History & Culture
Come time travel with Noatak National Preserve as we explore a powerful river cutting through a vast wilderness, portions of which were unglaciated at times when migrations of people, plants, and animals crossed from eastern Asia into the New World via the Bering Land Bridge.
Noatak National Preserve was set aside by congress to protect the nation’s largest unaltered river basin and watershed, provide habitat for many species of flora and fauna, preserve the archeological sites within its boundaries, and provide opportunities for subsistence and scientific study. Most of what we know about the Preserve comes from the oral history of the Inupiat people and the work of scientists such as archeologists, geologists, and biologists. These diverse groups of people all care deeply for this special place.
Despite its wilderness status, Noatak National Preserve has been home to people for well over 11,000 years. These dramatic findings are the result of a recent five year investigation undertaken by National Park Service archeologists surveying the major tributaries of the Noatak River. Inupiaq Eskimo call this are area home. The Inupiaq peoples of the upper Noatak region were traditionally known as Nuataaqmiut.
Noatak National Preserve is more than just a river in the wilderness. Be transported as you explore some of our fascinating people, stories, and places in the following pages.
The Cultural Resource program at Noatak National Preserve documents people in the parks, past and present, and strives to preserve places with unique history. To learn more about cultural resources, visit our program page.
Did You Know?
The Western Arctic caribou herd is comprised of about 370,000 caribou, making it North America’s largest. These “nomads of the north” travel through Noatak National Preserve twice a year during their long trek between southern wintering areas and northern calving grounds.