Sons of the Big Muddy: Dakota Territory in the 1880's
Thirteen-year-old Lars Olsen experiences Dakota Territory’s harsh living conditions in the 1880’s, with its summers’ sweeping prairie fires and winters’ bone-chilling blizzards. But he also believes in the land’s potential of being good farm country. As drought causes a second year’s loss of wheat and another family to give up farming, the Olsens remain determined to make ends meet. Lars’ father travels along the Missouri River—the “Big Muddy” —to find temporary carpentry work in Bismarck, and Lars finds employment with Einar Jensen, an editor starting up a Norwegian newspaper. Jensen wastes little time in reporting the injustices done to the immigrants by grain brokers and their spokesmen: luring them out to buy cheap land, not giving them enough land to live upon, and not paying them a decent price to compensate for bad growing years. As a feud ignites between Jensen and a grain broker, Lars strives to keep the print shop safe while he rallies the otherwise isolated Swedes, Norwegians, Russians, and Germans to come together as one American people who can make it together along the Big Muddy.