Been Traveling – Point Hope

I’ve been busy traveling the last couple months, so haven’t been posting… will try to rectify that situation with some notes of my travels.  We’ll start with Point Hope, Alaska.  Point Hope sits on the end of a 15 mile-long gravel spit that sits on the end of a point of land (Lisburne Peninsula)) that sticks out into the Chukchi Sea.  It’s one of those edge-of-the world places.  There’s about 700 folks living there, mostly Inupiat natives, and the economy is mostly subsistence (whaling).

Various Inupiat peoples have continually inhabited the Point Hope peninsula perhaps longer than any other location in Alaska.  These settlements included Old and New Tigara, Ipiutak, Jabbertown, and the present-day community of Point Hope.  Sod house remains, house pits, and other signs of thousands of years of occupancy have been found near the current city location.

The history of Point Hope was strongly influenced by whaling, trading, introduction of alcohol and diseases, reindeer herding, missionaries, and federal agencies.  Point Hope was incorporated in 1966 as a fourth-class city and achieved status as a second-class city in 1972.  The community moved to its present-day location in 1978 and 1979, due to storm surge and erosion of the prior site on the north side of the spit.  Tikigaq Corporation is the local village corporation.  The Native Village of Point Hope is a federally recognized tribe.

Point Hope water tanksI was there in April looking at their water supply.  Since the area is all permafrost and the city is only a little above sea level, they need large water tanks to hold their drinking water.

They can only collect fresh water for a couple months in the summer (when the weather is above freezing) from a shallow pit to the east of the city.  Then the water is treated and kept in heated tanks.  Frozen water doesn’t flow well.

As you can see from the photo, even in late April it was fairly cold.

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