Elder Voices
Airs: The last Tuesday of every month, 6pm & 10pm

Davis Sockpick

first broadcast Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Interview by Matthew Smith

In this episode
Davis Sockpick
Davis Sockpick at the 2004 Bering Strait Elders and Youth Conference. Sockpick's interview - featured in our episode of Elder Voices - was conducted in November 2011.
Davis Sockpick was born and raised in Shishmaref. He spent his childhood subsisting with his family: hunting, trapping, making everything by hand, preparing all summer for the long winter, and taking care of his sled dogs. With no real income to speak of, he practiced carving, and he was able to supplement his family's diet with luxuries like sugar and tea with the money he made selling his work. Though he learned to hunt from his father, Davis recalls always preferring to hunt alone: his dog team was all the help he needed.

Running dogs with his uncle – legendary musher Herbie Nayokpuk, the "Shishmaref Cannonball" – was a highlight of Davis's youth. He even accompanied his uncle to Nome and helped tend the dogs during a 1958 race sponsored by the Nome Kennel Club. He says the link between man and dog is something special, something that saved him more than once during those solo hunting trips around Shishmaref over the years.

As a young man, Davis began a career in law enforcement that would take him from Shishmaref to Nome, from Barrow to Anchorage, working jobs in corrections and airport security, as well as years with the Nome Police Department and working security for the pipeline in the 70s. He has tried to raise his children and grandchildren with a traditional lifestyle, but he says kids today are growing up in "two different worlds": one of western culture and one of traditional culture. He reflects on his youth, and how working as a community, and respect for elders, helped him become a man, a father, and a grandfather.

Religion, Davis says, should be an essential part of everyone's life, and he links the turn away from religion seen today to issues that threaten traditional lifestyles in Shishmaref, as well as the village's sense of community. And he says the need for unity goes beyond the local level: he thinks it needs to happen on a national and political level as well. He likens that need for unity to his old hunting days. He may have enjoyed hunting alone in his youth, but he encourages his kids and grandkids to go hunting together today: working together, helping one another, making everyone's efforts easier and more successful.

Davis Sockpick was interviewed in November 2011.

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