Magazine spread angers North Dakotans

Jan. 15, 2008 at 3:09 PM
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BISMARCK, N.D., Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A National Geographic article featuring photographs of abandoned farm houses and rusting cars has infuriated many North Dakotans, especially the governor.

Critics say the story National Geographic tells is only partly true and has been told over and over, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. Others are just plain mad.

"They could have done the same thing in Minnesota. Pick any state, find an abandoned building or house or a car sitting in a field, take a picture and say that represents the state -- come on," North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven said.

High wheat and oil prices have been good for North Dakota, but National Geographic's "The Emptied Prairie" by Charles Bowden focuses on arid western North Dakota, where low rainfall has been killing the hopes of farmers for decades.

Clay Jenkinson of Dickinson State University said that explorer John Wesley Powell pointed out the problems of western North Dakota in 1878.

"Someone is always coming out here and discovering that the plains are emptying out," he said. "This is yet another in a long, long series of dying town stories and we all need to take a deep breath."

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