Alaska: The Irresistible Pull of the Last Frontier

Posted By:  Tina Walker Davis
Date Posted:  4/18/2013

Elizabeth MarinoWhen Jack and Mabel, the main characters in Eowyn Ivey’s The Snow Child, arrived on their Alaska homestead in 1920, they hardly found themselves part of a swelling population. They left Pennsylvania and entered a vast wilderness to become two of only 55,000 people in the whole territory. But from the Gold Rush of the late 19th and early 20th centuries and continuing today, explorers and settlers have found themselves drawn to America’s largest and least densely populated state in pursuit of fortune, adventure, solitude and majestic beauty.

As part of the “A Novel Idea… Read Together” program, Deschutes Public Library is pleased to welcome OSU-Cascades instructor Elizabeth Marino for two presentations that will delve into the allure of Alaska. The programs are free and open to the public.

April 28, 2013 • 2:00 p.m.
La Pine Library

May 1, 2013 • 6:00 p.m.
Downtown Bend Library

Marino, cultural and environmental anthropologist with OSU Cascades, was one of the thousands of settlers who found themselves drawn to Alaska. In her presentation she will discuss what makes Alaska irresistible to so many people and why this last frontier continues to draw visitors and settlers alike. “There are both rewards and difficulties that come with leading a life in the Arctic,” says Marino. “And it’s changing even still, right before our eyes.”

Elizabeth Marino is a cultural and environmental anthropologist; she teaches at OSU Cascades. She received her PhD in cultural anthropology from University of Alaska at Fairbanks. She has researched the possible displacement of indigenous villages in Northwestern Alaska due to increasing erosion, storm activity and rising water, with a particular emphasis on government response to climate crisis. She has authored numerous articles and has contributed chapters to books, including Anthropology and Climate Change (Left Coast Press, 2009).

The 2013 “A Novel Idea” selection, The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey, takes place in Alaska during the 1920s as a couple homesteads an impossible land. Ivey carries the reader through the stark Alaska landscape without apology, threading the story together with a magical realism and hopeful persistence. Dozens of events between April 13 and May 4 invite residents of Deschutes County to explore the Alaska landscape, homesteading, art, food and more, culminating with a visit by author Ivey on May 3 and 4.

For more information about this or other library programs, please visit the library website at People with disabilities needing accommodations (alternative formats, seating or auxiliary aides) should contact Tina at 541-312-1034.

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