Anaktuvuk Pass

The Nunamiut – the inland group of Iñupiat – call Anaktuvuk Pass home. About 250 miles southeast of Utqiaġvik, the village is located along the north-flowing Anaktuvuk River in the central portion of the Brooks Range. These mountains, running east to west, form the southern boundary of the North Slope Borough. The Iñupiat ancestry in this interior, mountainous region goes back at least 4,000 years and the immediate location around Anaktuvuk Pass ("place of caribou droppings") has been occupied for about 500 years. There is an ancient relationship between the caribou, the Nunamiut and the mountain country. The pass itself is a historic caribou migration route. It was a collapse in their population, in the early 1900’s, that led to the near abandonment of this site. Several families returned in the 1940’s and were the latest pioneers in the re establishment of this traditional community. Since the current village is located in the region that has become the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, it has an increasing reputation as a destination for those visitors seeking wilderness back-packing and camping adventures. These visitors find some traces of the old, sod houses and summer tent sites that used to make up the village but the physical appearance of Anaktuvuk Pass today is one of modern public service buildings, schools, homes and public utilities. Residents utilize a fully digital local telephone system,

cellular telephone, Internet, a community teleconference center, cable television, public radio broadcast, an interactive video distance education system, wide area data network, and several two-way radio technologies for their telecommunication needs. Interconnection with the regional and global network is by satellite. There is a year-round museum in Anaktuvuk Pass which focuses on the early natural, geological and cultural history of the area. The locally managed museum also displays Nunamiut clothing, household goods and hunting implements used around the time of first contact with Westerners. In 2020, there were 425 people living in Anaktuvuk Pass, and according to the 2011 state of Alaska employment statistics, 127 residents are employed. Around 83.3 percent of the population is Iñupiat ("Eskimo") and the village economy is largely based on subsistence hunting of caribou – as it has been through the ages. In the "cash economy", the private sector employs about one-quarter of the work force, the North Slope Borough employs over 39 percent, and the NSB School District another 23 percent. Residents produce the popular caribou skin masks and carvings for sale. Transportation to Anaktuvuk Pass is available via scheduled and chartered flights from Fairbanks or Utqiaġvik. Cargo arrives by air transport.

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