Pioneer Women


My own mother bought our clothes at the mall. She didn’t allow pork in the house and mostly cooked curry. The saris she wore didn’t require needlework.

Growing up in Wyoming, Nina McConigley longed for an authentic pioneer life like she read about in the Little House on the Prairie books—and resented her mother, an immigrant from India, for not teaching her how to quilt or even bake cookies.

Of course, she eventually came to realize that her mother was just as impressive a pioneer in her own way, an epiphany she documents beautifully in this New York Times Magazine piece.

Lauren O'Neal is an MFA student at San Francisco State University. Her writing has appeared in publications like Slate, The New Inquiry, and The Hairpin. You can follow her on Twitter at @laureneoneal. More from this author →