Made of history: Tundra Vision digs into Alaska’s past

Who doesn’t love a little history? Tundra Vision, a lecture series, intends to open a narrative about Alaska’s history, accurate understandings and events and how all individuals are a part of history.

Tundra Vision is a participatory lecture series by Katherine Ringsmuth, a history professor at UAA, for all history buffs and students or just curious learners. This year marks the ninth series of learning parts of Alaska’s history, that is, the world’s encounter with Alaska and Alaskans’ encounters with the world, through Tundra Vision. This includes looking at events like war, segregation, scientific discovery, innovations, resiliency and diversity — and what better place to hold these lectures than in the most diverse neighborhood in the United States: Mountain View.

This year, Tundra Vision will have the theme of “Surprising Stories of Alaska’s Military Past.”

There are four lectures, one on the last Thursday of each month. The first was Feb. 28, the second will be March 28, then April 25 and lastly, May 30. Each session will have a different history-expert speaker, who will start the conversation about different areas in Alaska’s military through time.

“Ultimately, Tundra Vision aims to cultivate the idea that instead of observers of history—whether you are 96 or 6 — we are all history makers. We all can make a contribution to the story and we can learn about and create history together,” Ringsmuth wrote in a narrative for Tundra Vision.

The audience listens in at the first Tundra Vision lecture of the year on Feb. 28. Photo courtesy of Katherine Ringsmuth.
The audience listens in at the first Tundra Vision lecture of the year on Feb. 28. Photo courtesy of Katherine Ringsmuth.

The audience listens in at the first Tundra Vision lecture of the year on Feb. 28. Photo courtesy of Katherine Ringsmuth.February’s lecture looked at the history of African-American troops and the Alaska Highway Project in 1942. March’s lecture, “The Secret History of the Cold War in Alaska,” is all in the title: Alaska’s part in the Cold War and some “little-known” stories to accompany the conversation.

April’s lecture will focus on the Allen expedition in 1885, “Lower Copper River Landscapes and Indigenous Encounters: The Army Returns after 134 Years.” May’s lecture is “Refuge in the Last Frontier: Evolution of the Alaska Development Plan” which will explore the story of how the U.S. tried to make Alaska a refuge for Jews to escape to during Nazi Germany.

“I think just being able to come and know you’re listening to an expert, no matter where you are in life or how much money you have to attend a lecture, you know you are hearing from the experts on the topic,” Olivia Petroccia, senior history major and an intern for Ringsmuth, said.

All lectures are free, family-friendly and open to the public. There are also light refreshments at the lectures that are taking place at the Mountain View Library, 120 Bragaw St.