The Northwest Arctic Borough covers 38,000 square miles in one of the world’s most beautiful remote areas. Much of the region lies north of the Arctic Circle. The surrounding terrain is Arctic tundra, dotted with hundreds of lakes and rivers. Within the region are several protected land areas including Noatak National Park and Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park, Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, Great Kobuk Sand Dunes,Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Gates of the Arctic National Preserve, Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, and Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Wildlife is abundant, with caribou, moose, bear, salmon and sheefish constituting a significant portion of the local diet.
The area experiences a transitional climate, characterized by long, cold winters and cool summers. Summer temperatures in the region can climb in to the 90's with most days in the 50-60 degree range. Winter temperatures are typically -10 to -20 degrees. However, the mercury occasionally plummets to -65. Snowfall is moderate, 30 to 60 inches per year, but the first snow usually comes in October and stays on the ground until May.
Northwest Arctic Borough School District operates schools in eleven villages for approximately 1,850 students. Schools range in size from Deering with 30 students and 4 teachers to Kotzebue with 664 students and 54 teachers. The overall pupil/teacher ratio for the district is 14 to 1. Ninety percent of the students are Inupiaq Eskimo. An eleven member Regional School Board elected from Kotzebue and the surrounding villages governs NWABSD. In addition, each village has its own Advisory School Council. The district administration is located in Kotzebue. The administrative staff travels frequently to all the sites providing assistance and assessing local programs. The district’s main goals are to prepare students to be contributing members of a rapidly changing society and to preserve the unique heritage and values of the Inupiaq culture. District programs strive to incorporate traditional activities into all phases of the curriculum.