49 Voices: Palmer and Fena Sagoonick of Shaktoolik

Now it’s time for 49 voices, this week we’re hearing from Palmer and Fena Sagoonick. The husband and wife live in Shaktoolik.

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Palmer and Fena Sagoonick (Photo courtesy of Frontier of Change)
Palmer and Fena Sagoonick (Photo courtesy of Frontier of Change)

FENA: We have four children and we’ve got about 15 grandchildren, plus one great. And we live here and this is our home.

PALMER: A lot of people that come from another region say this is a harsh lifestyle because of the environment, because of what’s available here. But as children, we never looked at it that way. I mean, everyone has so much memories from childhood. There’s no cars, no radios, electricity, television. Then we were, some would say, free-roaming. We lived a subsistence lifestyle in where we could live off the land year-round.

In the summer, I grew up barefoot. We were in fish camps. We weren’t here in the community. We were up-river putting up fish and subsisting all summer. We walked out in the tundra a lot over the years. Cold and clear and you can here the crunch of your steps. And it didn’t melt til June.

FENA: We won’t have this type of weather we grew up with before.

PALMER: Lakes that once held water, the water drained out.

FENA: From the first mountain, ground just hanging where they used to have permafrost. That was weird to see.

PALMER: That berm is all sand. It’ll take one or two big waves to wash it off. So it’s cosmetics, if you will. To help people feel that they’re safer, it’s not making us safer.

FENA: But we have to think of the future. Our kids, we don’t know what. Out grand-kids, we don’t know what.

This segment was provided by KNBA’s series Frontier of Change.

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