School children and travelers for years have found Utqiaġvik on the map of North America and then chosen it as a destination for pen pal letters or a vacation adventure. It is the town at the top of the world… the northernmost community on the North American continent. Utqiaġvik became the "county seat" of the North Slope Borough when the borough was formed in 1972, shortly after the passage of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. It presently serves as a hub for transportation, regional government administration, communications, economic development and education in the region. However, the current history of Utqiaġvik must be measured against the archeological history. The town contains, among several others, the Birnik site with house mounds and artifacts that date from a period more than 1,200 years ago. The proper and traditional name for this community is Ukpiagvik ("place where snowy owls are hunted") but a British sailing officer named Beechey on a surveying expedition in 1825-26 named the place after Sir John Barrow of the British Admiralty and the name on the subsequently printed maps prevailed until 2016. A few miles to the northeast lies a low peninsula, the geographic Point Barrow, which marks the meeting point of the Chukchi Sea on the west and the Beaufort Sea to the east, both part of the Arctic Ocean. In addition to centuries of the coming and going of the Native hunters and travelers, the point has seen the passage of other explorers, sailing ships of the nineteenth century commercial whalers, traders, solo adventurers, and, more recently, the huge barges transporting equipment modules to the Prudhoe Bay oilfields to the east of Utqiaġvik. The population of Utqiaġvik has increased in recent years with the business and local government activities generated by the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation and the Borough. The largest city in the North Slope Borough, Utqiagvik is home to 4,927 residents (as of 2020), of which 61 percent are Iñupiat (Eskimo) citizens. Despite its remote location, the community has an ethnic mixture of Asian, Pacific Island, Central and South American

and several other national groups. The North Slope Borough employs 46 percent of the approximately 1,935-person workforce, the school district nearly 19 percent and one third of Utqiaġvik’s employed work for private business and industry.

Communications in Utqiaġvik include phone, mail, a public radio station, Internet capa bility and cable TV. The Borough’s community teleconference network operation center is in Utqiaġvik while the North Slope Borough public safety divisions (police, fire, search and rescue) operate an extensive radio-telephone network with links to the other Borough communities. The Borough leases a long-distance network to support distance education and governmental service administration in the villages. Utqiaġvik is served by passenger jet service from Anchorage and Fairbanks. Freight arrives by barge in the summer and air cargo year round.

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