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Palmer Sagoonick
Palmer Sagoonick

Palmer Sagoonick was interviewed on August 7, 2003 by William Schneider and Kumi Rattenbury at the Reindeer Herder's House in Nome, Alaska. Palmer lives in Shaktoolik, Alaska, but took a break from his crab boat to come into Nome for this interview. In this interview, Palmer talks about his family's history of reindeer herding, dealing with the loss of a herd, and the effects of climate change on the reindeer herds and herding.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2000-102-32

Project: Reindeer Herding: The Present and the Past
Date of Interview: Aug 7, 2003
Narrator(s): Palmer Sagoonick
Interviewer(s): Bill Schneider, Kumi Rattenbury
Location of Interview:
Location of Topic:
Funding Partners:
National Science Foundation
Alternate Transcripts
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1) Herding in the family.

2) Father's involvement in herding.

3) Dealing with the loss of the herd.

4) Climate changes and reindeer herding.

5) Effects of weather on the reindeer and future of herding in the family.

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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.


Section 1: Palmer Sagoonick -- lives in Shaktoolik/ grandfather -- Shishmaref/ Lomen Company/ father -- Gustuv Sagoonick/ Lomen Herds -- sold/ father worked for John Katoogan/ Katoogan herd/ caribou -- took reindeer away/ Shaktoolik/ 3 generation involvement with herding/ grandfather -- Simon Sagoonick/ Lomen days/ paid locals for knowledge/ father --- saw changes/ from dog team to helicopter/ nomadic ways -- modern days/ income change/ harvest one reindeer a month -- past/ live off the land/ trade/ 30's to 40's -- herd decline/ Unalakleet/ couldn't sell reindeer -- 1937 Reindeer Act/ Lomen Archives|

Section 2: BIA/ John Katoogan/ Unalakleet -- Egavik area/ BIA -- asked father to take over herd/ Gustuf Sagoonick/ decline of the herd/ University/ healthy herd -- quality animals/ didn't cut horns/ harvested horn -- earned money/ meat market/ caribou migration -- new grazing areas/ Koyuk Herd -- taken over/ migration increased/ took over entire herd/ losing herd/ caribou -- overwhelming/ Hadley Herd/ Merlin Henry/ Shaktoolik/ butchered what was left/ renewed range license/ hopeful|

Section 3: Point Hope -- 800 reindeer/ village offers protection -- predators/ others ate the animals/ dog mushing/ Iditarod/ boat -- crab, halibut/ income/ terrain -- difficult to protect the reindeer/ Denbigh -- protected area/ father -- wintered reindeer in Cape Denbigh/ overgrazed the area/ lichen -- years to grow/ quality herd -- well fed/ didn't move herd -- caribou migration danger/ herding instinct/ trees -- difficult to herd|

Section 4: 50 or 60 years -- weather change/ warmer now/caribou -- range further/ freeze-up -- later/ early thaw/ snow machine -- use limited/ reindeer fawn -- late April/ bear -- predators/ difficult to protect animals/ fall time -- access/ herd -- growing/ over grazing/ herd moved more often -- late fall/ grass lakes -- dried up lakes/ reindeer -- feed on grass/ high nutrition/ grass would grow back/ caribou -- took over grass lakes/ shifting of land/ water flow -- changes/ beaver dams/ heavy rains/ weather changes -- lakes drying|

Section 5: frost -- destroys berries/ less snow fall -- more ice/ reindeer -- can't get lichen/ change style of herding/ children -- 4 boys/ son -- pilot/ family history/ reindeer herding -- wait till the caribou migration changes/ seaweed -- salt/ tidal grass -- provides salt/ weather -- always different/ no typical year/ springtime -- handle deer/ predation -- wolves, bear, ravens/ fawning season -- check deer/ summertime -- break/ fall -- corral/ vaccinate/ castrate/ tag/ count herd/ summer corralling -- horn market/ winter handling -- no mosquitoes/ less pressure/ draw blood/ markings/ helping with studies/ fall access -- limited by late freeze-up|