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Inupiaq: Nuataaq
Aerial view of a portion of Noatak village
Aerial view of a portion of Noatak village
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
 • Total 16.85 sq mi (43.65 km2)
 • Land 16.03 sq mi (41.52 km2)
 • Water 0.82 sq mi (2.13 km2)
 • Total 570
 • Density 35.55/sq mi (13.73/km2)
Time zone UTC-9 (Alaska (AKST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-8 (AKDT)
ZIP code
Area code(s) 907
FIPS code 02-54700

Noatak (Inupiaq: Nuataaq) is a census-designated place (CDP) in the Northwest Arctic Borough in the U.S. state of Alaska. The population was 514 at the 2010 census, up from 428 in 2000. It is served by Noatak Airport.


Inuit in kayaks, Noatak

Noatak was established as a fishing and hunting camp in the 1800s. Two identifiable groups of Inupiat resided on the Noatak River. The Nautaagmiut (called "Noatagamut" in the 1880 census), Inupiaq for "inland river people", lived upriver, and the Napaaqtugmiut, meaning "people of the trees", lived downriver. By the early 20th century, the missionaries Robert and Carrie Samms settled in what they called "Noatak". A United States post office was established in 1940.


Noatak is located at 67°34′19″N 162°58′30″W / 67.57194°N 162.97500°W / 67.57194; -162.97500 (67.572031, -162.975085).

Noatak is located on the west bank of the Noatak River, 81 km (50 mi) north of Kotzebue. It is 102 km (63 mi) north of the Arctic Circle. Noatak village lies near the western boundary of the 6.6-million acre (270,000 km2) Noatak National Preserve and is the only settlement on the over-400-mile (640 km) long Noatak River.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 12.2 square miles (32 km2), of which, 11.6 square miles (30 km2) of it is land and 0.7 square miles (1.8 km2) of it (5.40%) is water.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 400
1910 121
1920 164 35.5%
1930 212 29.3%
1940 336 58.5%
1950 326 −3.0%
1960 275 −15.6%
1970 293 6.5%
1980 273 −6.8%
1990 333 22.0%
2000 428 28.5%
2010 514 20.1%
2020 570 10.9%
U.S. Decennial Census

Noatak first appeared on the 1880 U.S. Census as an unincorporated Inuit village of "Noatagamute." All 400 of its residents were Inuit. It did not return again until 1910, this time as Noatak. It has returned on every successive census to date. It was made a census-designated place (CDP) in 1980.

As of the census of 2000, there were 428 people, 100 households, and 90 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 37.0 people per square mile (14.3/km2). There were 106 housing units at an average density of 9.2/sq mi (3.5/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 3.74% White, 0.23% Black or African American, 93.69% Native American, and 2.34% from two or more races. 0.23% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Inuit man by Curtis - Noatak AK
Inuit man, Noatak

There were 100 households, out of which 69.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.0% were married couples living together, 22.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 10.0% were non-families. 9.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and none had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 4.28 and the average family size was 4.51.

In the CDP, the population was spread out, with 42.5% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 12.9% from 45 to 64, and 5.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 23 years. For every 100 females, there were 104.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 108.5 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $30,833, and the median income for a family was $31,667. Males had a median income of $25,833 versus $21,250 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $9,659. About 25.0% of families and 22.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.9% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.


Noatak has a 4,000-foot (1,200 m) gravel public airstrip and is primarily reached by air. No road goes to Noatak. Snowmobiles, ATV's, and small boats are important means of inter-village travel and for local subsistence activities.


The Napaaqtugmiut School, operated by the Northwest Arctic Borough School District, serves the community. Its current building opened in 2008. As of 2017 it had 177 students, with Alaska Natives making up 95% of the student body.

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