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Palmer Sagoonick is Iñupiaq and was born in 1946 in Shaktoolik, Alaska. His grandfather, Simon Sagoonick, was from the Shishmaref area but herded for the Lomen Company around Shaktoolik and settled there. Palmer's father, Gustav Sagoonick, herded the Lomen reindeer with his father until around 1937 when the Lomen's shut down their herding operation. Gustav then went to work for a herder from Unalakleet, John Katoogan, when that herd was around Shaktoolik. Eventually, the Bureau of Indian Affairs came around and asked his father to take over the remains of Katoogan's herd, which is the same herd Palmer managed for about twenty-five years until it was lost to infiltration by caribou. Palmer grew up living a traditional subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing and running a dogteam. He has also operated a crab boat out of Nome, trained dogs for running in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and been a big game guide. He has served on local, regional and state school boards, and enjoys sled building, boat building and ivory carving.