Nuiqsut

Aerial view of Nuiqsut in the summer. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Aerial view of Nuiqsut in the summer. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Nuiqsut is located on the west bank of the Nechilik Channel of the Colville River Delta, about 18 miles inland from the Beaufort Sea coast. It is about 135 miles southeast of Barrow and 60 miles west of Prudhoe Bay. The Colville River delta traditionally was a hunting, fishing, gathering, and trading place for the Inupiat Eskimo, but the old village of Nuiqsut (Itqilippaa) was abandoned in the late 1940s because there was no school. In conjunction with the 1972 Native Claims Settlement Act, Nuiqsut was resettled in 1973 by 27 families from Barrow who hauled their supplies over by tractor and snowmachine. They lived in tents for a year until permanent facilities could be built. The city was incorporated in 1975, but also is under the jurisdiction of the North Slope Borough, and has a federally recognized tribe.

Boat put away for the winter in Nuiqsut. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Boat put away for the winter in Nuiqsut. Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Nuiqsut remains a mostly Inupiat community closely tied to tradition and dependent upon subsistence resources, despite being the closest community to the Alpine, Kuparuk, and Prudhoe Bay oil fields. Like their ancestors, people in Nuiqsut still hunt bowhead whales in the fall time based at Cross Island, about 73 miles northeast in the Beaufort Sea. The 2011 population was estimated at 434

Unfortunately, the material at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is limited with regard to Nuiqsut, so elders were not brought in to look at collections. Material related to the history of Nuiqsut may be available at the North Slope Borough’s Inupiat History, Language and Culture Commission (IHLC) and their Inupiat Heritage Center in Barrow, Alaska at (907) 852-0422

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