California's Connection To Russia, and the World

California's connection to the world has become ever more apparent when beaches closed recently and damage occurred at Crescent City, Calif. as the result of a tsunami that raced at a 500 mph pace through the Pacific from Japan, reaching California and forcing closure of beaches up and down the coast in precautionary measures.

Millions of Californians are Japanese Americans, and Japanese visitors are one of California's favorite guests. They are known to spend more on our shores (per capita) than other tourists. As our hearts go out to our brothers and sisters in Japan who cope with the aftermath of a devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake, Californians are tense and nervous, knowing we are overdue for a major earthquake.

Our connections with the world go well beyond Japan, however. In my neighborhood, my next door neighbors include an Egyptian, a Brit, a woman who moved from China to the U.S. as a child, and descendants of immigrants from around the world.

One of California's unique immigrant groups is the Russians, who built Fort Ross on the California coast near Jenner. Located in Sonoma County, Fort Ross is a complex of buildings that include a church, visitors center and historic artifacts from Russian settlement in the area.

Russian Ivan Alexandrovich Kuskov established Fort Ross colony in California in March of 1812. He arrived with a party of 25 Russians, many of them craftsmen, plus 80 native Alaskans from Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands. For 30 years the company hunted sea otter, set up working farms, established relations with local Native Californians, traded with Spanish Californians and later the Mexican government as well as merchants who traveled to the North Pacific for the fur trade. Read more...>

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