Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

Tommie Sheldon

Tommie was born on April 28, 1926 to Tommie and Nellie Ward Sheldon Atoruk. His birthplace was in Kiana at the location commonly referred to today as the "old village." His father died before Tommie was born but soon after his mother married Peter Atoruk, also of Kiana. Their marriage brought together two families and many children. As a result, Tommie has many siblings, among them Elwood and Roger Atoruk, Norma Atoruk Stagnero and Stella Atoruk Dugish. Step-siblings: Wilbur, Michael, and Ben Atoruk. Tommie grew up in Kiana and spent parts of his childhood living in Noorvik with his grandparents, Paniaq and Mary Sheldon. As a boy, Tommie attended the Kiana school. Like many of his generation, he completed grades up to junior high. Soon after leaving school he began work as a custodian. He remarks that his first year's earnings in that job were paid, not in cash, but in the form of one 100-pound sack of flour and one 100-pound sack of sugar. Over the years, Tommie worked for a time as an emergency fire fighter for the Bureau of Land Management. In that job, he occasionally got to fight wildland fires in the Lower 48, in places like Montana and Idaho. For sixteen years, he worked for the School District as Maintenance Technician. He has also worked for the City of Kiana as Light Plant and Water and Sewer Operator and was a member of the Laborers Union. Tommie has been active in several local organizations: he served on the Kiana City Council and has been a longtime member and co-founder of the Kiana Elders Council. In addition to the local Elders Council, he has also been involved with the NANA Regional Elders Council and has represented his community in travels to places such as Canada, Greenland, Anchorage, and Kotzebue. His concern for the health and welfare of future generations is shown in his dedication and work with many organizations dealing with difficult issues such as suicide prevention, FAS/FAE, and anti-drug teachings, among others. He is often asked to speak at conferences on various subjects and has served on Maniilaq's Task Force on Suicide Prevention. On January 31, 1957, Tommie married Ella Sherman Sheldon. They had a large family together, both their own and adopted children, and they also have been raising some of their grandchildren.

Date of Birth:
Apr 28, 1926
Tommie Sheldon appears in the following new Jukebox projects: