In a remote corner of northwestern Alaska lies Selawik Refuge, a special place of extreme climate, free-flowing rivers, and abundant wildlife. Here where the boreal forest of Interior Alaska meets the arctic tundra, thousands of waterfowl, shorebirds, fish, insects and other creatures rest, breed and feed in the vast wetlands complex that is the heart of the Selawik Refuge. Here also is the homeland of the Iñupiat, where local people hunt, fish and gather as their ancestors have done for thousands of years. Over two million acres of land make up the refuge, which straddles the Arctic Circle and offers adventure and rejuvenation for visitors.
About the NWRS
The National Wildlife Refuge System, within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants.
Learn more about the NWRS
Items of Note
The Western Arctic Caribou Herd is one of the most spectacular resources of the Selawik Refuge. Numbering about 325,000 animals, the herd is the largest in Alaska, roaming an area of 140,000 square miles—the size of Montana—in northwest Alaska. Most of the herd crosses refuge lands during both their northerly spring and southerly fall migrations. Tuttu, as caribou are known in Iñupiaq, have been a vital element of Iñupiaq life for millenia.
Each fall for the past decade, students, elders, teachers, and community members from the Iñupiaq village of Selawik have celebrated their connection to land and culture at a Science-Culture Camp. Every morning for two weeks, rain or shine, participants eagerly climb aboard boats for the 15-minute ride to the camp. Highlights from camp include catching and processing fish for drying into paniqtuq (a local food staple), picking berries, hunting caribou, exploring the area's ecology and learning survival skills.Read more about our educational programs...
"Siilvik" is the Inupiaq name for Selawik, meaning "place of sheefish." One of two sheefish spawning areas in the region is in the upper Selawik River.
Page Photo Credits Running Caribou courtesy Tina Moran, All photos courtesy of USFWS unless otherwise noted.
Last Updated: Jul 17, 2012