Recently a letter was published in the Wahpeton Daily News (of Wahpeton, North Dakota) addressing Representative John Cramer. Here is a snippet:

That is prairie tough.
We are all survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, or rape.
We are all North Dakotans.
We are all prairie tough.

It is available here too, but based on comments, some users in some areas may not have access to any of this material.

In this letter, what is the implication or significance of the victims being a North Dakotan or being Prairie tough ?

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    I have removed the possible answer as it normally does not belong with the question. SE allows to answer your own question, but make sure you include the proper references to support it.
    – Alexei
    Oct 20, 2018 at 7:07
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    also, when trying to access your link I receive 451: Unavailable due to legal reasons (I am accessing from a country within EU). Please, include the relevant details in the post as citations.
    – Alexei
    Oct 20, 2018 at 7:08
  • @Alexei , thanks for the inputs ; I have included a snippet, and also another web-link.
    – Prem
    Oct 20, 2018 at 9:40
  • @Machavity et al , I have reworded it to ask a specific question .
    – Prem
    Oct 21, 2018 at 7:07
  • FYI there is a Meta post about this question. Oct 21, 2018 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


There is a notion of "Praire Tough". It seems to have originally referred to the prairie soil, with a network of grass roots that broke conventional ploughs, and was then used to describe the tough and hardworking farmers who worked the prairies. This is an image that has been previously used in American literature:

... he was brought out here as a young bride... she seemed as if she was made for the prairie tough... nothing fazed her... designed for solitude and wide open spaces. (Home is where the Heart is, Linda Byler)

Traditionally it may have been associated with a certain kind of machismo: The ideal of praire tough would be a white, male farmer who, with gun and plough, subdues the land.

Now, logically there is nothing wrong with the statements:

North Dakotan women victims of abuse are North Dakotan (Tautology)
North Dakotan women victims of abuse are "Praire tough" (the claim)

It does not follow logically that "All North Dakotans are Praire tough".

Rhetorically this links a notion that makes North Dakotans proud to a particular subgroup, and implicitly suggests that abusers are not as "praire tough" and so are only North Dakotans in name, and not in attitude. It explicitly includes the Native Americans victims, to make the point that men that abuse Native American women should face justice within the tribal system.

This is rhetoric. The significance is that women may have been seen as being victims, and so weak and not tough. The letter writer is making the opposite claim, and using rhetorical techniques to do this.

  • +1, James, thanks for the answer. (1) "a notion that makes North Dakotans proud": In an initial version of the Post, I used "a badge of honour" for this notion. (2) Even the culprits are North Dakotans and Prairie tough, that is where I am stuck. (3) If folks from neighbouring state or country were the culprits, this claim would make sense. (4) Words "women" and "girls" are mentioned elsewhere in the letter, but not in "We are all North Dakotans. We are all prairie tough." , implicitly including men, I guess, trying to garner votes from women as well as men. (5) Here the keyword is "rhetoric".
    – Prem
    Oct 29, 2018 at 17:27
  • @Prem Culprits are silently excluded from "us", even though they may be equally from North Dakota. "We" are forming a bond of solidarity, and abusers are not welcome in that.
    – Grault
    Jun 14, 2019 at 22:10
  • @Grault , I agree that "we" excludes the culprits, but the bond of solidarity is equally applicable to the culprits. Eg, the culprits can say "Yes, we attack women, because we are all prairie tough" [[ Even a businessman had talked about grabbing women by the private parts, and who knows how many votes that bond of solidarity brought in, to make him a President !! ]]
    – Prem
    Jun 15, 2019 at 18:50
  • @Prem Yes, rhetorical tools are amoral and can be applied to any purpose. I'm not sure we're on-topic anymore, though.
    – Grault
    Jun 15, 2019 at 19:01
  • @Grault , James is right that it is rhetoric, and your Point about "we" excluding the culprits is valid. Voters are swayed by Pride, rhetoric, badges of honour & bonds of solidarity, Politicians use anything and everything !!
    – Prem
    Jun 15, 2019 at 19:16

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