The Modern West

The Modern West is a rich collection of news and cultural stories from the Mountain West. 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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The Modern West 38: Grizzly

Sep 19, 2018
By Gregory "Slobirdr" Smith licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Context and controversy surrounding the delisting of the Yellowstone grizzly bear and this fall's proposed hunt.

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Public Domain

In the arid West, how do we manage the limited amount of water available to us? Exploring the complex issues of water…where it comes from, how it’s used, and who gets to use it.

The Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection, acquired through the generosity of the Dyck family and additional gifts of the Nielson Family and the Estate of Margaret S. Coe

At the turn of the century, ethnologists and anthropologists were trying to collect objects from different Plains Indian cultures, since they believed the cultures would not survive. The “laundry list,” as it was referred to, attempted to collect everything special and unique from the disappearing cultures. This usually included fancier items like beaded clothing, since they were considered to be more aesthetically pleasing.

Stan Honda

A documentary and book explores what happened to the barracks at Heart Mountain detention camp for Japanese Americans after World War Two. The film released in December 2017, “Moving Walls: The Barracks of America’s Concentration Camps,” tells the little-known story of how hundreds of the barracks were sold to veterans to homestead in Northwest Wyoming. Sharon Yamato, the filmmaker, wanted to explore the connection between these two different communities in an effort to create a dialogue. Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska asked Yamato what was the significance of the barracks to the homesteaders.

Cooper McKim

It’s a hot day south of Wheatland, near the small town of Chugwater. Dirt kicks up around passing cars on a long driveway as the sunbeams gold on waving fields of wheat. At the end is the Baker Farm, with old water tanks and rusted antique farm vehicles in front of the home. 

Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming. Gift of The Coe Foundation. 11.70

 

The painter, Alfred Jacob Miller, was an early artist explorer depicting the American West. But it turns out, he only went out to the West once. His patron, William Drummond Stewart, commissioned Miller to come along to a rendezvous out near present day Pinedale, Wyoming. A rendezvous was a gathering of fur traders and trappers of Native American suppliers. They convened to get ready before the fur trade season came.

Hay prices are spiking this year, driven up by a drought-induced shortage of the crop. It’s affecting ranchers across the board, but horse owners in particular are feeling the pinch. Horses eat higher quality hay, so it’s harder to get. It’s forcing horse owners in Colorado to buy more hay from neighboring states like Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana and that’s driving the cost up even more.  


The M1 Carbine is a short, lightweight rifle that was introduced during World War II and then used throughout most of the rest of the 20th century. The army developed the rifle as an alternative to their big and heavy M1 Garand rifle, which was close to nine or ten pounds.

Kamila Kudelska


Wyoming’s agriculture industry is trying its hand at blockchain technology. Beefchain.io, a private company, is one of those businesses that started after Wyoming passed a number of pro-blockchain laws. The goal is to use blockchain technology to track data points about cattle and share the information with consumers: pasture to plate.

Melodie Edwards


University of Wyoming bat researchers Ellen Whittle and Caitlin Gorden’s workday starts just before nightfall. First, Gorden says, they put up big nets across ponds where bats like to come to get a drink of water. 

Maggie Mullen

Football season kicks off soon with the sport still mired in controversy over whether players should stand for the national anthem. A new NFL policy that would force them to do that is now in limbo while the league negotiates with its players. But the underlying debate over whether political protest belongs on the football field is a familiar story to the University of Wyoming.

Caroline Ballard


This month, hundreds of game wardens and conservation officers from around the country and Canada gathered in Cheyenne for the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association’s annual conference. While serious conversations about poaching, large carnivore attacks, and stress were important, the most anticipated event was the Warden Skills Competitions.

Stephanie Joyce

Wyoming’s energy resources are famous in the U.S., but they also play a role internationally. Coal markets are doing better now than in the past several years partially thanks to increasing exports and international prices. Dr. Robert Ichord helps give a broad view on the future of coal, renewable energy and carbon capture technology. Dr. Ichord has been a leader in energy transformation and security for years within the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and Department of Energy. 

Caitlin Youngquist

The University of Wyoming (UW) is embarking on a new age by increasing its focus on economic development and entrepreneurship. One new project is taking this vision even further by trying to develop a new niche agricultural market for the state by producing first-grains, and the key to this innovation is actually ancient. 

Melodie Edwards

In the last few years, researchers have discovered the earth is literally filled with microbes, those little single-celled critters we sometimes call germs. They’ve even been found living as deep as the earth’s core. And they say these microbes could help us gain access to thousands of years of knowledge. Now scientists at the University of Wyoming want to use those layers of ancient history to help us recover from wildfires as the climate warms up.

Kamila Kudelska

Buffalo Bill Cody’s two-story childhood home stands in the courtyard of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It’s the largest object in the Center’s collection.

Archives On The Air 25: From The West To The East—Buffalo Bill Papers

Jul 20, 2018
American Heritage Center

In May 2017 Barnum and Bailey’s staged their final show. However, in their earlier years, the entertainment titans had a connection with Wyoming.

The Modern West 36: Unexpected Migration

Jul 20, 2018
Moosejaw Bravo Photography

As climate change warms the West, birds of prey are moving north. What happens when an apex predator leaves its native hunting grounds?

Archives On The Air 23: The Monarch of the Plains—The Design of Wyoming's Flag

Jul 18, 2018
American Heritage Center

In 1919 Wyoming held a competition to design the state flag; a flag that would embody Wyoming’s heritage and accurately represent its ideals.

Wyoming Wildlife Federation


It will soon be impossible to get oil and gas leases on 24,000 acres of the Wyoming Range. Conservation non-profit the Trust for Public Land bought out existing leases within the Wyoming Range to maintain the area for wildlife and recreation. It’s the second time the groups have done this in the western part of the state – bringing the total number of retired acres by the trust to 80,000. Chris Deming, a project manager with the Trust for Public Land, who helped lead the way for both acquisitions.

Tennessee Watson

Farmworkers feed us, and to do so they travel around the country following the harvest. For their kids, that means moving from school to school. Wyoming Public Radio's education reporter Tennessee Watson found there’s a system in place to help these students, and brought us a story from North Dakota. To learn more about why we heard about one kid in North Dakota, Morning Edition host Caroline Ballard spoke with Tennessee about her reporting.

Tennessee Watson


Angel, a tall, lanky 14-year-old, dribbles down the basketball court of the school gymnasium in Manvel, North Dakota. Realizing he’s unmarked he goes for the three-pointer. It’s a nice arching shot, but the ball bounces tenuously on the rim and doesn’t go in.

A controversy over the names of two landmarks in Yellowstone National Park highlight a forgotten genocide in the U.S. and how historical awareness, conflicting narratives and misinformation help muddy the waters.


Archives On The 20: Frank Allyn—Wyoming's Road Map Pioneer

Jul 13, 2018
American Heritage Center

Frank Allyn joined the newly created Wyoming Highway Department in 1920 as a draftsman. At the time, the department was surveying existing roads across the state. By 1924 the survey was completed. From the results, Allyn created the first road map of Wyoming for the motoring public.

Kamila Kudelska


It's Christmas Eve 2000. The curator of the Draper Museum of Natural History, Dr. Charles Preston and his wife were driving along the North Fork corridor when they spotted a truck.

Archives On The Air 19: Marie Montabe, Determined WAC Recruiter

Jul 12, 2018
American Heritage Center

Marie Montabe was the wife of Albany County’s Woman’s Army Corps recruiter Harry Horton. She worked tirelessly to help her husband enlist young women, especially UW coeds, into the Corps during World War II.

Archives On The Air 16: Snow Chi Minh Trail

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

The 77 mile stretch of Interstate 80 between Laramie and Walcott Junction has been dubbed the “Snow Chi Minh Trail.”

Archives On The Air 14: The Lone Scouts

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

Have you heard of the Lone Scouts? It was a brother organization to the Boy Scouts.

Archives On The Air 13: "Tom Dewey of the West"—Byron Hirst

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

Byron Hirst was called the “Tom Dewey of the West” after Thomas Dewey, a well-known New York prosecutor who fought organized crime.

Archives On The Air 11: Hopalong Cassidy

Jul 9, 2018
American Heritage Center

"The highest badge of honor a person can wear is honesty. Be truthful at all times.”

Many children in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s were familiar with these words - part of Hopalong Cassidy’s Creed for American Boys and Girls.

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