When Alaskan and Russian Native People Thawed the Cold War’s ‘Ice Curtain’
Citizen-Diplomats on Both Sides of the Bering Strait Eased U.S.-Soviet Relations—and Could Help Confront Climate Change
As the Russian city of Provideniya’s deteriorating concrete buildings came into view below, Darlene Pungowiyi Orr felt uneasy. So did the other 81 passengers landing in that isolated far-eastern Soviet outpost in 1988.
They were aboard the first American commercial jet to land there since the United States and USSR had imposed a Cold War “Ice Curtain” across the Bering Sea some 40 years earlier. Orr, a 26-year-old Siberian Yupik Alaska Native, grew up on the tip of Alaska’s St. Lawrence Island, the mountains of Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula visible on the …