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Author Archives: Amy Kucera, Associate Editor

A Nebraska native from Verdigre, Kucera received an Associate’s degree in English Education from Northeast Community College and Bachelor’s degree in English Writing from Wayne State College. She obtained an English language teaching certificate through the Cambridge University in Prague, Czech Republic. She joined the Commission in 2012 as Assistant Park Superintendent at Ponca State Park and became Associate Editor of NEBRASKAland in 2013. In addition to writing and photography, her interests include history, music, art and traveling— especially via foot, horseback, canoe and kayak. She currently lives near Raymond with her dog, Norden.

Monowi: The Village of One

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People have come from all over the world to drink coffee with Elsie Eiler in Monowi, Nebraska. Not only does she own and operate the only business in the village —working six days a week as a cook and bartender at the local tavern — the great-grandmother also serves as mayor, village board president, librarian and local historian. Why does she do it? As the lone resident in the nation’s smallest incorporated village, she is the only one who can. ... Read More »

Winter Counts

Sam Kills Two, also known as Beads, working on his winter count. The death of Turning Bear, killed by a locomotive in 1910, is shown in the second row just above Kills Two's left foot, about 1900. 
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Before Plains Indian tribes developed the complete written form of their languages, oral tradition was used extensively to preserve tribal histories. Pictorial accounts painted on bison hides, also known as a “winter count,” include symbols arranged chronologically. Each image marks a single year and depicts a collective, memorable event of the tribe.   For the Lakota people, a year of the winter count measured from first snowfall to first snowfall. Oglala Lakota visionary Nicholas Black Elk referred to his December ... Read More »

Turning 10: The Missouri River Outdoor Expo

Missouri River boat rides are a popular activity at the Missouri River Outdoor Expo.  Jon Farrar/NEBRASKAland Magazine

More than 52,000 visitors in two days. Nearly 1,000 volunteers. Over 100 hands-on exhibits. Sixteen trolleys. Three locations in one park. Two world-record holders. One decade. As the Missouri River Outdoor Expo reaches a number of milestones, perhaps the most notable is the countless memories created each year at Ponca State Park. Located along the Missouri River near Ponca, the park transforms into a busy city – Nebraska’s fourth largest during the event – accommodating thousands of outdoor enthusiasts of ... Read More »

Good Life, Great Rides: Nebraska Horse Camp and Trails

Horses graze at Fort Robinson State Park.  Amy Kucera/NEBRASKAland Magazine

    From a moonlit ride along the riverside, to a deep canyon descent into forested bluffs, witnessing the beauty of Nebraska from the saddle is an exhilarating experience. With accommodations for both the two- and four-legged, the following locations offer a glimpse of the myriad of riding opportunities to be had throughout the state, which include diverse terrain, unique wildlife viewing opportunities and the wide horizon lines that make Nebraska worth riding. Remember, trail and camp availability is subject ... Read More »

New Tree School

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“We need to find a tree that’s serious about this,” Jack Phillips said jokingly while collecting acorns last fall along a wooded trail outlining Pioneers Park in Lincoln. The bur oaks he walked beneath are tall and magnificent – and becoming increasingly rare. “The old bur oak is on the edge all the time,” Phillips said. “We should treat the species as if it were endangered, looking at the age of populations now.” The collected acorns, minus the ones nibbled ... Read More »

Salt Creek Jewels

Amy Kucera/NEBRASKAland Magazine

A fog rising through the Salt Creek valley led me quietly out the door and down the driveway, past a series of dirt road intersections and directly to the gate of the Little Salt Fork Marsh Preserve near Raymond, just in time to greet the dawn. It was the barbed-wire spun in silk that first made me stop to consider the hidden creatures residing here that revealed a soft touch in sharp contrast to the tamed highway cutting through the creek. As I crossed ... Read More »

Crazy Horse Memorial Ride

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From a humble beginning with a handful of riders to the largest gathering of the Lakota horse nation, the Crazy Horse Memorial Ride is a growing tribute to Oglala Lakota war chief Crazy Horse, as well as warriors of yesterday and today. “The ride is in honor of all veterans,” said Bamm Brewer, ride organizer from Pine Ridge, South Dakota. From Fort Robinson State Park near Crawford, participants of the 17th annual event traveled to Chadron on Monday to camp at the Dawes County Fairgrounds. On Tuesday morning, ... Read More »

Nebraska Powwow Calendar

Bison manager and traditional dancer for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, Larry Wright Sr. places his bison headcap on a young boy in Niobrara.Amy Kucera/NEBRASKAland Magazine

Just as the pulse of the sun bursting over the prairie horizon signals the dawn, the powwow drum beat heralds dancers to rise and move towards the center of the circle. Led by honored elders, veterans and tribal members with flags and eagle staffs, the grand entry begins and the grounds soon fill with the vivid colors of intricately woven regalia. The men lead the lively procession, wearing horn caps and headdresses, roaches, feathered bustles, bone breastplates, beaded cuffs, buckskin fringe and ribbon shirts, soon ... Read More »