Historical Spotlight: Teddy Sockpick

June 3, 2014by Media

Teddy Sockpick was an ivory carver known for his scrimshaw miniatures of wildlife, landscapes, and subsistence activities. Born in 1907 in Wales, Sockpick later became the only survivor in his family. In 1918, at the age of 11, he became an orphan as the 1918 influenza epidemic swept through the village, killing nearly 200 Wales residents. He then moved to Shishmaref, where he lived with friends and relatives and met Holly Nayokpuk, who later became his wife. Sockpick was described as an introvert but was a skillful hunter. During one hunt, Sockpick walked for two days on the Bering Sea ice where he found a breathing hole and shot an oogruk “bearded seal.” The oogruk could not fit through the opening so Sockpick used his axe to widen the ice hole. Although he had a long walk back home, Sockpick was not worried because he had plenty to sustain him.

During his later years, Sockpick worked on gold dredges during the Gold Rush and then at the school district in Nome until he retired. He passed down his valuable knowledge, including carving, to his son Davis and his grandson Gary, who is also a well-known carver. His great-granddaughter Theresa Olanna is working toward her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Teddy Sockpick passed away on June 14, 1988.

 

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BSNC is headquartered in Nome, has a business office in Anchorage and site locations and offices across the U.S.
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