The History of Point Lay

Point Lay is located south of the Kokolik River mouth, about 300 miles southwest of Barrow. It lies at approximately 69 45' N Latitude, 163 03' W Longitude (Sec. 26, T005N, R045W, Umiat Meridian). The community is located in the Barrow Recording District. The area encompasses 17 sq. miles of land and 33 sq. miles of water.

Point Lay is one of the more recently established Inupiaq villages on the Arctic coast, and has historically been occupied year round by a small group of one or two families. They were joined in 1929-30 by several more families from Point Hope. The deeply indented shoreline has prevented effective whaling, and the village never fully participated in the whaling culture. In 1974, the village moved from the old site on a gravel barrier island just offshore. The old village site is now used as a summer hunting camp. Some residents of Barrow and Wainwright relocated to the village in the mid-1970s. Due to seasonal flooding from the Kokolik River, in the late 1970s the village relocated again to a site near the Air Force Distance Early Warning station to the south. Homes were relocated to the new townsite.

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