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Kivalina, Alaska facts for kids

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Aerial view of Kivalina
Aerial view of Kivalina
Location in Northwest Arctic Borough and the state of Alaska.
Location in Northwest Arctic Borough and the state of Alaska.
Country United States
State Alaska
Borough Northwest Arctic
Incorporated June 23, 1969
 • Total 4.16 sq mi (10.78 km2)
 • Land 1.63 sq mi (4.23 km2)
 • Water 2.53 sq mi (6.55 km2)
13 ft (4 m)
 • Total 444
 • Density 272.23/sq mi (105.08/km2)
Time zone UTC-9 (Alaska (AKST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-8 (AKDT)
ZIP Code
Area code 907
FIPS code 02-39960
GNIS feature ID 1413348, 2419411

Kivalina (kiv-uh-LEE-nuh) (Inupiaq: Kivalliñiq) is a city and village in Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska, United States. The population was 377 at the 2000 census and 374 as of the 2010 census.

The island on which the village lies is threatened by rising sea levels and coastal erosion caused by climate change. As of 2013, it is predicted that the island will be inundated by 2025. In addition to well-publicized impacts of climate change, the Village of Kivalina has been a party in several environmentally related court cases.


Kivalina is an Inupiat community first reported as "Kivualinagmut" in 1847 by Lt. Lavrenty Zagoskin of the Imperial Russian Navy. It has long been a stopping place for travelers between Arctic coastal areas and Kotzebue Sound communities. Three bodies and artifacts were found in 2009 representing the Ipiutak culture, a pre-Thule, non-whaling civilization that disappeared over a millennium ago.

It is the only village in the region where people hunt the bowhead whale. The original village was located at the north end of the Kivalina Lagoon but was relocated.

In about 1900, reindeer were brought to the area and some people were trained as reindeer herders.

An airstrip was built at Kivalina in 1960. Kivalina incorporated as a second-class city in 1969. During the 1970s, a new school and an electric system were constructed in the city.

On December 5, 2014 the only general store in Kivalina burned down. In July 2015, a newer store was opened after months of rebuilding to make the store more convenient and safe.


Kivalina is on the southern tip of a 12 km (7.5 mi) long barrier island located between the Chukchi Sea and a lagoon at the mouth of the Kivalina River. It lies 130 km (81 mi) northwest of Kotzebue.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 3.9 square miles (10 km2), of which, 1.9 square miles (4.9 km2) of it is land and 2.0 square miles (5.2 km2) of it (51.55%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 87
1930 99 13.8%
1940 98 −1.0%
1950 117 19.4%
1960 142 21.4%
1970 188 32.4%
1980 241 28.2%
1990 317 31.5%
2000 377 18.9%
2010 374 −0.8%
2020 444 18.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

Kivalina first appeared on the 1920 U.S. Census as an unincorporated (native) village. It formally incorporated in 1969.

As of the census of 2010, there were 374 people, and 99 households. The population density was 202.1 people per square mile (77.8/km2). There were 80 housing units at an average density of 42.9 per square mile (16.5/km2). The racial makeup of the village was 3.45% White and 96.55% Native American. The Native Village of Kivalina is a federally recognized tribe with an elected tribal council. The City of Kivalina, organized under the Northwest Arctic Borough under the State of Alaska, has an elected mayor and city administrator and a 7-member city council. Per the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, NANA Corporation owns the surface and sub-surface rights to the city site and surrounding area. Manilaaq Association serves the community as an Alaska Native non-profit regional corporation providing social, tribal and health care services.

In 2010, there were 78 households, out of which 61.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.8% were married couples living together, 15.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.9% were non-families. 16.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.83 and the average family size was 5.50. In the village the population was spread out, with 44.0% under the age of 18, 13.3% from 18 to 24, 20.7% from 25 to 44, 15.9% from 45 to 64, and 6.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 21 years. For every 100 females, there were 106.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 113.1 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $30,833, and the median income for a family was $30,179. Males had a median income of $31,875 versus $21,875 for females. The per capita income for the village was $8,360. About 25.4% of families and 26.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.9% of those under age 18 and 30.0% of those age 65 or over.


The McQueen School, operated by the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, serves the community. As of 2017 it had 141 students, with Alaska Natives making up 100% of the student body.

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