Ipiutak National Historic Landmark

Two walrus skulls on the tundra surrounded by tiny purple wildflowers.
Walrus skulls at Ipiutak National Historic Landmark, Alaska

NPS Photo/R. Hood

Quick Facts
North Slope, Alaska
The Ipiutak Site is the 'type site' for the Ipiutak culture that flourished in northwestern Alaska at the beginning of the common era.
National Historic Landmark, since January 20, 1961

The Ipiutak Site is one of the largest precontact village archeological sites in Arctic Alaska. It’s over 500 ancient house ruins line the beach ridges on the Tikigaq spit, which points west like an extended finger over the Chukchi Sea. The Tikigaq spit is the flank of a giant mythical whale and also represents a raven’s bill or a harpoon point.

Archeologists found that the house ruins were girded by massive whale and walrus bones, many of which remain at the site today. The long and slender jaw bones (mandibles) of whales are still used to demarcate important spaces at the adjacent Village of Point Hope today. The Ipiutak Site preserves the ancient items of daily life used over 1800 years ago. The Ipiutak are well known for elaborate decorative carving in ivory, wood, bone, and stone artifacts.

The Ipiutak archeological culture found here, predates AD 600. The communities of this particular period seemed to flourish and reach a population peak between AD 650 and AD 870, then abated in the following years. However, the Ipiutak Site National Historic Landmark is part of a larger archaeological district that includes the sites (Jabbertown) Qimiarzuk, the Tikigaq historic cemetery, and others on the spit. With Point Hope, these sites convey the long history of the Inupiat and their ancestors in North America.


Additional Information

The Foragers of Point Hope: The Biology and Archaeology of Humans on the Edge of the Alaskan Arctic. Edited by Mark Hilton, Cambridge University Press, 2014

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Last updated: May 11, 2020