The Russian settlement at Fort Ross was established 200 years ago. This week, historians, anthropologists and a host of other specialists who have made a study of the Fort and its 30 year presence on the coast have gathered in Santa Rosa to share what they have learned.
The Fort Ross Bicentennial Conference, underway this week at Santa Rosa's downtown conference center, has brought together an international group of scholars and researchers. One of the key presenters, Alexander Petrov, director of the Center for North American Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, says nothing like it has been done before.
The Fort Ross colony was a rare confluence of cultures—Russian, Spanish, Miwok, Pomo, and in later years, westward migrating European immigrants, as well as the Alaskan native hunters brought south by the Russian settlers. All that makes it an intriguing subject for researchers from a wide range of disciplines. But emeritus Professor James Gibson, of Toronto's York University, says the historic outpost holds a quite different attraction for Russian visitors.