LearnBoost welcomes Tikigaq School
The Tikigaq, an Inuit people, live two hundred miles north of the Arctic Circle, 330 miles (531 km) southwest of Barrow, Alaska, in an Inupiaq village of Point Hope, Alaska. The Tikigaq are the oldest continuously settled Native American site on the continent. They are native whale hunters with centuries of experience co-existing with the Chukchi Sea that surrounds their Point Hope Promontory on three sides. "Tikigaq" means "index finger" in the Inupiaq language.
1500 years ago, when Tikigaq first settled the Point Hope area, they did not depend on whale hunting. Instead, early Tikigaq were notable for producing elaborate and beautiful art in an artstyle called Ipiutak, after the place where archaeologists first found the artwork. But the Tikagaq's past is a present-day mystery with no explanation for where the ideas for the art came from, nor how a large population was sustained during their earliest centuries without whale dependence.
The Tikigaq relied on berries and roots for food, local willows for house frames, and moss or grass for lamp wicks and insulation.
While ancillary health care is provided by the local volunteer fire department, the closest physician is in Kotzebue, Alaska, 180 air miles away.
About one of three Tikigaq homes lack running water or sewer connections.
Also known as Tikigaqmuit or Tikigaqmiut, the Tikigaq people live close together for half the year in underground whale-bone igloos that are connected by tunnels. Their connections include the spirits of ancestors, the sun, the moon, and animal worship. Tikigaq sustain myths about their homeland once being a great whale killed by a shaman's harpoon. Their year involves storytelling, rituals, dances, shamanic seances, puppet shows, divinations, spirit guests, encounters with animal souls, and lunar rites, culminating in the spring with the annual whale hunt. 
Tikigaq people have complex kinship and alliance webs.
Tikigaq School, part of the North Slope Borough School District, is the second largest K-12 in Alaska, serving more than 250 children. Notable to the school's curriculum is a three-week whaling class where a small group of students learn specific whaling traditions and skills.