Kivalina, Alaska

Kivalina is a city in Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 377.


Kivalina is on the tip of an 12 km (8 mile) long barrier island located between the Chukchi Sea and a lagoon at the mouth of the Kivalina River. It lies 130 km (80 miles) northwest of Kotzebue.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.9 square miles (10.0 km²), of which, 1.9 square miles (4.8 km²) of it is land and 2.0 square miles (5.2 km²) of it (51.55%) is water.


As of the census of 2000, there were 377 people, 78 households, and 64 families residing in the city. 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/sq mi (16.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 3.45% White and 96.55% Native American.

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 city 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 city 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 city 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.


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. 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 village.

Due to severe sea wave erosion during storms, the City hopes to relocate again to a new site 12 km (7.5 miles) from the present site. Studies of alternate sites are ongoing. Financing for the move, estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, is problematic.

Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp., Et al.

The city of Kivalina and a federally recognized tribe, the Alaska Native village of Kivalina, sued Exxon Mobil Corporation, eight other oil companies, 14 power companies and one coal company in a lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco February 26 2008, claiming that the large amounts of greenhouse gases they emit contribute to global warming that threatens the community's existence. The lawsuit estimates the cost of relocation at $400 million.

Kivalina has also sued Canadian mining company Teck Cominco for polluting its water source.


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