The History of Kivalina

Kivalina is at the tip of an 8-mile barrier reef located between the Chukchi Sea and Kivalina River. It lies 80 air miles northwest of Kotzebue. It lies at approximately 67 43' N Latitude, 164 32' W Longitude (Sec. 21, T027N, R026W, Kateel River Meridian). The community is located in the Kotzebue Recording District. The area encompasses 2 sq. miles of land and 3 sq. miles of water.

Kivalina has long been a stopping-off place for seasonal travelers between arctic coastal areas and Kotzebue Sound communities. It is the only village in the region where people hunt the bowhead whale. At one time, the village was located at the north end of the Kivalina Lagoon. It was reported as "Kivualinagmut" in 1847 by Lt. Zagoskin of the Russian Navy. Lt. G.M. Stoney of the U.S. Navy reported the village as "Kuveleek" in 1885. A post office was established in 1940. An airstrip was built in 1960. Kivalina incorporated as a City in 1969. During the 1970s, new houses, a new school and an electric system were constructed in the village. Prior to 1976, high school students from Noatak would attend school in Kivalina, and board with local families. Due to severe erosion, the City intends to relocate -- a new site has been selected 7.5 miles away. Funds have been provided by various federal and state agencies since the early 1990s to assess relocation alternatives and to design and engineer the new site.


To Community Histories Index Alaska DCCED Community Database Online


History and map graphic used with permission from the Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development