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Location: Within the boundaries of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, on the northern coast of Barter Island in the Beaufort Sea, immediately off the main coast between the Okpilak and Jago Rivers. Air service is available from Barrow and Fairbanks. Population: 308. Visitor Information: City of Kaktovik Phone: (907) 640-6317; north-slope.org
While Barter Island had long been an important trading center for the Inupiat Eskimo and Canadian Inuit, and the general area of the townsite a long-established fishing ground, it wasn’t until the 1920s that Kaktovik’s first permanent residents were drawn to settle there, the population later augmented by construction of a runway and Distant Early Warning (DEW) system station in the 1950s.
The isolated village has maintained Inupiat traditions, language and comfortable subsistence lifestyle centered around fishing, hunting of caribou, moose, musk ox and Dall sheep, and harvesting walrus, seal and bowhead whale. Guide services for fishing, hunting, camping and cultural tours, including whale watching, polar bear viewing and traditional boating to nearby communities can be arranged in Kaktovik. Accommodations and food services are also available.