Our Communities

Alaska’s North Slope is a vast and ancient land that the Iñupiat have called home for more than 10,000 years. It is located on the northern slope of the Brooks Range, along the coast of the Chukchi Sea on the western side of Point Barrow, and the Beaufort Sea to the east. There are eight distinct villages in our region, each with a unique story to tell.

Anaktuvuk Pass (Anaqtuuvak)

The community of Anaktuvuk Pass is located in the central Brooks Range, inside the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. This village of fewer than 325 people is located on a migratory caribou route and is the permanent settlement of the Nunamiut, the ancestral nomadic Iñupiat of the region. During the early 1900s, the Nunamiut left the Brooks Range mostly due to the collapse of the caribou population. By the 1940s, several Nunamiut families returned to the area and settled at Anaktuvuk Pass. The village corporation of the area, Nunamiut Corporation, owns approximately 92,000 acres of surface lands in and around the community.


Atqasuk is located on the Meade River, about 60 miles to the southwest of Utqiaġvik. Atqasuk is an Iñupiat hunting and fishing ground. Abandoned sod houses, an old cellar and gravesite near the village provide evidence of an early settlement here. During World War II, coal was mined in the community and freighted to Utqiaġvik. During the next 10 years, the village existed under the name of Meade River. Although the population dwindled in the 1960s, former residents from Utqiaġvik moved to the community in the 1970s and re-established the village under the name of Atqasuk. Atqasuk’s residents rely heavily on subsistence and enjoy berry picking, hunting caribou, ptarmigan, ducks and geese. They also fish for grayling, burbot, salmon and whitefish in the Meade River. Atqasuk Corporation is the local village corporation.

Kaktovik (Qaaktuġvik)

Kaktovik is 280 miles southeast of Utqiaġvik and 90 miles west of the Canadian border on the coast in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The residents of Kaktovik and their ancestors are the indigenous inhabitants of the region. They rely on the bounty of the land and find sustenance within ANWR. The bowhead whale, caribou, dall sheep, muskoxen and the fish of the region are a vital food source to the Kaktovikmiut. Kaktovik Iñupiat Corporation is the village corporation of the area.

Nuiqsut (Nuiqsat)

Nuiqsut is located on the Colville River Delta, 136 miles to the southeast of Utqiaġvik. The Colville River Delta is a traditional gathering place for the Iñupiat and is an excellent place to hunt and fish. During the early 20th century, Christian missionaries were introduced to the Utqiaġvik region. This movement, along with the emergence of healthcare services and schools provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, prompted the Iñupiat from Nuiqsut to immigrate to Utqiaġvik. In 1973, 27 Iñupiat families moved back to Nuiqsut from Barrow, and lived in tents – braving the elements for a year and a half. In 1974, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation funded construction of the village, and Nuiqsut was incorporated as a second-class city a year later. Today, approximately 400 residents call Nuiqsut home. Kuukpik Village Corporation is the village corporation of the area. The Alpine Oil Field is eight miles from the village of Nuiqsut and a portion of the oil field is on lands owned by Kuukpik Corporation and ASRC. Production from the Alpine oil field began in 2001.

Point Lay (Kali)

Point Lay is located 152 miles southwest of Utqiaġvik on the Chukchi Sea coast, protected from the ocean by the Kasugaluk Lagoon. Kali, the Iñupiat name for the village, means “mound” and refers to the elevated mound on which it stands. It is probably the last remaining village of the Kuukpaagruk people. The Kalimiut traditionally hunt beluga whales and is similar to the Bowhead whaling culture in other North Slope villages. In 2009, after 72 years, the village of Point Lay was able to celebrate the successful harvest of a bowhead whale. The Atkaan Crew, captained by Julius Rexford, shared this long-awaited harvest with the community during Nalukataq, which marks the end of a successful spring whaling season. Cully Corporation is the village corporation of the area.

Point Hope (Tikiġaq)

Tikiġaq, or Point Hope, is located on the western coast of the Arctic Slope region. Scientific studies confirm Tikiġaq is the longest continually inhabited area in North America. The Iñupiat came to this area to hunt Bowhead whales some 2,500 years ago. Visiting Point Hope, you will learn about Old Tigara, Jabbertown and Ipiutak – prehistoric sites that were inhabited around 600 BC. Ipiutak and the surrounding archaeological district are on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to the prehistoric village sites, there are old burial grounds in the area. Erosion and a threat of storm flooding from the Chukchi Sea led to its relocation to higher ground in the mid 70s. Tikiġaq Corporation is the village corporation in the area. The community comes together in the summer to celebrate Qagruġvik, the feast held at the end of a successful whaling season. Other cultural activities include boating, camping, fishing, hunting, and native arts and crafts.

Utqiaġvik (Barrow)

The community of Utqiaġvik is the home of ASRC’s headquarters, the North Slope Borough and the North Slope Borough School District. Utqiaġvik is the northernmost community in the United States and is the largest village on the Arctic Slope with around 4,700 residents. In 1825, the town was named after Sir John Barrow of the British Admiralty. Frederick William Beechey, a British Royal Navy captain, gave the village its English name. At the time, Beechey was plotting the Arctic coastline in search of the Northwest Passage. Construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line and exploration in the National Petroleum Reserve brought new people to the region. During this same time, the Naval Arctic Research Lab (NARL) was built near Barrow. That facility is now the home of Iļisaġvik College. Although Barrow is a modern community, subsistence hunting, fishing and whaling are still very important to the local economy. Many residents continue to hunt and fish for their food. During the summer months, tour operators offer package tours of Barrow and the surrounding area. To learn more about the region, be sure to stop by the Iñupiat Heritage Museum.

Wainwright (Ulġuniq)

Wainwright is located along a wave-eroded coastal bluff on the west side of a narrow peninsula, which separates Wainwright Inlet from the Chukchi Sea. Captain F.W. Beechey named the inlet in 1826 for his officer, Lt. John Wainwright. The present village was established in 1904 when the Alaska Native Service built a school there. In early summer, the community gathers for Nalukataq, the feast after a successful whaling season. At this festival and on other occasions, villagers perform traditional Iñupiat dances. Other activities include boating, snowmobiling, hunting, camping, smelt fishing in the spring, and native arts and crafts. The Olgoonik Corporation is the village corporation of the area.

Point Lay (Kali) Wainwright (Ulġuniq) Utqiaġvik (Barrow) Nuiqsut (Nuiqsat) Anaktuvuk Pass (Anaqtuuvak) Atqasuk Kaktovik (Qaaktuġvik) Point Hope (Tikiġaq)