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Thomas "Paniattaaq" Brower, Sr.

Thomas Brower, Sr.

Thomas "Tom" Brower, Sr. (Paniattaaq) was born in 1904 to Asiaŋŋataq and Charles Brower, Sr. in Barrow, Alaska (Utqiaġvik). His main associations with the Ikpikpak came when he was managing the reindeer herd for his father, but perhaps even earlier when he was learning about the land from his uncle and old timer, Alex Ahsoak. Ahsoak was Tom's mother's brother, and he and two other uncles taught Tom how to live out on the land.  Charlie Edwardsen notes: "He (Alex Ahsoak) used to take Tom Brower out trapping when he was a kid. And they used to trap there (at the site of Ahsoak)."

Tom felt that he was fortunate to learn these things from his uncles while learning business initiative from his father. Tom mentioned how his father valued his son's knowledge of how to get along on the land and one time tested him. In 1918, when Tom was 14 years old, his father asked him if he would like to go with Bert Panigeo to take the mail by dogteam to Kotzebue, carrying the excess mail on his sled. After completing that trip, Charles Brower saw that Tom could survive pretty well. When Bert and Tom returned to Barrow, they brought the good news that World War I was over, and the bad news that the influenza of 1918 was killing people from Nome to Cape Prince of Wales.

As a young boy, Tom gained quite a bit of experience in his father's business. He traveled on one of the last trading trips to the Iñupiaq trade fair at Niġliq in 1910 or 1911. He went in a double-ended whaler's sailing boat. They brought sea mammal oil and store goods such as lead and powder. They exchanged these goods for furs and hides.  On that trip, they went as far east as Collinson Point. It was one of the last trading trips; after that, the trading posts replaced the trade fairs. In later years, Tom traveled on the company ships that supplied the trading posts.

Tom fell heir to the reindeer herd, and like Charlie Edwardsen, Sr. and Arnold Brower, Sr., he found there was a lot to be learned. As Tom said: "Dad had to send the two boys and two girls from his first wife (Taktuk) to his sister so they could get their education, and I fell heir to them (the reindeer herd). As I grew up, I saw how dad was working with the reindeer, and then later in the early twenties, I had to take over."
 After working for his dad for a while, Tom decided to go trapping; he knew that with fur prices at $55.00 a pelt, he could earn more money. Charles Brower was disappointed, but later on offered Tom the chance to take over the herd, with the stipulation that Tom pay $20,000 to cover the losses that his father had experienced in the herding business. Tom agreed and was able to pay back the debt through money he earned by trapping.

Tom lived at Half Moon Three Ranch on the Alaqtaq River, and he directed the herding until between 1946 and 1947 when he turned the herd over to his sons. They had it until 1951. Tom and his wife, Kate, and their family moved into Barrow, where Tom ran Brower's Store and started Cape Smythe Flying Service. Tom and his family kept in touch with the Ikpikpak area by maintaining a house at Alaqtaq-Half Moon Three, continuing to go hunting and fishing in the area, and as a pilot Tom flew extensively over the area.
 Thomas Brower, Sr., passed away in 1991.

(Biographical section from Quliaqtuat Iñupiat Nunaŋiññiñ - The Report of the Chipp-Ikpikpuk River and Upper Meade River Oral History Project. W. Arundale and W. Schneider, 1987.)

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