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Kaktovik (also known as Barter Island) is a city of just under three hundred people on the Beaufort Sea in Arctic Alaska's North Slope Borough.


Barter island village

Kaktovik (the name means "Seining Place") is an isolated Inupiat Eskimo settlement whose subsistence depends upon traditional caribou and whale hunting. This tiny city is on an island in the Beaufort Sea, facing onto the Arctic Ocean; traditionally, Barter Island was a native trading place.

Directly to the south is the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a large expanse of federal parkland. An airport was established as part of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line effort of the Cold War 1950s; in the modern era, more than two thousand people arrive annually (usually in the fall) to see polar bears in the wild. The local road network in the city does not extend beyond the airfield so a visit to this remote location usually entails flying in by bush plane, being transported into town in a van operated by the local hotel, then going back out into the wilds of Alaska with an outfitter.

Get in[edit]

  • 1 [dead link] Ravn Alaska (BTI  IATA), +1 907 266-8394, fax: +1 907 266-8391. Ravn Alaska, the only airline serving Kaktovik, ceased operations in April 2020 due to the coronavirus, you should contact your travel agency or airline. Barter Island LRRS Airport (Q2789750) on Wikidata Barter Island LRRS Airport on Wikipedia

Get around[edit]





Katkovik is one of the few places in the Western world where the consumption of whale meat is legal and normal. In a delicate balance between conservation concerns and the Inupiats' right to practise their traditional lifestyle, the villagers are allowed to hunt up to three whales per year; this provides enough meat for the community for a whole year.


Not booze. Katkovik is a dry community, by choice of the local Inupiat people. The borough police have been known to search the luggage of people flying to town, and the penalty for smuggling alcohol can be a jail sentence and a fine of up to $10,000.



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