Noatak is located on the west bank of the Noatak River, 55 miles north of Kotzebue and 70 miles north of the Arctic Circle. This is the only settlement on the 396 mile-long Noatak River, just west of the 66-million acre Noatak National Preserve. Noatak is located in the Kotzebue Recording District. Noatak is located in the transitional climate zone. Temperatures average -21 to 15 during winter; 40 to 60 during summer. Temperature extremes have been recorded from -59 to 75. Snowfall averages 48 inches, with 10 to 13 inches of total precipitation per year. The Noatak River is navigable by shallow-draft boats from early June to early October.
It was established as a fishing and hunting camp in the 19th century. The rich resources of this region enabled the camp to develop into a permanent settlement. The 1880 census listed the site as Noatagamut, which means “inland river people.” A post office was established in 1940.
The village is Inupiat Eskimo. Subsistence activities are the central focus of the culture, and families travel to fish camps during the summer. The sale or importation of alcohol is banned in the village.
Noatak’s economy is principally based on subsistence, although the available employment is diverse. The school district, City, Maniilaq and retail stores are the primary employers. Seven residents hold commercial fishing permits. During the summer, many families travel to seasonal fish camps at Sheshalik, and others find seasonal work in Kotzebue or fire-fighting. Chum salmon, whitefish, caribou, moose and waterfowl are harvested.
Borough Assembly Member
Austin Swan, Sr.
P.O. Box 50047 Kivalina, AK 99750