Noorvik is located on the right bank of the Nazuruk Channel of the Kobuk River, 33 miles northwest of Selawik, and 47 miles east of Kotzebue. The village is downriver from the 1.7-million acre Kobuk Valley National Park.
Noorvik, or Nuurvik in Inupiaq, is mainly an Iñupiat Eskimo community that participates in a subsistence lifestyle, depending on caribou, fish, moose, waterfowl, and berries for survival. The population of Noorvik is currently 636.
Noorvik means “a place that is moved to.” Kowagmuit Iñupiat Eskimo fishermen and hunters from Deering established the village in the early 1900s. Iñupiat from Oksik, a few miles upriver, also settled the village. Noorvik is one of the largest communities in the Northwest Arctic Borough.
Subsistence is an important part of Noorvik’s economy. The main local employers are the school district, the city, Maniilaq Association, and two stores. Seasonal employment at the Red Dog Mine, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) fire fighting, or work in Kotzebue also supply income. Several residents commercially fish in the Kotzebue Sound and Kobuk River.
Noorvik is accessible by plane, small boats and barges. There are no roads linking the village to other areas of the state. Noorvik’s airport, the second largest in the borough, has a main gravel runway and a gravel crosswind runway. A new runway, access road, and other major improvements are under construction. Several regional air taxis provide service to Kotzebue and surrounding settlements. Crowley Marine Services barges fuel and supplies during the summer. Boats, ATVs and snow machines are common means of transportation around the village. In the winter a road is usually plowed over the frozen Kobuk River from Kotzebue to Noorvik, then on to neighboring Kiana.
Noorvik has a mayor/council form of government, with a police officer and a volunteer fire/search and rescue department. The city has a post office, community hall, K-12 school, airport, several stores and churches, a Lions Club, armory, and a Maniilaq village clinic. Water is pumped from the Kobuk River to the water treatment/utility building. From there, a pressurized circulating system distributes water to homes and buildings. Noorvik has a vacuum sewer system in which waste is carried by air instead of water. Vacuum pressure pumps the sewage to the collection and treatment plant. Approximately two-third of all households have plumbing, and the remaining homes are in the process of being connected. A new landfill has recently been opened, and funds have been requested to construct a several new facilities, including a new washeteria, recreation center, Head Start school, day care center, restaurant, native crafts production facility, and a food processing plant.