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Anaktuvuk Pass

A sod house in Anaktuvuk Pass in 1957
A sod house in Anaktuvuk Pass in 1957
Location in Alaska
Location in Alaska
Country United States
State Alaska
Borough North Slope
Settled 1949
Incorporated June 1957
 • Total 5.23 sq mi (13.55 km2)
 • Land 5.18 sq mi (13.41 km2)
 • Water 0.05 sq mi (0.14 km2)
2,239 ft (663 m)
 • Total 425
 • Density 82.09/sq mi (31.70/km2)
Time zone UTC−09:00 (Alaskan (AKST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−08:00 (AKDT)
ZIP codes
Area code 907
FIPS code 02-02080
GNIS feature ID 1398235, 2419354

Anaktuvuk Pass (Inupiaq: Anaqtuuvak Anaqtuġvik or Naqsraq) is a city in North Slope Borough, Alaska, United States. The population was 282 at the 2000 census and 324 as of the 2010 census.


Anaktuvuk house 1957
A sod house in Anaktuvuk Pass in 1957, shortly after the village was established.

Anaktuvuk Pass was named after the Anaktuvik River. Anaktuvuk is the English way of spelling annaqtugvik place of caribou droppings in Inupiaq, the language of the Inupiat.

There was a nomadic group of Inupiat called Nunamiut that lived inland in northern Alaska and lived by hunting caribou instead of the marine mammals and fish hunted by the rest of the Inupiat, who live on the coast. The Nunamiut traded with the coastal people for other items they needed. A decline in caribou populations in about 1900 and in the 1920s caused many Nunamiut to move to the coastal villages. In 1938, several families of Nunamiut moved back to the Brooks Range, around Tulugak and the Killik River. In 1949 the Tulugak group moved to Anaktuvuk Pass and later the Killik River group moved there also. Anaktuvuk Pass is the only Nunamiut settlement.

This settlement attracted Nunamiut from many other locations, and villagers today lead a somewhat more sedentary lifestyle than in earlier nomadic times. The City was incorporated in 1959. A Presbyterian Church was constructed in 1966.

Anaktuvuk Pass AK Postmark 1.jpg

A federally-recognized tribe is located in the community – the Village of Anaktuvuk Pass (a.k.a. Naqsragmiut Tribal Council). The population of the community consists of 88.3% Alaska Natives or part Native. Anaktuvuk Pass is a Nunamiut Eskimo community dependent upon subsistence activities. Sale, importation and possession of alcohol are banned in the village.

Anaktuvuk Pass post office was established in May 1951. The first postmaster was Homer Mekiana. As of 2009, its post office was considered to be the most isolated in the United States.


Anaktuvuk Pass is slightly north of the Brooks Range on the divide between the Anaktuvuk River and the John River, located at an elevation of 2,200 feet (670 m). Anaktuvuk Pass is the last remaining settlement of the Nunamiut (People of the Land) Iñupiat Inuit in Alaska.

The community lies at approximately 68.143330° North Latitude and 151.735830° West Longitude. It lies in Section 18, Township 15 South, Range 2 East, Umiat Meridian, and is located within the Barrow Recording District. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.9 square miles (12.7 km2), of which 4.8 square miles (12.4 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km2) (1.63%) is water.


The climate of Anaktuvuk Pass is a tundra climate that shows some characteristics of a subarctic climate; due to its high elevation, summers are cool. The average temperature in January is −14 °F (−26 °C) while temperatures in the summer only reach around 50 °F (10 °C) on average. Extremes recorded in Anaktuvuk Pass are the maximum low being −56 °F (−49 °C) and the maximum high being 91 °F (33 °C). Anaktuvuk Pass receives about 11 inches (280 mm) of rain a year, with snowfall averaging about 63 inches (160 cm) per year. The area is known for its intense winds and 50-below winters and the generic, framed houses built there in the 1970s. The houses are inefficient for such a climate, according to a Fairbanks Daily News Miner story. Anaktuvuk Pass is also the only station in the US to have recorded subzero Fahrenheit temperature in June, with a record low of −1.

Climate data for Anaktuvuk Pass
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) −25.6
Daily mean °C (°F) −30.7
Average low °C (°F) −35.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 13


Historical population
Census Pop.
1950 66
1960 35 −47.0%
1970 99 182.9%
1980 203 105.1%
1990 259 27.6%
2000 282 8.9%
2010 324 14.9%
2020 425 31.2%
U.S. Decennial Census

Anaktuvuk Pass first appeared on the 1950 U.S. Census as an unincorporated village. It formally incorporated (before statehood) in 1957.

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 324 people living in the city. The racial makeup of the city was 81.2% Native American, 7.1% White, 0.3% Black, 0.3% Pacific Islander and 9.0% from two or more races. 2.2% were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

As of the census of 2000, there were 282 people, 84 households, and 57 families living in the city. The population density was 58.2 inhabitants per square mile (22.5/km2). There were 101 housing units at an average density of 20.8 sq mi (54 km2). The racial makeup of the city was 9.57% White, 1.42% Black or African American, 87.59% Native American, 0.71% from other races, and 0.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.71% of the population.

There were 84 households, of which 44.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% were married couples living together, 15.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.1% were non-families. 28.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.6% had someone living alone who was 65 or older. The average household size was 3.36 and the average family size was 4.26.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 38.7% under 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 17.4% from 45 to 64, and 5.0% who were 65 or older. The median age was 26. For every 100 females, there were 107.4 males. For every 100 females over 18, there were 121.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,500, and the median income for a family was $56,250. Males had a median income of $42,500 versus $32,250 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,283. About 3.2% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.8% of those under 18 and none of those 65 or older.

Facilities, utilities, schools, health care and museum

Dumpsters in Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska
Dumpsters in Anaktuvuk Pass, painted with slogans that promote community values.

The North Slope Borough provides all utilities to Anaktuvuk Pass. Two central wells and a treated watering point at Nunamiut School serve the town for water. Most households have water delivered by truck to holding tanks. A few residents haul their own water. Almost 80% of homes have running water in the kitchen. A $17 million project, to provide piped water and sewer and household plumbing, began construction in 1996 which will provide flush toilets and showers for all residences. A new landfill is also near completion. Electricity is provided by North Slope Borough.

There is one school located in the community, the Nunamiut School, attended by 94 students.

The only local health clinic is the Anaktuvuk Pass Health Clinic, which is a primary health care facility. Anaktuvuk Pass is classified as an isolated village, it is found in EMS Region 6A in the North Slope Region. Emergency services have access to the town via river and air. Emergency service is provided by volunteers and a health aide, there are no doctors on site. Auxiliary health care is provided by Anaktuvuk Pass Volunteer Fire Dept.

The Nunamiut's culture is described and preserved through photographs and artifacts at the Simon Paneak Memorial Museum in Anaktuvuk Pass.

Economy and transportation

Economic and employment opportunities are limited in Anaktuvuk Pass, due to its isolation. Hunting and trapping for sale of skins, guiding hunters, or making traditional caribou skin masks or clothing provides income, though some residents have sought seasonal employment outside the town.

Caribou is the primary source of meat, with other subsistence foods including trout, grayling, moose, sheep, brown bear, ptarmigan and water fowl.

Anaktuvuk Pass Airport, a 4,800 feet (1,463 m) gravel airstrip, is owned and operated by the North Slope Borough, and provides Anaktuvuk Pass with year-round access. A $3.4 million airport improvement project was completed by fall 1999, allowing many air companies to provide passenger flight service to Anaktuvuk Pass. There is no road to Anaktuvuk Pass, but Cat-trains transport cargo from the Dalton Highway (which serves as the Trans-Alaska pipeline haul road) during the winter. Snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles are used for local transportation, though some standard vehicles are used.

Notable people

See also

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