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.
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 :
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 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
Village description by Norman Chance
From AK Dept. of Community and economic Development
Harold Kaveolook School