Native Village of Kivalina


Kivalina is at the tip of an 8-mile barrier reef located between the Chukchi Sea and Kivalina River. It lies 80 miles northwest of Kotzebue. Kivalina, also known as Kivaliniq in Inupiaq, is a traditional Iñupiat Eskimo village.

Official Tribal Name: Native Village of Kivalina

Official Website:

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning: Kivaliniq
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Recognition Status: Federally Recognized

US Culture Region: Artic

Alaskan Ethnic Group: Eskimo

Alaskan Native Culture: Iñupiat Eskimo

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Alaska Native Regional Corporation: NANA Regional Corporation
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Language: Inupiaq


Kivalina is at the tip of an 8-mile barrier reef located between the Chukchi Sea and Kivalina River. It lies 80 miles northwest of Kotzebue.

Village History:

Kivalina has long been a stopping-off point for seasonal travelers between arctic coastal areas and Kotzebue Sound communities. At one time, the village was located at the north end of the Kivalina Lagoon.

Kivalina incorporated as a city in 1969.

During the 1970s, new houses, a new school, and an electric system were constructed in the village.

Due to severe erosion, the City intends to relocate to a new site 7.5 miles away. Funds have been provided by various federal and state agencies since the early 1990s to assess relocation options and to design and engineer the new site.

The People:

The population is currently about 398. In this traditional Iñupiat Eskimo village, subsistence activities, including whaling, provide most food sources.


Kivalina has a mayor/council form of government. The city has an administrator, a police officer, and a volunteer fire department.

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Transportation Services and Facilities:

The major means of transportation into the community is airplane and small boat. Flights from Kotzebue to Kivalina occur daily, while the Chukchi Sea is ice-free and open to boat traffic from mid-June to the first of November.

Small boats, ATV’s and snow machines are used for local travel. There are no roads that meet outer highways or any other villages. However, there are several trails that follow nearby rivers, as well as marked snow machine trails that connect to other villages, including Kotzebue.

Local Governmental Services:

Water is brought through a surface transmission line, which is treated and stored in a 600,000-gallon steel tank. The tank is filled each summer for the community’s winter water supply. One-third of homes have tanks to provide running water. Funds have been requested to develop a master plan for a piped water and sewer system at the relocation site.

Other Services and Utilities:

The Community Health Aide/Practitioner program (CHAP) operates eleven remote village clinics. Most clinics have a full time staff of two to four Health Aides who service about one-half of the total patient contacts.

All clinics are directly connected to the Maniilaq Health Center in Kotzebue, providing access to all medical records and medical libraries as well as visual and audio teleconferencing capability to consult doctors.

Using a computer telemedicine unit, village clinics can send electronic pictures to the Maniilaq Health Center, where physicians view the images, making long-distance diagnosis easier and more accurate.

Several times a year specialized doctors, dentists, and eye doctors make regularly scheduled visits to the clinics to provide specialized care not usually offered in the area. Additionally, Maniilaq Association contracts with a Licensed Air Carrier to provide reliable, safe and timely medevac services.


Prior to 1976, high school students from Noatak would attend school in Kivalina, and board with local families.


Employment / Economy:

Kivalina’s economy is based primarily on subsistence activities. Seal, walrus, whale, salmon, whitefish, and caribou are harvested each year.

The school district, city, village council, airlines, local stores, and Maniilaq Association provide year-round cash jobs.

The Native craft industry has recently expanded; local carvings and jewelry have become a great boon to the community’s economy.

Public facilities in Kivalina include two churches, a recreation center, post office, community hall, and a village clinic operated by Maniilaq Association.

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