BSNC Honors 2017 Elders of the Year

October 26, 2017by Media


In appreciation for all your accomplishments in maintaining our traditional lifestyle and the determination to share your valuable knowledge with our youth in preserving our culture and heritage of the Bering Straits Region.

Ruth Bernhardt

Robert S. Amarok

Robert “Bobby” Amarok was born Sept. 4, 1948 to Agnes and Stanley Amarok of Golovin. Bobby is the proud father to Mara, Lisa, Gary, Dorothy, Stanley, Season and has 18 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.

Bobby graduated high school from Chemawa Indian School in 1968. Soon after graduating from high school, he was drafted to the Army and served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971.

He was a commercial fisherman for years and taught his children to drive the boat, set the net, and would sing when there were many fish in the net. He later hung his rain gear so his children can hold the commercial permit. He still gives advice and watches over when his children are in the ocean.

Bobby served on the Golovin Native Corporation Board, Chinik Eskimo Community, Kawerak Board of Directors, Norton Sound Health Corporation Board and Bering Straits Regional Housing Authority.

He still continues to be a happy role model for his children and grandchildren and now great‐grandchild.

Agatha Aluraq Kokuluk

Agatha Aluraq Kokuluk was born in Nome, Alaska on July 11, 1935 but celebrates her birthday on Aug. 10, 1935, (no one is sure why) to John and Magdeline Alvanna.

She was raised on King Island, but moved to Nome in the early 1960’s with her late husband, Raphael Sebwenna. Together they had 8 children: 5 boys and 3 girls.

After the death of her husband, she married Charles Kokuluk and together they had one boy. She has 19 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

Agatha taught all of her children to speak Inupiaq and to live our subsistence way of life. She taught by example, telling her kids to watch and learn.

She worked at the Nugget Inn as a maid, at Norton Sound Health Corporation in the laundry room and finally at the XYZ Center as a kitchen aide.

She is kind, caring and loving person with a sense of humor that makes everyone around her laugh.

Vincent Jones Tocktoo, Sr.

Vincent Kikituk Jones Tocktoo, Sr. was born to his late parents, Eddie and Grace Tocktoo on March 10, 1915 in Shishmaref, Alaska. At boyhood, he was raised by his grandparents in the West Fork at the Serpentine River to help provide subsistence food for them. His late wife, Molly A. Tocktoo, of nearly 60 years, shared his subsistence way of life and harvested food of all four seasons. They taught their children and grandchildren to hunt animals from the land and sea. Today, Vincent continues to provide guidance and advice to his grandchildren and great grandchildren to practice his traditional and cultural ways of life.

At age of 19, Vincent began his career as a cook at the Kuzitran Mining Camp near Nome, Alaska. He learned to prepare entrees and desserts from scratch. Today, he continues to cook his daily breakfast for himself and live an independent life. He later joined the Alaska Territorial Guard and retired from the National Guard after serving 35 years in the military.

Vincent became politically involved with local and regional organizations for a majority of his life. He served decades with the Shishmaref Elder Advisory Committee. At his elderly age, he currently is active with the Kawerak Elders Advisory Committee and proud to represent Shishmaref and the Bering Straits Region.

Today, Vincent is active with sharing his educational life experiences with the Shishmaref School staff and students. He never refuses to share his knowledge of living his traditional way of life. His spiritual life leads him to prosper longevity amongst his family and friends.

Vincent’s accomplishments of his dedicated service continues for his people and region in many ways. He is active and never misses attendance at his Elder Advisory Committee meetings and weekly church services.

Sadie J. Reddaway

Sadie Reddaway, one of 14 children of Bert and Lydia Bell, was born in Nome, 1939. Her father was born in Solomon in 1902 and passed away in Nome in 1956. Her mother, Lydia, was born in St. Michael in 1905, passing away in 1976.

Sadie grew up in Nome and married Bob Reddaway. Together they patiently and lovingly raised three children, Clark, Keith and Tracey. Raised in the family business, the kids learned the importance of working hard and the importance of making time for family, whether it is sharing a meal, berry picking together, camping, or a picnic on the beach. Leading by example, Sadie also taught her children the importance of service in our community and being generous in sharing with others.

In addition to raising a family, Sadie and Bob owned and operated a hardware store,
Builders Industrial Supply. She also worked for Nome Public Schools and for the Nome Joint Utilities as a bookkeeper.

She has been active in Bering Sea Women’s Group working as their bookkeeper in the late 80’s and served on the board for many years. As a board member, she helped with dozens of fundraisers to ensure that the shelter remained open to provide services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In past years, she was involved with Beta Sigma Phi, a sorority chapter in Nome, that was active in service-oriented community events. She was also a member of the American Cancer Society for years, raising money to support cancer awareness and prevention.

Sadie is long time member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Nome and actively
participates in bible studies, women’s group activities, and other activities related to church ministry including cooking for the Nome Emergency Shelter guests on a regular basis.

Sadie models grace, a quiet strength and humility. She does not like to be out in front of things, but you can be sure she is not afraid to make her voice heard. She also reminds others to keep challenges in perspective, that there is always someone out there who has it worse. She often reminds her children and grandchildren to count their blessings. She carries herself with a spirit of grace and thankfulness, even when faced with difficult times.

Lawrence W. Abouchuk

Lawrence W. Abouchuk, 72, was born and raised in Saint Michael, Alaska. His parents were Billy and Martha Abouchuk. He has lived in St Michael his whole life.
Lawrence was in the military for a while but was discharged at the age of 20 years old. He was also a heavy equipment operator in his late 20’s.

Rose C. Okbaok

Rose was born in Mary’s Igloo, Alaska on June 4, 1941. She is 76 years old. Her dad was born in Mary’s Igloo and so was her mom. Her mother’s last name was Malony.

She does not go berry picking anymore, but she still always tries to attend meetings whenever she can. She has not gone boating going on her thirteenth year. She used to spend a lot of time walking but has slowed down some. She also used to eat “any” kind of food but now she is picky as she reads a lot of what is printed in the newspaper.

Rose says that only once in a great while does she go to school events because it is too noisy.

Raymond Seetook, Sr.

Raymond Seetook Sr. was born on July 28, 1946 in Wales, Alaska to Andrew and Mabel Seetook along with had six brothers and six sisters. He has lived in Wales all his life.

Raymond went to the Chemawa, Oregon High School for two years. For several years, he served on the Search and Rescue Committee as President, the Commissioner for the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Association of Wales for the past three years and has been attending meetings since the 1980’s. He is also an Elder Advisor for the Native Village of Wales for the past three years.

Raymond lives the subsistence way of life to provide for his family and also because he loves to eat native food all the time. Throughout his life, among all the subsistence hunts, he successfully landed three or four gray whales and seven bowhead whales. When his hunts were successful he would acknowledge and appreciate the fact that he has been blessed, not only for his family, but for the whole community. He also hunted a lot of polar bears in his lifetime as his family enjoyed the meat it provided.

Raymond’s words of advice: “Be respectful of your Elders and to one another. We as Elders also have to respect one another and try to pass on and teach what we have learned to the best of our knowledge.”

Thomas R. Brown, Jr.

Thomas Roy Brown Jr., “Gowk” was born Sept. 4, 1946 to Thomas and Esther M. (Kowchee) Brown.  Gowk’s siblings are the late Clara Brown, Velma Brown, Paul “Jack” Brown, Phillip Brown, Carl Brown, late Roy Brown, Enid (Brown) Lincoln, Charlie Brown, and Wilma (Brown) Osborne, and countless nieces and nephews.  His Eskimo name is Gowkatak after his dad’s uncle, but everyone calls him Gowk to shorten it.

Gowk graduated from Mount Edgecumbe High School in 1965. His first jobs were working as a Cannery Worker, Fisherman and Longshoreman.  Gowk was the Assistant Manager for the AC Hardware Store for a brief time; he also worked as a Meteorological Technician for the Weather Service for 13 years.  His duty Stations were located across the State of Alaska: Bettles, Unalakleet, Barrow, Kodiak, Summit, Nome and Shemya. Gowk was also the City Clerk for the City of White Mountain for a brief while until he slowly started having health issues.  On April, 10, 1979, Gowk married Ruth Racheal Paniptchuk in Shaktoolik. Ruth and sister, Leeta, died in a car accident in Nome on Aug. 12, 1979. They were married 4 months and 2 days. Ruth’s children, Christopher and Shyel, were raised by grandparents, Franklin and Jessie (Sockpealuk) Paniptchuk, Sr.

Ruth and Gowk’s words of advice:  “No matter how hard life becomes, keep looking forward. Like Dad would always say ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’ It is good to see the younger generations continue living off of the land by fishing, hunting and gathering edible plants and berries. Subsistence is good for the whole Village. Keep learning no matter how old you become, as an Elder I am still learning.”

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3301 C Street, Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99503
PO Box 1008. 110 Front Street, Suite 300, Nome, Alaska 99762
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OFFICESBering Straits Native Corporation
OFFICESWhere to find us?
BSNC is headquartered in Nome, has a business office in Anchorage and site locations and offices across the U.S.
OUR LOCATIONSWhere to find us?
3301 C Street, Suite 100, Anchorage, AK 99503
PO Box 1008. 110 Front Street, Suite 300, Nome, Alaska 99762
GET IN TOUCHStay Connected
Follow BSNC for news, updates, stories, and opportunities to share in this journey.
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