Kivalina, Alaska

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



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. Three bodies and artifacts were found in 2009 representing the Ipiutak culture, a pre-Thule, non-whaling civilization that disappeared over a millennium ago.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4] The lawsuit estimates the cost of relocation at $400 million.[5]

Kivalina has also sued Canadian mining company Teck Cominco for polluting its water source.[6]


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.[7] It lies 130 km (80 miles) northwest of Kotzebue.

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