Kotzebue lies on a sandy stretch of coastline 33 miles north of the Arctic Circle, far in the northern wilderness of Alaska. The Kotzebue Sound stretches to the north and west of the town, and on the other side, the land surrounding it is marshy and dotted with large and small lakes. In the summer a carpet of green plants grow around and in the town including cottongrass, moss and blueberries. In the fall the cottony fibers blow all around from the cottongrass, and berries are harvested by the thousands for local consumption. The sun keeps close to the horizon all day, touching it to the north at midnight, and reaching as high as halfway up at noon in midsummer.
In the winter, the sun stays below the horizon most of the time. On the shortest day of the year, the sun comes up to the horizon just at noon and then sets. Wintertime temperatures can typically be 30 degrees below zero, fahrenheit. Heavy snow falls, and the wind blows hard.
Kotzebue is laid out on several criss-crossing streets aligned roughly with the coastline. Most roads are dirt. The buildings are simple and weather-streaked. A few roads extend a small distance out of town. In the winter the roads covered in snow, and snowmobiles are the main means of transportation.
Archeological evidence of habitation at Kotzebue extends back to the fifteenth century. Three rivers, the Noatak, Selawik and Kobuk, empty into the sound nearby, forming a natural transportation center. The Inupiat people are the native inhabitants, whose name for the town was Qikiqtagruk, which means "a place that is shaped like a long island", referring to its location on what we call a spit.
3,082 people live in Kotzebue, as of the year 2000. It is accessible only by boat or airplane. Its people feel a close connection to each other, and a few neighboring native villages, while the world outside is very remote.
For More Information:
See Wikipedia's Kotzebue article.
Ted Stevens Way