting the parents often happens over a meal so you have something to stick in your mouth—besides your foot.

As a reader, I am fascinated by stories that describe how people survive and cope when the world they know crumbles away.

A Conversation with Your Muslim Neighbor

Feb 9, 2017

More than 200 people showed up last night at the Sioux City Public Museum for the Conversation with a Muslim Neighbor gathering.  The venue had to be changed from a smaller site because so many people signed up. 

Siouxland Public Media’s Mary Hartnett has this report.

The event is a part of the Sioux City Human Rights Commission’s new on-going series, “Who Are the People in Our Neighborhood.” Two muslim doctors answered questions from the crowd about religion, the current immigration ban, terrorism and the role of women in Islam. 

Ode: 'We are all visitors here'

Feb 1, 2017

Sometimes, when people hear my accent, they’ll ask where I’m from. It’s not an easy answer. The place I call home is East Jerusalem. I hold a travel document, not a passport, from Israel and a visa to be here. I am stateless. In the eyes of the government, I barely exist.

Chopa Ryskulova
Ally Karsyn

I am the youngest of eight girls. Yes, eight girls. We all became Christians in a Muslim country.

My second-oldest sister, when she was in college in Kyrgyzstan’s capital city of Bishkek, she met an American woman who was Christian. My sister learned about her faith and about her, and she really loved that. She was the first one in our family who became Christian.