Kotzebue, on Kotzebue Sound of the Chukchi Sea, was a natural meeting place for Eskimo traders, and a village grew up here in the nineteenth century. In 1897 the Friends established a mission here, dominating the educational and cultural scenes for several decades. A minor gold rush to the Kobuk River area in 1898 and an influx of traders added to the white influences on the town. The older part of town, near Second Avenue and Mission Street, has a variety of one-story, wood-framed buildings with a handful of log structures.
In 1951, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management auctioned the publicly held land, which was most of downtown Kotzebue, to private owners, and the population doubled in that decade. Rapid growth continues and is reflected in the number of prefabricated, modular homes. Today, Kotzebue serves as a regional center and as headquarters of the NANA (the Northwest Alaska Native Association) Regional Corporation.
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