U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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National Wildlife Refuge

The Western Arctic Caribou herd migrate through the refuge twice a year.
160 2nd Ave
P.O. Box 270
Kotzebue, AK   99752
E-mail: selawik@fws.gov
Phone Number: 907-442-3799
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
Caribou crossing the Selawik River
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For thousands of years, the Inupiaq people have made their home within or adjacent to, the Selawik refuge. Historically, these hardy people have hunted, fished and collected plants and berries in order to subsist in this region of the arctic. Today, village residents continue to use the natural resources on the refuge for recreational and subsistence purposes. In the past, the lands that are now part of the refuge were hunting grounds, trade routes, and rich trapping grounds for those determined souls who braved the northern winters. As part of the Bering Land Bridge that once connected eastern Russia with North America, this area was heavily traveled by native peoples, and that tradition continued for many hundreds of years. The Selawik River historically served as a travel and trade route between the coastal Inupiaq people and the interior Athabascan tribes to the southeast.

Change has come slowly to this portion of the arctic. Although snowmachines now share the trails with dog sleds; and airplanes buzz overhead, busily delivering mail, household goods, and supplies; todays village life remains rooted in the past. Extended families still take hunting and fishing trips, and their travel routes and camps bring to mind stories from the past and a close connection to the land. Village residents today enjoy many of the same traditional activities their ancestors did, including caribou and bear hunting, fishing for sheefish and other whitefish, sewing, berry-picking, and many types of arts and crafts.

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