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Kaktovik is located on the north shore of Barter Island, between the Okpilak and Jago Rivers on the Beaufort Sea coast. It the only village located within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Temperatures range from -56 to 78 °F and precipitation is light, 5 inches/year, including snowfall averaging 20 inches. Barter Island was an important stop for commercial whalers during the 1890's and early 1900's, but it was not until 1923 that there was a permanent settlement there. Today, Kaktovik has approximately 250 residents, most of who are Inupiat Eskimos whose families have lived in the region for centuries.

The village was incorporated in 1971. Alaska Natives comprise approximately 85% of the population. In 1968, the tiny, secluded village of Kaktovik changed dramatically with the discovery of the largest oil field in the history of North America at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Until the late nineteenth century, the island was a major trade center for the Inupiat from Alaska and Inuit from Canada. During the 1890's and early 1900's, Barter Island was a key trading point, and residents of the region came to rely on the ability to obtain trade goods. Contact with whalers and traders resulted in a profound effect on the culture, as it did in other villages throughout north Alaska. Reindeer herding was attempted during the early 20th century, but it was an unsuccessful endeavor. For more detailed information on the village of Kaktovik and its history see the links below.

Subsistence hunting is vital part of life for the people of Kaktovik. Both marine and terrestrial animals are hunted. Terrestrial animals include: Musk oxen, caribou, and sheep. Marine resources are bountiful. Seal, walrus, and the largest of the sea mammals, whales, are important resources. Unlike most other AEWC villages, the people of Kaktovik practice shore-based whaling for bowheads whales in the fall as opposed to the spring. Kaktovik is allotted 3 whales per year by the AEWC.

Harold Kaveolook School is located in Kaktovik. Students from kindergarten through 12th grade attend the school which is part of the North Slope Borough School District.

Hall, Edwin S. & Frisch, Norm. 1987. A Land Full of People, a Long Time Ago: an Analysis of Three Archaeological Sites in the Vicinity of Kaktovik, Northern Alaska. Brockport, NY: E. Hall and Associates.

Impact Assessment, Inc. 1990. Subsistence Resource Harvest Patterns : Kaktovik : Final Special Report. Submitted to U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, Alaska OCS Region Anchorage, AK : The Region.

Libbey, David. 1982. Kaktovik Area Cultural Resource Survey. Barrow, AK : North Slope Borough Planning Dept.

Pedersen, Sverre; Coffing, Michael; & Thompson, Jane. 1985. Subsistence Land Use and Place Names Maps for Kaktovik, Alaska. Fairbanks, AK: Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, Division of Subsistence. Technical paper (Alaska. Dept. of Fish and Game. Subsistence Division), No. 109.

From the National Weather Service
From the Weather Underground
Barter Island Climatology

Sea Ice:
Sea Ice conditions for AK, images from the last 14 days
Sea ice map from NOAA
Sea Ice forecast models for AK - 1 through 6 day forecasts

City of Kaktovik
Inupiat of Barter Island
Kaktovik Whaling
Village description by Norman Chance
From AK Dept. of Community and economic Development
Harold Kaveolook School